Friday, June first I drove into Grand Rapids from Ann Arbor finishing the last leg of my journey home from my two month long residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. I felt a mixture of emotions as I passed the sign on I96 letting my know that the exit for Fuller Ave was in 1 mile.
I don't live at 106 Fuller Avenue any more but for the past 11 years I did. I drove on past the exit and got off at the Wealthy Street exit that would take me to my new home on Division in the Grand Rapids Michigan Heartside Neighborhood. When I caught my first glance at my new apartment my heart sank at what looked so cold, white, empty and lonely. I bit the bullet, rented a U-haul and went shopping. Target, St Vincent DePaul's and Archive Antiques; I needed everything, from a can opener to a bed and bed linens. I haven't added up what I spent but I walked to my car in the Target parking lot pulling two shopping carts loaded full behind me.
When I finally had everything unwrapped and put away I was completely exhausted. Collapsing on my new (secondhand) king size bed I slept a full eight hours that night (I can't remember the last time I slept eight hours un-interrupted.) I woke up not sure at first where I was. Saturday was a hard day because I felt so washed up on the shore alone. I went through my phone list of contacts and realized there where really only a small handful of people I could count in the territory of "close friend". I started sending texts most of which left my phone mute for a long time until Bill responded to my invitation for a lunch date. A ship on the horizon responding to my smoke signals!
Today feels much better as I type away on my laptop at the Lantern coffee house barely a five minute walk from my apartment door. I think in some ways the artist residency suspended some of the hard reality of my marriage's ending. Through out the separation I had been living in the carriage house in the backyard so again the marriage was over but not really. Now it is really over, over and over. The reality of this huge life shift is now hitting with full force. I know deep down that some of the aloneness I feel is an important part of the rebooting of my life. It's almost as if I am downloading important new software and while this download is in process some parts of my life are kind of shutting down for awhile. Its natural, it's what needs to happen and I remind myself of this as I sometimes feel a deep sense of loss.
I am also very excited because of the way my life continues to open up in new ways. I am encouraged by some of the new relationships I now have with people who live in other parts of the country and other countries. I have a new level of freedom that I have never experienced before. The question remains if I in fact want to remain in Grand Rapids. I may want to move to another city and have a fresh start where there aren’t all the constant reminders everywhere of the life I had before. I may want to find a city that will have more opportunities for my work as an artist to stretch out and grow.