Figuring Out Where to Go From Here

Route 66During the past three years, ever since the death of my life mate/soul mate I’ve been trying to figure out where to go from here. Currently I am taking care of my 96-year-old father, but someday this responsibility will come to an end, and I will have to find somewhere to live.

Or do I?

By nature, I am a quasi-hermit who easily settles into routines, and now that I am alone, that very nature could become a problem. Unless I do something to prevent stagnation, years from now I could end up being one of those forgotten old women, living behind closed curtains in a dingy apartment. Doesn’t seem like a healthy way to live, but to be honest, I’m not interested in another long-term committed relationship, either. Still, there is a world of opportunity between those two extremes.

When I met the man I was to spend thirty-four years of my life with, I become the most spontaneous I’d ever been. His being in the world made it seem as if the world were full of possibilities, and I grabbed hold of life with both hands and ran with it. Years later, as he got sicker and life took its toll on our finances, the possibilities shrank. Our lives became staid and minutely planned to take his infirmities into consideration. He told me once he regretted that the constraints of our life destroyed my spontaneity, and he was sorry to be the cause of it.

It’s not something I like to face, but the last years, and especially the last months of his life were terrible for both of us. And, something I like to face even less is that his death set me free. The best way to honor my mate’s life and his great gift of freedom is to take back the thing he thought he stole from me. So, to that end, I’m considering becoming a wanderer, living by wit and whim, at least for a while.

When I mentioned this idea to one of my grief-group friends, she said she’d love to be able to live such a life, and she’d do it in a flash if she had a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

Two hundred thousand dollars? Would it really take so much? I hope not, because I don’t have that kind of money — or any kind at all, to be honest — and unless my books became a belated overnight sensation, I have no way of getting it. On the other hand, if I don’t have rent or a mortgage to deal with, if I don’t have utility bills and other standard expenses every month, if I don’t drive all day using up tankfuls of gas but take short jaunts from place to place, then all I’d have to deal with is motels and food, and I might be able to swing that for a few months. I might even be able to find ways of extending the wandering, such as staying with friends and relatives for a few days, or perhaps even try some sort of crowd-funding such as Kickstarter.

Although I would be living by whim, the wandering life, for however long it lasted, wouldn’t be entirely pointless. I could visit bookstores and try to get them interested in my books. I could chronicle the journey, taking pictures of the places I visited, interviewing people, noting differences from place to place (if there are any. For all I know, one place could look the same as any other with a McDonald’s, Dairy Queen or Sonic, and Walmart wherever I went). I could even end up with a new book!

At the very least, I might be able to figure out where to go from here.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

14 Responses to “Figuring Out Where to Go From Here”

  1. Stephen Leslie France Says:

    This appears to be a very positive and productive motion in your journey.

    I wish you all the best with it.

  2. patshaw4 Says:

    You need to talk to wombat friend Lisa. She’s living this exact sort of life right now. You might pick up some inspiration or pointers. Good luck to you.

  3. leesis Says:

    I think you show healthy insight into the ‘risky’ side of your personality traits and I dig your solution Pat :).

    If you were an Australian I’d say sell your ‘stuff’, gather all your coins together and buy a caravan…I don’t know what your equivalent to a Aussie caravan is…(I’m presuming you already have a car).

    Then, if you don’t know already how to, teach yourself how to tow and reverse your van. And then…go.

    Travel around your country. See what there is to see. Meet who there is to meet. Experience. Stop in little towns you like for a little while. And if you can manage it put a little money aside each week; chose one country different from your own and plan your trip there. The more different the culture is from yours, and the more you connect with the local people, the more valuable the journey as far as I can see.

    Just an idea given with love 🙂 Leesa

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s an interesting suggestion getting a caravan, (caravans are called fifth wheels here), but considering my current dearth of finances, not at all possible. It would also make it possible for me to be a hermit, and the point is to meet who there is to meet. (What a great way to put it!)

      I’d considered the idea of flying to London and then winging it once I got there or taking a freighter to New Zealand, but I like your suggestion of a totally different culture.

      The more I consider this idea of being a wanderer, the more I panic — mostly about finances — but then I think about the alternative, and it seems feasible again. I need to broaden my horizons and see where that takes me. (Or what that makes of me.)

