Last fall, I had dinner with a group of writers. I mentioned that Bill and I were planning to move to the Seattle area later this year. Since we live in Woodstock, New York, that’s a long way away and people always want to know why. So I explained how I’ve always been happy in the Hudson Valley and he hasn’t, necessarily. As a writer, I’m lucky enough to be able to work almost anywhere. He’s a musician, or he was for many years before he got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and couldn’t keep up with the physical rigors of setting up and performing. He’s gotten better, though it’s a slow process that took decades. A few years ago, he realized he was well enough to perform again.
Meantime, there’s his best friend Drew, who moved to the Seattle suburbs a few years ago after he reconnected with an old flame there. Almost from the beginning, he was reporting back to Bill: It’s really nice here. People are polite. They’re supportive to musicians. There are more places to play. It really doesn’t rain as much as everyone says…
Right away, sight unseen, Bill was just about ready to pull up stakes and go. I’m the cautious one. “OK,” I said. “Let’s spend some time there and check it out.” And so we have, for the past year and a half, several weeks at a time. We’ve explored small towns and different sections of the big city. We’ve made sure to experience the rainy season, not once but twice. Admittedly, it has its dreary side. But I’ve always been intrigued by the damp majesty of the Pacific Northwest. And the literary community there is so impressive it’s almost intimidating. I love my writer friends in the HudsonValley but it will be fun to get to know this whole new writer community.
Mainly, our friend is right. When he’s there, Bill has someplace to play out nearly every night. This is something he needs and loves to do, and something he’s incredibly good at. He’s going to be 62 in a couple of weeks. He’s a pretty young 62, but still. If he’s to be a performer, now’s the time.
It was around this point in my story that I noticed one of the writers at the table looking at me with one of the saddest expressions I’ve ever seen. He had lost his wife of many years, another writer, very recently. “Maybe they had unfulfilled dreams,” Bill guessed, when I told him this later. But I think it was something else, the unspoken comment I seem to get from so many people when I tell them about this move. You must really love him a lot to be willing to change your whole life.
Fifteen years ago, we did something similar. Bill (who’s a geek as well as a guitarist) got a job at a dotcom in Williamstown, Massachusetts. I wasn’t wild about Williamstown, but after an annoying commuter-relationship period just to make sure the job would last, we packed up our cats and our many computers and books, and made the move. A year later, the company had been acquired and Bill had moved to a telecommuting job based on the West Coast. We could live wherever we wanted. We might have gone off in any number of directions. But knowing how attached I was to Woodstock, Bill insisted on moving back here, returning to a life that wasn’t his first choice.
We’ve been here ever since, and it’s been good to us in many ways. I doubt I’ll ever love a house as much as I love this one. Everything here is familiar. Our family is almost all nearby. We have deep roots of the sort that make me see why people our age don’t usually pick up and move across the country.
But we’re not usual. It’s Bill’s turn now to love where we live, and mine to have a spouse who’s as happy with his career as he is with his marriage. And both of us are ready for a new adventure.
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Photo credit: Tavis Jacobs