Good-bye, Rhode Island


I lived in Rhode Island for 32 years — longer than anywhere else.

Funny. I’ve always considered myself an Iowan, but I now realize that I knew Rhode Island much better. I grew up in Iowa, but I grew much more in this smallest of all the 50 states. And now, in my sixth decade, I’ve moved across the state line to Groton, Connecticut, exit 86 on Route 95.

I will miss the ease of living in Rhode Island, where you could find everything you needed within a 10-minute ride. (Even as I write that, I remember how much of my life was lost in traffic delays on Routes 95, 146 and 295. I won’t miss that. But I’m sure Connecticut has its own surprises in store for me.)

I lived in three different RI cities — Barrington, East Providence and West Warwick. We lived in an apartment in Barrington for just one year after selling our wonderful little home in South Jersey in 1985. It was on the second floor of a Cape Cod on Walter Street. I don’t remember Barrington being a very welcoming community, but maybe it would have been different if we’d been homeowners. The snob factor was real though, and the only place I felt at home in was the town’s elegant, old library, which one-year-old Mallory and I visited often.

My first job in RI was as a stringer for the Pawtucket Evening Times, and I typed my stories on an electric typewriter in our tiny living room. I couldn’t use the newspaper’s computers because it was a union paper, and only full-time union employees could use the newsroom computers — which felt so weird after spending so much time in newsrooms since college.

We lived in a three-bedroom house on Manning Drive in East Providence for almost 30 years. Hard to believe, 30 years. I remember looking at many houses in Barrington and Warwick when we were ready to buy a home. It was a sellers’ market in 1986, so if you didn’t make an offer right away, you lost the house — and so we did, at least once if not more.

There was nothing memorable about the house we bought — no character, just a tract house in a suburb. But we made an offer and it was ours. No one else wanted it, I guess. We never moved to a larger home over the years, even though we looked several times. We made a few changes to the house, but nothing significant. I always wanted to do more, but it always meant conflict. Maybe it was this inertia, this lack of desire on our part, that made it even easier for me to leave it behind some 30 years later.

When I mentioned the three places I lived earlier, I forgot one. I also lived in Providence for one month after I left in July 2016. I needed a quick place to land and found a sublet on Benefit Street for August while the two RISD students who rented it went home for the summer. The apartment was over a sandwich shop and Korean restaurant — and smelled like it. I was away at work for most of the day, and walked around the city in the evening as late as I could. But I baked at night even as I enjoyed the views of city lights and church spires from the open ceiling-to-floor windows.

From there, I went to 65 Trellis Drive in West Warwick to a condo complex called Hidden Valley. (Really.) It sat right off Route 2, the busiest road in the state, filled with every imaginable big box store. However, my condo was way in the back with only a stone wall and a stand of trees beyond my second-floor back deck. It was quiet and filled with peace. It became my respite, my space, my home — a place that I looked forward to returning to, a place that I could decorate and change and fill with my choices without complaint or negativity. (The only thing I couldn’t do was paint the boring walls.)

And so I have spent the last month moving out of 65 Trellis Drive and moving into my new home on Leafwood Lane. This condo is smaller, but closer to my daughters and their families. There is no back deck, but there is a swimming pool. I have to admit I will miss Trader Joe’s. But I won’t be huffing and puffing up to the second floor with packages. And that’s good.

I will miss you, Rhode Island, but your beaches are still close by, and Providence is just 45 minutes up the road. I’m ready to explore this new home and to find something interesting to do with my time. I will walk along the waterfront and find the library. I have already tried the sushi place, and the Indian restaurant is next.

But first, I will travel to Thailand and Cambodia. And then I’ll come back and get to know you better.







5, 4, 3, 2 … 1

Tomorrow is the last Monday of full-time work for me. Ever.

Last week I had a minor meltdown as I realized that by the end of December, I will be retiring, leaving Rhode Island (after 32 years) and moving to a condo in Connecticut (where I know no one except my daughters and their families).  I had a panic attack just thinking of all the things I need to get done.

Oh, yes, and I’m going to Thailand and Cambodia in five weeks.

What was I thinking?!

I’ll try to write some more this week.

My heart’s starting to race again.

Gone … girl!

Turn around and it’s fall with just three months to go in 2017.

Lots of new things done and new places went. Past tense.

In July, I traveled to Long Island to help my Aunt Bernadette, the Eagle girls and their amazing families celebrate Bernadette’s nine decades on this earth. And they definitely know how to celebrate!

In August, I spent a week on Block Island with my friend Cheryl in a rented house, with visits from my sister, Nancy; her brother, Rich; her daughter, Kerri, and husband, Jared, and new baby, Cole; and Jared’s parents. By the end of the week the weather was so nasty that we had to close the house one day early, but it was interesting to see how whipped up those waves can get.

In September, I visited an amazing brewery in Massachusetts with Mallory and Emily and families. A beautiful day outdoors with beers and music. Can’t go wrong!