  4. Steve Lakey Says:

    I hope you’re able to get your writing out to the large readership it deserves. Good luck on your journey. 🙂

  5. Cathy Gingrich Says:

    Hi Pat…you’re new idea of roaming the world at large was my desire at 16. On TV, I watched a show called “Route 66″…a series of two cool guys running around America in an MG…or was it a Corvette? Cars have never interested me that much, but this episode did. They met a girl who worked at a charity organization (something similar to the Salvation Army), whose name was Susan. I can still remember her name! One of the guys fell in love with her. Then she disappeared. The storyline was that she was a girl filled with wanderlust and satisfied it by running into a strange town, getting a job, tasting that lifestyle, and then she’d move on to the next place…never really getting to know anyone or anything. A totally free, uncommitted lifestyle.

    It sounded great to me then, but not so much now. I’m a homebody, too. I also took care of a parent until four years ago. When my mother passed, it was the first time since I was 18 years old that I had not been responsible for anyone, but myself. What a relief! What a terror! The good news was that now I could do all those things I said I wanted to do. The bad news was that now I could do all those things I said I wanted to do.
    I started painting again, which has always been my first love. I still love it, but I am no Van Gogh. In between painting projects, I can uncap a tube of titanium white, take a big sniff, thus getting a “quick fix” until my next paint endeavor.

    Being an insatiable reader, I started writing in earnest. The first 3 books were so bad that I destroyed every page of them, making sure no one would ever use them to blackmail once I became a quality author. Then I began a very real auto-biography. But that was too painful…all the wrong choices for all the wrong reasons. I had my ah-ha moment about five years ago. Write about what you love, is common advise. I loved history, never really getting out of my “princess” mode. Strong women making bad decisions, more fragile women, forced by circumstances to be strong…women, I believe, have expressed both those traits in the pages of my book, “The Darque Princess Chronicles” which you so graciously uploaded on your sight. It’s a favor I will never forget, a boon to a total stranger. Few people will risk that.

    Right now, I’m in the midst of getting the “Princesses” online at, but what a trial this has been. My youngest daughter (42) helped me, but she has a busy life. I don’t understand the techno jargon needed to meet the format guidelines. Thousands of books are out there, so I guess some writers can handle it…or they have a couple of grand to satisfy their need to publish. I don’t. Boy, I have really turned this”all about you” into “all about me”. Forgive me. You seem like a longtime friend in the heartless world of publishing. I think you should not post this as my attempt to answer your question has been over-examined. A newscaster down here in St. Pete has written a delightful little book called, “One Tank Trips” which takes you to innumerable mini-vacations; fun places and quirky people. It’s how I will satisfy my wanderlust. I wish you all the very best no matter which road you travel. Cathy

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The wandering life style never appealed to me, but I will have to leave here in the not too distant future, and I have no reason to move one place rather than another. I need to do something other than what I’ve always done. The great thing about having mostly online friends is that they go where I go.

      Have you tried Create Space? It might be easier than Lulu.

      • Cathy Gingrich Says:

        Pat, Although you didn’t ask for opinions, here’s mine anyway. I have a daughter in PA, my home state, who loves the seasonal changes there, I have a daughter in Atlanta who is happy with rain and homes built on mountains, and another daughter who has recently moved to San Francisco who is happy to be chilly most of the year. I’m a big fan of Florida, especially the Tampa Bay area. I love warmth, sun and an a life lived mostly outdoors. I didn’t like Texas or Alabama very much for various reasons. I would love to try Hawaii, but it’s so expensive. I visited Mexico, but things seem too unstable there in less you incarcerate yourself in a gated community. I visited Costa Rica twice, and fell in love with the country and the people. I seriously considered moving there…it is a paradise. If you watch HGTV’s “House Hunting” and “International House Hunting”, many homes are on display and you can discern something of the community around them. Bon Voyage, Amiga

  6. Malene Says:

    You know, every time you write about traveling, for some reason it conjures up images of “Travels with Charlie” in my head. You are such a great writer and I, for one, think it would be awesome to read a travelogue slightly akin to that great, little Steinbeck work but with your particular style, from a woman’s perspective and in today;s world. . I hope you do it … and write about it.

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