There is somebody in my house in Vermont. A nice man is renting my house and I am thrilled because that man is renting my house and sending me money so that I can rent an apartment in Providence. Now, wait a minute. Does this make sense? I thought so, a few weeks ago, when I was working here, singing, planning, organizing, hob-knobbing, but as of today, as I lugged a bunch of my crap up two flights of stairs on the East Side, all the while knowing I would have to lug the crap back down the two flights of stairs a few months from now— as of today, I thought to myself, “Gee, I don’t feel very good in my head” I sat on the stairs, dirty stairs, very dirty, and considered my situation. I blamed the town of Bridport , Vermont, for not having a Dunkin Donut’s or a Cafe, a bar or a nightclub, a college, tennis courts, health club, movie theater. Then I blamed myself for wanting those things. Then I blamed myself for having those things here in Providence and not taking advantage of them because I like staying home and reading in bed. Now, if I like staying home and reading in bed, why don’t I just move back to my own home, in Bridport, and wait out the winter with Charles Dickens and Mark Twain? Now that I have rented my house, I miss it. It is not available. That is why I was so sad today, moving into what I thought was a nice apartment on the East Side. It is somebody elses house and always will be, no matter how many knick knacks, rugs, paintings, books, personal items I stuff into it. Renting makes me feel insecure, more insecure than worrying about how to pay my property tax. It’s silly, because none of us own anything fully. Still, sombody is in MY house and i am in somebody else’s house, and it’s ridiculous in a way that I can’t quite comprehend and it is making me very very sad.
Thing is, the place is empty. It was, in fact, all closed up for the winter. I had a neighbor go over to turn the electricity and gas on, chase away the mice, and plow the drive. I have a last minute tenant, a man who moves in on December 28th- who wants the winter solitude to write, and be near his kids, at UVM and Vergennes. It will be good to meet him before I make my way back to Providence, thank him for getting me through what I thought would be a very tough winter. Now, all is well in that regard. Maybe I want to go home to thank the house for being there. For saving me. Maybe I want to clean and paint and love on it, look out at the lake view my mother stared at, endlessly, during the uncomfortable months before she died. She’d go out at dusk in her nightgown, steady herself at the porch railing and stare at the mountains and lake. She’d stand there and watch the day disappear….say good-bye to a day that might be her last. She absorbed the surroundings through all senses so that she might take it with her when she died. I’ll arrive around dusk, and all that she witnessed from the porch railing will be there, even if she isn’t. You wonder if this might be a mistake. Should I spend Christmas with friend’s, or drive to D.C. to surprise my daughter, or fly to San Francisco to confound a brother? Or just stay in the loft with the dog and enjoy my own company? I have many options, so why take to an icy highway and head for an empty cottage, in a place where the silence so complete that it seeps under the bed quilts, into your bones, so quiet that the sound of your heart and breath interrupt concentration. The silence is aggravating because it’s bitter medicine. The thick-headed dullness of my obtrusive life, a life of mindless busy-ness and shallow aquaintance, clears itself in an arena of loss, and the truth of that loss — that is must be accepted, will set my future course.
My friend, Sidney of Newport, screenwriter. She and I wrote a script called ” Sabotemps” several years ago, while living in an auto parts store in Brooklyn and almost sold it, except that was the year that William Morris bought “The Temp” script. “Sabotemps” is based on a true story of a woman named Laurel who tried to get assigned to companies who harmed certain population segments – i.e. Phillip Morris – and would wreak havoc internally, usually, due to her alarming ability to type 98 w.p.m. – in the office of the C.E.O. — Sid and I recently dug the script out of a drawer and are tweeking it. Why? We have nothing better to do.