Jul 29 2009

Atmospheric & Emotional Turmoil

Published by at 4:43 pm under Education,Travel

After spending 48 hours in Vermont thunderstorms, I’ve recognized yet another corny metaphor for my emotional condition. As I lay curled into a tight ball around my pillow in my dismal motel room, wracked by full-blown terror (of my plans, of my brain), I noticed the similarities to the weather as its ferocity mounted, abated, and blasted in again. The weather has the advantage of not feeling all that stuff; I have the advantage of being able to pop a pill.

I learned today that there’s a huge mental hospital in town, founded in 1834 as the Vermont Asylum for the Insane and now euphemistically called Brattleboro Retreat. It stands on 1000 acres of woods filled with hiking trails that are open to the public. I’ll probably go exploring, but prefer to stay outside the buildings.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve crossed two covered bridges (I’ll have to find out why bridges need roofs), seen a bunch of rivers (or maybe the same one a bunch of times), met a lot of helpful people, eaten hippie food from the Co-op, and looked at close to a dozen living situations. I turned down the invitation (actually, it was begging) from a lonely, elderly woman to come live with her.

No place was perfect, but I picked my favorite this afternoon. It’s a rustic apartment in a renovated 1850s barn, owned by a sweet couple in their sixties or maybe older.


Mine is in the far right corner of this picture. You can see its chimney. However, I didn’t see the inside because the occupants were busy, so I saw the one next to it. That tenant had left the place ready for viewing with a six-pack of fresh condoms on her bed. It made me sad; in my wildest dreams I can’t envision a future in Vermont that requires condoms. No wonder I feel so lonely.

This’ll give you an idea of what the downstairs of my apartment will be like:


The pros and cons of this apartment are the same: it’s three miles into the country out a washboarded, potholed dirt road. So it’s remote and pretty, with the West River a mile away and tons of woods and streams and flowers. But winter snow and spring mud will, by all accounts, be nightmarish.

The place is furnished so that’ll save me a lot of trouble. It has exposed beams (one of which I will hit my head on many times) and pine floors: funky and countrified, with nothing but shades of green out each window.

So I’ve signed the contract and paid the deposit and called back all the people whose places I visited and didn’t pick.

By this time next year, I’ll be able to say I used to live in Dummerston, Vermont.

For all this good stuff, I’m overwhelmingly sad.  So I wonder: why, when I have such a hard time with loneliness and separation, am I leaving behind my beloved daughters and friends, just so I can make new friends and leave them in a year?

My friend A-L, apparently divining from afar my tattered psyche, wrote today:

“Remember that it doesn’t help to wonder why. Think Iris [Dement: ‘Let the mystery be’].”

Now that my Nepali valium is kicking in, I can try.

[But really, friends: why am I doing this?]

I just ate a whole box of zesty lemon Vermont button cookies. Before that I called my elementary school friend Yinyer and I get to see her tomorrow, where she lives outside of Boston!

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Atmospheric & Emotional Turmoil”

  1. Bulwinkle says:

    Pup says Hello. Where’s Freud when you need him? Read “Knots,” R D Laing. Pup says fresh crunchies smell better than stale ones and if you attack HIS foot enough at 7 AM he will either give you fresh ones or throw a book at you. If HE throws a book at you run like hell and re-attack as soon as it is safe to do so. There’s nothing better than fresh smelling crunchies. Also, attack HIS electric plugs and cords. This also will result in fresh crunchies or Henri Miller hurled at ninety miles an hour. Remember, says Pup, this is the only life I am gonna have and I am gonna have as many fresh crunchies as I can have. Meeow.

  2. M says:

    I’m glad there’s an elegant mental hospital with thousands of acres in town. Any town you live in needs such a place. And also a Co-op? Very fine.

    Ohhh. Ooooh. I very much like that place you’ve chosen. It reminds me a little of where we stayed in Guatemala, what with the wooden bits and stairs. I hope it’s not too drafty. Where do I get to sleep?

    Also, YOU are a zesty lemon Vermont button cookie.

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