Every once in a while I visit An Apple a Day, the blog of Amy Merrick. Much of the time her posts are about her incredible flower arrangements, but initially I was drawn to her because of her relationship to her family’s summer home, “Elmwood”. The love she expresses for this place is in the same in tone and key as what I have written here about Maine. And her dismay and ambivalence at having to leave each summer, to return to New York City, is also achingly familiar.
In a recent post, she writes:
Last summer I naively questioned if I was a country girl or a city girl. This summer, the answer came to me loud and clear as I collapsed into tears on the front lawn of Elmwood when it was time to drive home. If kicking and screaming were permissible grownup expressions of emotion, I would have gone that route. Sometimes it feels like New York is only good for 3 things- making money, spending money and eating Thai food in bed at 2am. After 10 years, it wears thin.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that I’ve been in the midst of a major bum-out since coming “home” from the East Coast. I thought it would probably just pass as we transitioned back into our regularly scheduled programming. Instead, my authentic self is following me around, questioning me desperately, “When are we going to leave? Are we ever going to leave? San Francisco is toxic for you…you don’t have an anxiety problem…you have a city problem. When are we leaving?”
And the answer is still dependent on things outside of my control. So I’m doing what I always do, which is focusing on the present, on my daughter, on being grateful for what I can still manage to appreciate about living here, (mostly that I have consumer goods within a 10 minute walking radius, as well as access to activities for Fern…that is, if I can afford them…). I am aware that while forcing my gratitude can give me enough uplift to make it a good day, it also feels like a trick I’ve gotten wise to.
I medicate by skipping town whenever possible, so we went to Shasta County this past weekend. Which may have just exacerbated the issue, since my thin layer of adjustment peeled off like a fresh scab. When it was time to leave, I found myself with my head on my favorite oak tree, doing my own version of Merrick’s kicking and screaming.
I am grateful through clenched teeth and I’m heartbroken and I use these photos and this blog as a way of re-membering, before heading out into the concrete and fog each day.
We spent a long morning at Whiskeytown Lake, where we made a friend.
I have often wondered if Fern feel’s the difference, between our city lives and our excursions to rural areas. There’s an obvious shift to her rhythm when we are somewhere with an open door policy, a door that opens to a large yard and unfettered exploration. Which is one of the major reasons I want us to move. This time, when it was time to leave, she cried heavily, weeping, “I don’t want to go back to San Sansisco. I want to stay in this place”.
I buried my mouth and nose in her hair, whispering into her ear, “I don’t want to leave either honey. But do you know what makes it almost ok?”
The crying stops, she looks up at me, hanging onto my words like the illicit chocolate she steals out of my purse.
I offer her these cheesy-ass sentiments, which also happen to be true, “That we may have to leave, but I’m leaving with you. We’re together, and you are everywhere I want to be.”
She wipes her snot on my shoulder and says, “Yes, that’s right. You’re my mommy. And I’m your Sern.”
We also got squirrely on this trip, and drove home with lots of foraged goodies. Stay tuned for that on Friday.
P.S. I’m still wondering about the answer to these questions. I’m sure one of you can tell me…?