Tag Archives: New England

Greetings from Ashland

Wind chime close-up

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Well, it has been a while since I have had the physical or mental space to be able to write anything other than (yet another) to-do list, but today, my new office in Ashland is officially open for business.

My computer equipment and desk are the same, but the locale is different enough that my head is still spinning from the change. Instead of a four lane highway populated by trucks heading to the depot and students queuing up at the front entrance to the community college across the street, the view out my window now consists of a placid stretch of road only populated by leaves skittering in the New England wind and the occasional squirrel. The windchimes that Matt and I have spent our lives together slowly collecting are hung around the outside of the house, much as they have been in every home we have shared, but now, as never before, their songs are clearly audible no matter where you stand in the house, or how tentative the touch of the wind. It is almost as if we had been collecting them just to hang here.

Our return to what passes for normality in the Sheehy house occurred in a staggered fashion. Ana was very anxious to get back to her academics, and so I ran up to her school and got her enrolled and ready to go two days after we first walked in to our new house in Ashland. Frances was a bit more relaxed about it, and wanted to start the next day. Owen, predictably, wanted NOTHING to do with school, much preferring to stay home with me and fill my ears with his stream of consciousness chatter. This worked well for him given the fact that as a child who requires special education services he was a little more complicated to get enrolled in school.

When I finally got Owen started at school on Monday morning, one week after our Ashland landing, and after about two and a half weeks of no school, I walked back into our big house, filled only with boxes and cats, and felt the silence begin to close in like a woolen blanket until I was literally paralyzed by the stillness. It is kind of ironic that the quiet that I have craved as an ideal for all these years would be so unsettling when it becomes the reality of my life instead of an abstract goal to work towards. I drowned out the silence by finding my local NPR station and using it to fill the empty audio spaces with familiar voices and shows, although periodically I would so a cognitive double take when I realized that the weather report being announced was for Boston rather than New York Metro or that the announcer was drawling the “r” sound as only a New Englander can. Other than that, the sounds of Public Radio soothed me like an old blanket and made me feel more like I was at home rather than visiting some far away land and I began to dig through boxes, feeling like I was opening presents, even though it was just my same old stuff that was contained inside each box.

Later, as I prepared to retrieve the kids from their various schools, I realized that it was not so much the quiet that unsettled me as the sense that I was really alone here in this place. My life has always been somewhat solitary, and it usually suits me quite well to have several hours in which I need not speak to anyone but  my cats and I can explore ideas and be able to examine, and express my thoughts without interruption and without the need to attend to the needs of others. Always before, however, once I left my house there was a world outside that contained friends and familiar faces that I might encounter. Here, the world outside is undiscovered, and that reminds me of my solitude. I guess I am lonely…but I am not unhappy.

Life is good, and I am thankful for mine, in every respect.

Changes are afoot

Traffic lights can have several additional lig...

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Life in the NJ town we have called home for the last 7 years is pretty good.  We have great schools, nice neighbors and have met many people that I am proud to call true friends.

Our house, for which we overpaid, is a solidly built cape cod, built in the 50’s when particle board was unheard of. We have done a lot of work to it, bestowing upon it new siding, windows and roof. Unbeknownst to us when we purchased the home, there is a trucking depot so the view out our front window is often interrupted by trucks alternately roaring by or shrieking to a stop at the traffic light outside our door. The new windows we invested in mute the sounds from inside the house, but the front yard is only quiet enough to relax in on weekends.

Despite the noise, Matt has invested time and energy in learning about gardening on the fly, and has produced a lovely yard full of lush, neatly trimmed hedges, flowering bushes and green lawn that he lovingly mows in different directions each time.

We have painted the walls in colors that please us, ranging from bright primary colors in the kitchen to a deep eggplant on the walls of our bedroom. The color of the walls hardly matters, however, since the majority of the space is covered with our eclectic collection of paintings, photographs and objects d’art that we have collected over the years.

In short, we have made ourselves at home.

We have had wonderful times with wonderful people and life here is good.

This is not to say that life is perfect. We have had our hard times under this roof.  Matt and I have spent many evenings sitting in our living room or laying together in our bed puzzling over the traumas and agonies that come with lives not led in isolation from the world, or your parents.

It was within these walls that I retreated in terror when I found out I had cancer, and here where I lay in the shelter of Matt’s arms and cried for the fear I would not see my children grow. This house sheltered me as I endured the poisoning that they call cancer treatment, and it was also here that I again embraced hope and celebrated the life that I now knew I would live to see.

Several months ago, Matt went to Cambridge to interview for a job at Harvard. He has a job that he likes, so he went into the interview with no expectations and a minimum of anxiety. He unleashed his inner librarian during the interview, giving the search committee a good, unobstructed look at who he really was and what  he could offer. He figured that he had nothing to lose by being honest and intense, and assumed that they would be frightened off.

Much to his surprise (but not so much to mine) he was very enthusiastically offered the job, which as it turns out, is perfect for him.

And so I begin the long, hard goodbye to this house that has been our home.

I packed my first boxes today, so it has really sunk in that I am really going to be moving. I know that this will be a positive move, and I am looking forward to living in a picturesque New England town….but yet It is so hard to contemplate breaking the continuity of our lives that have led us to this moment, the strands of friendship and shared experiences, the gut knowledge that I have developed about what it means to be from Edison. I am afraid, but I know that the strands that have woven into the tapestry of my life until now will not unravel once we leave this place, but will create the foundation for pattern of my days to come.