Follow your…head? heart?

Time. It’s passed just as my mother said it would, as her mother and grandmother told her it would. Faster and faster, until finding those lost years is like trying to identify a hummingbird from a speeding car. First you’re twenty, ten years later you’re thirty, forty rushes to meet you in less than a decade, fifty pounces on you unawares, and when you wake up the next morning you’re sixty; by lunchtime, you’re sixty-five. Seventy will be here before I figure out what my next sentence should say. No one knows how this happens, but it happens to everybody. It’s one of life’s great mysteries, like why I hate cilantro or how the crumbs get into the silverware drawer.

One afternoon a couple of weeks ago, a man with a briefcase and a tape measure came here to tell us what our home is worth. He checked out the water pipes and the heating system, looked for moulds and other signs of neglect, measured every room and took photos with his iPhone. He didn’t check the silverware drawer. It took him all of twenty minutes. That’s 30 seconds for every year we’ve lived here. He went away, studied his findings, checked on what other people’s homes sold for, and came up with a number. It’s a number that will have a lot to do with what I will see from my study window in a few years time (say, five minutes from now).

Every day, when I look up from my deskIMG_3274 at the fields and the river, I wonder what it will be like to look out a different window. Later, sitting on the deck with my evening glass of wine, I wonder how much I would miss the hill. Sipping my morning coffee, I can’t even think about it.

IMG_3264

“You’ll know when it’s time,” said a friend a few years ago when I asked her how she could bear to leave her country home of many years and move to a condo in town. Does that mean if there’s any doubt, it’s not time? Are there people out there who make such decisions without any doubt?

“And you’ll be glad when you do,” she went on to say. I do believe that. Nothing could be less comfortable than this limbo.

A condo is not on the list. But we’ve begun to check real estate listings in town. It makes sense to move to town. Really. But is that what we want to do? It’s hard to think so on a day like today—sunny, lovely breeze, birds chirping all day. We’ve also been poring over books of house plans. We could build right here, on our own land. There’s a lovely spot down the road.  But how stupid would it be to build in the country? (Read “at our age” into that last question.) We will be getting old—or at least that’s the plan. Our heads say go to town, but our hearts aren’t at all sure. And I’m trying to think of a time I’ve been sorry to follow my heart. It may come to me.

So, to follow our heads or our hearts? Is it better to forge ahead as if you really are only as old as you feel? Or is it foolhardy to imagine that tomorrow will be just like today? And if you ignore your heart, do you hasten your ultimate demise? We hold out some hope that we’ll fall in love with something sensible so our various body parts come into sync.

An aside: I hear there are no blackflies in town.

 

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7 Responses to Follow your…head? heart?

  1. My mother never explained to me how time passes. But sometime in my early sixties I found myself explaining to a colleague who was complaining about just having turned 36 how it will go. Today you’re 36. You go to bed at night and you wake up in the morning and you’re still 36. And you go to bed the next night and your wake up and you’re 36. And so it will go, on and on, and one day you’ll wake up and you’re 37. And so on and so on, and you get to be maybe 39. And you go to bed and you wake up in the morning and you’re 63.

    My partial explanation for this is that the older you get the smaller a percentage of your life a year represents. When you’re 5, a year is 20% of your life. When you’re 50, a year is 2%.

  2. carolynrmiller says:

    My mother never explained to me how time passes. But sometime in my early sixties I found myself explaining to a colleague who was complaining about just having turned 36 how it will go. Today you’re 36. You go to bed at night and you wake up in the morning and you’re still 36. And you go to bed the next night and your wake up and you’re 36. And so it will go, on and on, and one day you’ll wake up and you’re 37. And so on and so on, and you get to be maybe 39. And you go to bed and you wake up in the morning and you’re 63.

    My partial explanation for this is that the older you get the smaller a percentage of your life a year represents. When you’re 5, a year is 20% of your life. When you’re 50, a year is 2%.

    • pdunning says:

      Glad you didn’t notice that I’d sort of lifted those images from your story–which you shared with me some time ago. (5 minutes?)
      It’s your house we’re looking for. After our March visit, we decided if we could find something in town on a ravine, we’d be pretty happy. There are ravines…no houses at this point!

      • carolynrmiller says:

        No I didn’t recognize this. I thought you had a completely different image at work. Incidentally, I’m at a conference in Banff right now about biography and autobiography (about which I really know very little) but people are talking about memoirs and Canadian literature and women writers (not to mention social justice and trauma, but never mind that). I tried to describe your memoir project to someone and she suggested that you might try thinking of it as a latter-day version of Roughing It in the Bush, by Susanna Moodle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roughing_it_in_the_Bush. The analogy doesn’t sound very close to me, but I thought I’d pass it along.

    • Sorry, not sure why this got in there twice. I tried to post it and it seemed to have disappeared, so I did it again. Mistake.

  3. suzycue44 says:

    By town I assume you mean ‘the city’. When we met ten years ago, and decided to mould ourselves into an item, my hubby did not want to live in ‘the city’. I did not want to live isolated (my conception) in the ‘back of beyond’. Our compromise was…and is…the Island. Best of both worlds. He feels quite rural (if not quite farmer-like) here on St. Joe’s. I, on the other hand, can walk to the library, the grocery store, the medical places, and – the L.C.B.O. I can also sit on my back patio, listening to the birds, looking out at the beach area, listening to the summer sounds of pickle-ball games, lawnmowers, and the laughter of children. No swatting of black-flies required either. We are able to escape the winter still and head south…but that will end at some point. We know, when that time comes, that we are a short hop, skip and lurch to visit friends, attend musical interludes, join book clubs, bridge groups, and participate in all manner of get-togethers provided by our township for we ‘seniors’. So far, we are winning, we think! Perhaps, look eastwards instead of westwards for your potential move…..

  4. pdunning says:

    Thanks for that idea…one we’ve discussed. But who are you suziecue? Not in my address book!

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