And, in a few days, at the start of October, I’ll be headed to St. Paul, Minnesota, to see my sisters, Jean and Mary, and my cousin, Elizabeth. We have an Airbnb that is located in an area of the city with streets of historic Victorian homes. Should be beautiful, interesting and fun to see everyone! I’ll also be visiting some college friends — can’t wait to see them too!

I’m not sure what November has in store for me yet, but I’ll be retiring from the full-time work life in December — AND moving to Connecticut. That’s an adventure in itself!

To mark this change in my life with a humongous exclamation point, I’ve signed up for a trip to Thailand and Cambodia for two weeks in January … ! This is so far outside of my comfort zone that it seemed, at the time, like a good idea. I’m on shaky ground, but I think I’ll do fine. I’m going with a group of 20 people from all over the world, and we’ll be volunteering on local projects and touring the countries. When I read about the program, I liked the mix of doing something and seeing something. It feels right.

I am still amazed every day by this new life. And I know I’ve chosen the right path now more than ever.

In the next few months, I’ll be looking for part-time work opportunities. I’m not sure where that will lead me, or what that even looks like, but I know I’ll be open to whatever feels right when it comes my way. No more fears.

Weekly photo challenge: Green!

Weekly photo challenge: collage

This was fun to do — a collage of blues!

The next chapter

happiness blooms

Today is July 15.

On Dec. 8, 2017, five months from now, I will retire after working at paid jobs (mostly) as a bean walker, corn detasseler, barn painter, waitress, Hardee’s employee, college dormitory food service worker, Target shoe department employee, ISU Alumni student worker, Iowa State Daily reporter and copy editor, Boone News-Republican reporter/photographer intern (no pay), Gloucester County Times (NJ) food/education editor and news editor, Pawtucket Times (RI) stringer, Dine-Out-Tonight (in the Superman building in Providence!) copywriter, Amica Insurance (RI) corporate communications writer, Seekonk High School (MA) English teacher and Amica Insurance (again) communications specialist and communications and PR manager.


All that adds up to more than 45 years of paychecks for seasonal and part-time work (age 15 to 22) and full-time work (22 until now). I took off almost one year when Emily was born (Mallory was in kindergarten), and I got about eight weeks off when Mallory was born. Other than that, I worked full-time. As a teacher for 12 years, I had my summers off to enjoy with my daughters at Rhode Island beaches, and we visited grandparents and big families and lots of friends in New Jersey, Iowa and South Dakota every summer.

I cherish those summers with them. So many wonderful memories.

In December, I will leave my job of the past 11 years and move to a condo in Groton, Connecticut. I’ll be about 30-40 minutes from my daughters’ homes in Colchester. It’s far enough and close enough for all of us. I hope I can be there for them when they need me — and not underfoot when they don’t. I look forward to exploring the southeastern Connecticut shore area, finding a good library, a bike trail, a walking path, an empty beach. I hope my new neighbors will be friendly. And I hope I will be brave enough to make new friends.

Rhode Island is still right up the road. I’ll probably be even closer to some great RI beaches than I am now. I hope to hold on to friendships and connections I enjoy here. I have come to love this state with all its quirkiness and self-indulgence and feelings of inferiority. Little does it know how beautiful it is — how many wonderful places it contains.

I may be retiring, but I won’t quit writing. (And I hope, hope, hope I’ll still get paid for writing.) I’ll be looking for a part-time jobs after I get settled in Groton. I’d like to work for a nonprofit or some other program that needs help. If that doesn’t happen, I’d love to work with my hands (flowers, gardening, outdoors, seaport, casino — we’ll see).

As of today, I’ve been on my own for one year. I left my husband and my home after 37 years of marriage last July. It’s something I don’t talk about because it makes others (and me) uncomfortable and sad. I’ve never been alone like this before. I grew up with 6 brothers and sisters and shared a bedroom all my life. I went to college and had a roommate. I got married and had a husband. And now I live in a condo with 2 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths that I share with no one.

And I am happy..

My life is my own. My choices are my own. I can get up and go somewhere or sit all day without someone passing judgment. I can be myself. I don’t have to compromise, if that’s what you call it. I don’t have to deal with negativity and anger and pessimism. For so many years I did things by myself because my husband had no interest in going somewhere new or trying a different restaurant or going to a movie or just going for a drive. And I felt lonely back then. Now when I go places by myself or try something new, I may be alone but I am never lonely. My next steps are to go to a concert by myself and to go on a long trip by myself.

It wasn’t always like this, but somewhere along the way we lost it and we never got it back. For years I tried to ignore the fact that we didn’t make each other happy. I left and came back. He left and came back. I kept thinking it would get better. But it didn’t. We didn’t. And finally I left for good. I’m sad about that, but sadder about all those empty years.

Happiness blooms from within.

And so it goes,

I hope you know happiness. Peace.