I’d been on a roll, writing, and with the temperature in single minus digits the past two days, Ethel and I had avoided our usual long morning walk along the lake. Now the sun was out and with the thermometer above 20 it seemed like a good time to venture out. The snow cover was thin, but enough to coat the sheets of ice beneath and give us both some traction.
We headed down to the lake. The wind had picked up putting an extra bite into that 20 degree temperature. It wasn’t the first time I was thankful I spent, what at the time seemed an exorbitant price, for my bright red Canada Goose parka. That Artic Expedition insignia on the front pocket looks so authentic. I’d been stopped a few times and asked how it was being there, in the Arctic. With this kind of bone cracking cold, who needs to lie about having endured the Arctic.
As we made our way along the familiar path the angry roar from the wind-churned lake was deafening. The gusts were heartless as they swept across the path like a Mahler symphony, through the trees in the woods on the opposite side. The sun was shining, there was a dissonance between the sound and the light so Ethel and I soldiered on.
It was mid day and no one else was there but us. I felt like a true Vermonter, energized by the cold and challenged by the roaring ferocity of unfettered nature that blocked out any human sounds, like the jets that occasionally passed over, or the distant whine of a police siren. We came to our usual stopping point – before the Waterfront park, and turned back. Ethel immediately picked up her pace and started tugging on the leash. She knew we were headed home.
Starting life over again – like a computer reboot – has always energized me. I’ve done it enough times to know I must be pre-programmed to do something dramatic every few years to keep the creative juices flowing and to remind me life is worth living. There is something virginal, clean, about starting over from scratch and if you are flat broke, that can certainly revive an entrepreneurial spirit. In retrospect, the 5 years RG and I spent in that second floor apartment in Somerville were the best, the happiest of our relationship, at least for me. It was a time when all the past fragments of my life were getting pulled back and put together. It helped that I had job and a secure roof over my head.
We had a lot of guests in that one bedroom apartment. I loved the step down kitchen and the old fashioned pantry. I cooked some great turkey dinners in that old oven and I’ll never forget the evening when we had my boss’s mother, Lorna Marshall, over for dinner. We have photos of that 95+ year old woman, being helped smilingly up the stairs by a young German grad student, Sonja S., who was doing the research for her thesis on the Marshall family’s ground breaking ethnographic work with the Bushmen of the Kalahari. Sonja was one of the first students I encouraged when she initially contacted me from her home in Germany. I was still just trying to figure out how to the run the company I had taken charge of a few months earlier. She wanted to come to the US for research. It would have been her first time that far away from home. She also stayed with us in subsequent visits. Her English was good, I still had control over the German I’d learned on Freidrichshof. She confided in us intimacies that she would not dare to reveal at home. We provided the comfort that distance from ones “real life” can offer.
There were many other friends, and acquaintances who shared a meal with us in that cozy kitchen, but my restless need to keep us moving, to keep improving, kept me alert for that moment when the economy dovetailed with our improving financial situation, and it seemed like the right moment to buy a place and relieve ourselves from the underlying insecurity when you have to answer to a landlord. This time we would own something together.