I’ve lived in this little town for the past 12 years, but never really knew anyone around here except for my landlord and his small family. Every weekday, I commuted into Boston for my job, and after discovering my yoga studio in 2011, went there every night after work, grabbed a quick bit to eat at Whole Foods, took the 8:30pm train home, and prepared to do it all again in the morning. On weekends, I did my chores- laundry, grocery shopping, cooking meals for the week, and sometimes headed back into Boston for a yoga workshop. It has been a very solitary existence.
Since I’ve returned home from the PCT, I’ve been able to spend more time in this town in which I live than I’ve ever had before, which has been nice. When I’m not hiking for months at a time, I can’t seem to get enough time at home. I still commute into Boston most days to teach several yoga classes per week, as well as take a few classes at my studio, but I’ve also been able to walk on the beach more days than not this summer. For years, I never even visited the beach! I always wish that my friends from Boston would come up and visit me so that we could enjoy the beach, the nice weather, and a nice meal together, but as it has now been over 10 months since I’ve been back, I’ve given up on that hope. The girls at the coffee shop have been my only source of company around here. It is the only business that I frequent (not having any spending money) and whenever I feel too lonely, I go over there and sit for a bit with them. It took a long time (mainly due to the winter weather), but three of us finally hung out one afternoon at the end of May. It was so much fun! I got to meet a 50 year old talking pet bird, laugh a lot, hear some gossip, briefly check out a couple of small beaches, and eat a delicious sushi dinner. We agreed that we should continue to get together once a week- whoever is available can gather. Unfortunately, this idea never took form. The second gathering took place just last weekend when we went to watch one of the girls perform in her play.
However, in the meantime, I also became friends with a very sweet woman who suffers from Alzheimer’s (or something similar). In the winter, I would see her and her husband in the coffee shop eating their lunch. She is from Florida and loves to talk to anyone around. She has a very cheerful attitude and loves to joke and share memories from her past. One day this spring, after walking back to my apartment from the beach, I saw her picking flowers by a stone wall next to my landlord’s house. I waved to her and she waved back and then kept looking at me with a big smile on her face. She then waved me over and asked if I would like to come inside. “Okay!” I said. She offered me some ginger ale and said we could sit and chat and get to know one another. She kept asking me where I lived and if my family was expecting me. We went through several rounds of this and finally she asked me to write down my name and phone number. I told her she should call me and we could go for a walk sometime. She loves to walk to the beach. Over the next couple of weeks, I saw her a few times and she remembered my face and always greeted me enthusiastically, and even gave me a few hugs when we parted. I think she appreciates having someone to walk and talk with and I really enjoy her positive energy. She is full of child like wonder. Every time that she hears a bird, she stops and looks for it, her face open and lit up. And every time she walks onto the beach, she picks up limpet shells as if it was her first time doing so, telling anyone around, “These are called Mermaid slippers” and finds someone to give them to. She finds so much delight in watching children play and loves to talk with them and share her seashell findings. One day, she offered them to the teenaged lifeguard, who kindly accepted them. She also loves to pick flowers and make arrangements.
A couple of weeks ago, when I saw her and husband sitting with another couple on a bench by the ocean after my walk, she did not recognize me. It had been too long. “What’s your name?” she asked when I stopped to say hi. Her husband said, “That’s Wendy.”
“Oh! Her name should be ‘lovely’!” she responded. They made room for me to join them and they called me “Wendy Lovely”, after that, which I didn’t mind. I kept eyeing their white wine, but there were no extra cups to share. Before they left, I told her husband about my next talk that I was giving in a few days and he seemed very interested. They gave me a ride home and I gave them a flier. The next night, I saw them again at the beach. It was the night of the super moon and after my walk (instead of my planned attempt at going for a jog), I went home and found a stray beer in my refridgerator from when I had a visitor at the beginning of April. I walked back down to the beach and drank my beer with my newfound company, as we shared peanuts. It was so nice! The moon took forever to appear, but we all stayed to watch it rise.
And as promised, Charlie and his wife came to hear my talk! Charlie was very concerned that I only posted a flier at the coffeeshop that I go to (The library does most of the publicity and I don’t spend any energy on trying to get anyone to attend. I know that whoever is meant to be there will be there). This was the first talk in which I was having a great deal of trouble getting my slideshow to appear on the screen. Because I made it on Mac-specific software, it is complicated to transfer to an external source. Charlie and Christine were the first couple to arrive, and because I was trying to figure out this major issue, I didn’t have much of a chance to say hi. Another couple came in, but as the clock ticked toward 7, no one else had arrived. Charlie told me that I should have put fliers up other places. I was still working through the connecting problems (Charlie said I would have to reschedule it and show it in my apartment), so I wasn’t very concerned about the lack of an audience- if four people were there, I would still give the presentation. But then, the librarian opened the door to discover a crowd waiting in the lobby! They didn’t think they were allowed in! As they poured into the room, Charlie gave me two thumbs up and I flashed him a big smile! Everything was just fine!
After my talk (the fourth one that I’ve given so far), the connections started to grow…
(I will write about this in another post.)
It’s been a difficult 10 months, but things are finally starting to turn around for me!