It was another summer visit to the Cape house that my niece assured me was mine to enjoy last week.
Paris this past March, New York two weekends back, and now the Cape – each time I have walked into familiar settings for the first time since being no longer part of a couple. Each of these three times I have been wary of the emotional toll the venture might exact.
A new John has been emerging, and the birth pangs are painful at times, energizing but scary. Could I really have expected otherwise?
What does keep happening, though, is a sense of making it through, of facing the fear, shedding the tears and talking to the person who is in the process of living with himself in these new circumstances.
Hard work. The outcome unclear. The surprises ready at different points. Like one afternoon of sudden ease this past week – the winds calmed and just a day lying before me.
There were moments at the start of my stay on the Cape, I admit, that I wanted these vacation days over. I wanted to run. I wanted not to have to be alone this way and in circumstances as ambiguous as these. What my therapist had just recently explained as two signs of growth in mental health, being willing to be alone and being ready to accept ambiguity, were goals, it seemed, not yet perfectly realized.
And then “Two Warm Trees.”
Walking into a particular gallery that memories had made difficult to imagine revisiting, I moved unexpectedly into the presence of the painting by Willoughby Elliott that had hovered over my last year, even appearing in postings on this blog not once but twice. The painting whose digital image I had used to represent the year 2008 in my Christmas card – the painting that had earlier hung in a gallery across the state in Williamstown – there it was in a gallery on the Cape.
It was a bit like my life hanging there and waiting for me to claim it. It was being offered, and it was only right that I make it mine. Stunned, startled, I did what I needed to do to walk out of a tricky setting more fully in possession of what I had determined I wanted my life to be like.
Something is now on the walls of my home that was always destined to be there.