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 desk 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.
“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.