Not so long ago, leaving my beautiful vintage apartment in the most interesting part of downtown NW Portland would have triggered a huge outpouring of energy in the form of grief and loss: “This may be the last time I’ll see, eat, do, experience such and such. I’m going to miss this so badly,” and I would have allowed intense sadness to wash over me with each of these thoughts. But I’m 55 and suddenly find I don’t have the energy for such carry on. It’s not that I didn’t acknowledge the sadness of leaving but, in moving in with my mother and her dog, Dexter, in Lynden, Washington, it felt better to focus on all I’m gaining in my new life instead of what I’m losing. It may be the first time in my life when I left something I loved passionately in such an emotionally efficient way.
I believe that what is happening in our country and in the world may be partly responsible for this change. It takes energy to absorb, process and come to terms with all the ways that things seem to be spinning wildly out of control and the implications of that. Living in the now instead of “sorrowing” about the past is an energy saver that almost feels like a necessity these days.
I’m lucky. My mother and I get along very well. We have fun doing things together. My rooms in her house, now that I’ve finally finished unpacking, are beautiful. Lynden is a charming town and so is nearby Bellingham. In my old apartment, I loved the view from the desk where I wrote. My view here from my home office is quite different but gorgeous. The sunsets — a unique configuration every evening, of course — are breathtaking. This is the first morning in three months, now that The Move is over, when I’ve been able to sit down for a day of writing and I’m deeply grateful for all this.
The one fly in the ointment is that my mother and I would love to be able to relax together in the living room with Trudy, my cat, and her dog, Dexter, and I don’t know, given the personalities involved, if that will ever happen. Maybe it’s just as well. Right now, though she’s free to come downstairs, Trudy stays up in our rooms. If she came downstairs, she might see me giving Dexter love and attention, as he’s used to receiving from me, and it might break her heart. It might be different if I could give her the world (in cat terms) as I’d like to do. Such as: a large garden with high stone walls, big shady trees, a trickling stream, many plants giving off fascinating odors and attracting bumble bees and butterflies for her to watch, and bushes for her to hide under if she’s so inclined, and when she wants a cool place on a hot day. But back to reality. I think the thing that’s using up my energy is my guilt about putting Trudy in a home with a dog whose barking frightens her so much — even when he’s not barking at her. The other evening we were on my bed. She was relaxed and snoozing on top of me, purring and content. Out of the blue, we hear Dexter’s ferocious barking downstairs, either in response to someone he heard or saw outside. Trudy sits bolt upright while I try to soothe and reassure her with my voice. To no avail. She flees and hides under the bed for the next forty-five minutes. Sigh. Author and animal behavior expert, Amy Shojai, and several friends keep reinforcing the need for patience as we work through this transition. I’ve appreciated their support so much. Amy has been very helpful about all aspects of the situation and just gave me valuable info about leash training Trudy because I’d so love to take her outside. So far, despite using the leash as a toy and stroking her with it so it takes on her scent, she has made it crystal clear that I’m not putting that thing on her. I’m going to try a vest-style harness and see where that gets me. But with all this, the challenge is the same: ditch the guilt, and envision the best outcome instead of fearing and worrying about the worst. I just can’t waste energy on the old ways of thinking anymore. And this shift feels SO good.