From my desk, as I sit writing this, I can see the water: the Bull River out beyond a large marsh, the look of which changes depending on the tides. Off to my left is a small marina with a tiny cluster of sailboats and power boats; farther to the left still is the bridge to Tybee Island, the tip of which I can view out beyond the river. The sound the cars make as they go over the bridge, a kind of gentle thump thump is as interesting and comforting to me as were the clack of high heels on the pavement outside the Paris apartment where I lived for two years earlier in this century.
I have long desired to live on the water, and to be able to see it as I work at my desk is a luxury that still causes me to breathe in deeply in awe and gratitude. I have been here just over two weeks, the condominium is shaping up and starting to look like it belongs to me and I have begun to hang art on the walls, although there is precious little wall space as the huge windows on two sides of the living room, while letting in light and air and warmth and view, leave only small areas to place paintings. It is a small price to pay for having finally landed in a place of my choosing.
I have met several people here already, at a volunteer organization I have been roped into serving by my active best friend, a native who returned to Savannah a few years ago after living around the world for two decades; at the stunning cathedral-esque synagogue where I worshipped with more Jews in one room than I have seen, perhaps, in my lifetime; at the home of one of the congregants who generously invited me to a post-service lunch. Without exception, all of those whom I have met have asked me: Did you move here alone?
It seems remarkable, in the sense of it being something to remark upon, my move here solo. Alone. Without partner or children.
Yes. The short answer is yes. I am alone.
Do I need to explain to every inquiry that I have a boyfriend still in Virginia? Or children in college who may well end up here at some point? Or that my best friend lives here so, in that, sense, I am not truly alone?
I think not. Because it doesn’t matter. The fact is that I have picked up and moved house, five hundred miles away from the two towns in which I spent the last 26 years of my life. By myself. The last time I lived fully alone was in 1985. The last time I moved hundreds of miles alone I was twenty three years old.
I called my mother the other day and told her that every time I look out at the water I think of her. For most of her own life she wanted nothing more than to live by the sea, but she put it off for reasons only she can fathom, and six years ago, when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the dream became moot. Now she lives in an assisted living complex with no water view, her tiny, lovely house on the East Side of Providence but a memory. She asks me every time I talk to her why I moved to Savannah, and each time I tell her it was just because I wanted to, that, like her, I had longed to live by the water and I had finally done something about it. She sighs, not with envy—her disease has softened her once brittle edges and made her gentle and loving—but with joy for me, with happiness. She can hear in my voice how it gladdens me to have achieved this dream.
So here I sit, well into middle age, re-inventing myself through a new space and a new view and a new way of living. I put my money where my dream was and I leapt. I will sit at my desk, writing as I have done for the past thirty five years, but here I will not mow the grass, or garden in my “spare” time. I will not shovel snow nor maneuver around ice. I will not bundle up for months. I will embrace the heat and the warmth and the slow pace of life in this the deep South. And as often as I can, I will walk on the beach and gaze out at the wide expanse of ocean that is now my neighborhood.
Here I will establish myself, alone