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.

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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+