I couldn’t go back home, I wasn’t ready to face that town, I had lost so much there. The only place I could think stopping after driving for six months was Martha’s Vineyard. It was an island and I found comfort in being all alone in the sea. I had enough friends in Boston if I really needed to see a familiar face, which I made sure to avoid for the last six months. My husband and I had spent a few weekends there back when we lived in Boston and we both for no good reason really really loved it. Maybe that was the real reason it was a way to feel close to those who died my husband for our shared love of the Vineyard and my parents for their love of the ocean and sailing. For whatever reason I was now unloading my car into a furnished cabin with a ocean view. I knew I was overpaying for the most part, but I didn’t really care I wanted the view and the dogs wanted a place to finally stretch out and lay in the sun for days on end.
While many new writers are probably afraid of starting their second book after a successful first, I wasn’t I knew it would fail how could it not, success had only brought me heartache so maybe just maybe failure would bring me back some sort of happiness and heal at least a part of my heart.
Month one of my stationary life started with the dogs and I running the island most mornings then staring at water or the TV depending on the weather. When the weather on the Vineyard finally started to be better than worse most of the time and before the summer residence started to flood over from the mainland, I spent a lot of time with my laptop on my lap while I started at the ocean and watched the dogs play on the beach. Not an ideal start for a writer on a tight timeline and who had spent way too much of her advance on the same porch I was wasting time on.
By month two I had finally figure out what the next book had would be mostly because I had to report this information to the publisher. After that big win in my opinion I took most of the second and third month avoiding doing anything book related. That happens when you pick a topic you're not quite ready to delve into.
I met full-time residents and a few summer visitors in those months. I shared parts of my story to those who asked what brought me to the island. I listened to old timers tell me I paid too much for the place I rented. I became a regular at the local coffee shop, a few of the bars, and the library. After the librarian asked me again how my book was coming I decided it was time for a better answer than “it is going.”
Month four I opened my laptop after a odd super long run with the dogs, much like that time not so long ago when running woke me up from my dreamstate of loss, this run woke me up to how much work I needed to do not only on the book but in getting back into the world. I had run away, I had grieved, it was time to get past all that grieving and running and back to being a member of the world for whatever amount of time I had left.
I spent the next two months rereading all those emails and text I sent while I was on the road, I spent a lot of time crying at the fact that once again I was the only one reading them, but I spent more time admiring all the things I had seen, done, and the people I met. And I started writing, writing about how places made me see the beauty in the world again. I started writing how strangers of all kinds showed me the most supportive network for grief that I could ever had hoped for. I had run away from anything familiar, but I found that my story was familiar to so many that I remember thinking I am nothing special life happens and you just keep moving forward.
I looked at all those pictures I took, I remembered every smell and sound. I laughed at the ones of the dogs playing in the water, chasing birds, or just snuggling up to a stranger who had offered treats and a nice blanket to lay on. I read those emails, texts, looked at those pictures and wrote of my grief filled journey with a new perspective of how the worst things can happen to you and and the world goes on being beautiful, people still go on being kind to a stranger and her two dogs, and I can keep running from things as long as it keeps bringing me somewhere.
Month six I reread my rough draft for the hundredth time, loaded it up in a envelope, and walked it down to the post office. When the clerk took it from my hands I felt the last year lift from my shoulders and my mind six months at a time. I was finally free, free from a timeline, free from guilt of still living, and most of free to be who or what I wanted. I no longer hoped that this book would fail so that I could be happy in some weird twist of fate, I hoped it would succeed so I could see what the next 6 months and the next 6 months would bring me.