I’m leaving this residency a less fearful and more inspired, thoughtful person. The entire time I lived in income-based housing, I said that I wasn’t really working much because what job could possibly pay me enough to value the one commodity I have always prized above all else? Time. (Believe me, I look back on that version of me with some level of shame at that entitlement. Reality Bites is hardly comedy or fiction for me. #HardcoreGenXer)

Sometimes I wish life were more binary. I want to be stretchy. Period. I don’t want to be stretchy and chasey, although truthfully, being chasey sometimes drives me to figure things out just to alleviate my envy. But it’s hard to live simultaneously with those two qualities because the chasey feels like it is drowning the stretchy, and I know that the stretchy just needs more time.

But part of that speed is simply the unbelievable amount of creative content I have produced. The other thing I spent a lot of time doing in these past 10 days was walking. LOTS of walking. And I decided to catalog those steps because I used those walks, intentionally and unintentionally, as my dreaming, mental break time. It’s in those down periods where my, and frankly most people’s, best ideas occur. It’s when I stop “thinking” and just let my mind be that I get past the surface and break into deeper thoughts. And I wanted this recipe card to be a reminder of that for me

I think I got cocky about my “new” rhythm, assuming (incorrectly as it turns out) that in the nine days since my first round of this unease, I had shaken it and formed a completely new set of habits that would just carry me going forward. I was utterly certain that Dr Marry could come visit (wouldn’t change that, regardless this dumb day’s outcome, likely in part from that disruption) so far into my time away that it wouldn’t throw my routine into chaos. Turns out my confidence was misplaced.

We talked for awhile, this man, whose name I heard as Matt, and I. He was relatively drunk but so, so pleasant…and that accent! My biggest concern was, interestingly, not the drinking. I could excuse that because his family were over from England, and it was their last night, and you know how the Irish can drink (somehow that was comforting excuse. Hindsight!). No, my biggest concern was his swearing. I’d never heard those few words used so effortlessly in many parts of speech in my life.

So I try to keep September 10, 2001, always present in my mind, even though I can’t tell you a single thing that actually happened on that day. I keep it present because that day is a perfect example of the “before” time to whatever instance abruptly stops you in your tracks and hijacks your world. Before the diagnosis. Before the accident. Before the breakup. Before the ______________.

My bedroom is at the end of a hallway that runs the long length of house. Every morning, making my way down that hallway, I have fallen into the same detailed narrative: There’s a man, quiet and so still he almost seems asleep, sitting at the head of the table where my creative work things are splayed out: my grandparents’ courtship letters, my books, last night’s lecture notes from the course I am teaching, rocks, leaves, sticks and other bits and bobs picked up from my daily country road walks.

Seriously, living is not for the faint of heart. And intentional living can be downright terrifying! I’m not exceptional, despite the fact that I am absolutely extraordinary and ordinary all the time and often simultaneously. My life has had ups and downs, highs and lows. Terrible and glorious things have happened to me, and I have actively chosen terrible and glorious things, too.