A door, closed.

When one door closes, another door opens. That’s the cliche, right? Sometimes a door closes and you find yourself closed in or shut out. You find that the door is now locked, so you can’t go back that way. Have you noticed that? Most people recognize that, in the words of Thomas Wolfe, you can’t go home again, and some wouldn’t want to. But I’ve always been a little nostalgic and look over my shoulder a lot, usually to ask all the what-ifs. The answers are typically elusive. The past just stares back at me, unmoving, unchanging. Sometimes I see something new in the past, if I look long enough and if I squint just so. But usually, it’s just an unchanging past, stone still. Mostly what I can discern from the view is all those little (or big) mistakes I made along the way. I try to learn from those, but I know I’ll continue to make mistakes because I’m human. That’s what we humans do best, isn’t it?

So when the house sold – finally – this week, I let out a sigh of relief while acknowledging that it didn’t go as planned. My timing was off by enough that it cost me, in real dollars, to get it off my plate. I expected to feel better, relieved, less anxious, and to even be a little happy about it. Well, I was happy to have it over, and I was grateful – beyond grateful – to have it off my plate. What happened, though, was that the nagging headache that started that morning quickly became a migraine that made me feel as though the back of my head would explode. A bit of hyperbole, yes, but it’s hard to describe such intense pain without a little exaggeration. It sent me to bed. Once all of the paperwork was done and I was free of the place, I crawled into bed and stayed there for a few hours. My anxiety dropped quickly when I saw that the wire transfer of the proceeds to my account was complete. And then Zillow notified me that a house I had saved in my favorites was sold. It was really over. And I don’t have to go searching for a new place, because I’m already in my little house in the foothills of the Blue Ridge. The cooler fall weather is here, and some of the leaves are changing. I’m changing, too.

Some things that have been bothering me are coming to a head. Many things in my life and my son’s life are coming to a close (some good, some sad). The things that are coming to a head are causing me a lot of anxiety. I thought the sale of the house was my biggest stressor, but it turns out there’s a bigger one. I don’t know what to do about it yet. As usual, I’m going to pray and meditate on it. The answer will come to me.

The area in which I live is somewhat conservative, so I keep myself to myself. That’s a weird space for me to be in, because I tend to be a more open person. I like to live my life out loud. I’m involved in the LGBTQIA+ employee resource group at work, and I hope to get us aligned with organizations such as Out & Equal in the Workplace. But what about out and equal at home? I knew that life would be different here, and I’m still trying to find my safe spaces. My son’s friends are very open, and they like me. They’re excited that I’ll be joining them in some gatherings. How cool is that? I’m so grateful. My heart and soul have rarely been as old as my body.

The nice man who mows my lawn and whose daughter is one of my next door neighbors said, “You can make a lot of friends around here at church.” I nodded and smiled. I changed the subject. As I told a co-worker yesterday, I converted to Catholicism in 1994, and even though I have issues with the dogma of most Christian faiths, I love the ritual and beauty of a Catholic mass. My son knows that if I need a clergy member, a priest is what I want. The closest Catholic church is at least 45 minutes away, so if I make it to the high holy days, that will be it. I grew up Baptist and am surrounded by Baptist churches here (really – how many do you need??), but I will never ever go back. (And they really don’t like Catholics.) I try not to think about how any given church discriminates against people like me. Instead, I just keep my mouth shut.

Something I haven’t told anyone except my son is that my oncologist seems to be somewhat anti-gay, which surprises me. He’s a Jewish man who was adopted by an Italian family. He was raised in NYC and went to school at Georgetown. He spent 27 years of his career in Northern Virginia. But as he was talking with me and getting to know me, he told me a sad story about his wife and how she was date-raped during her college years, resulting in PTSD. She was also molested by a family member when she was young. He was very chatty, once he found out I was a writer. And then he said this.

“There’s so much craziness in the world. I mean, gay Boy Scout leaders? Who thought that was a good idea? Sending those young boys out there with gay men?”

I measured my words carefully. After all, I need this guy to treat me if the cancer comes back. So I simply said, “Well, no matter someone’s sexual orientation, I think sending your children off with strangers is just a bad idea.”

He nodded and agreed with me, “Yeah, you put it much better than I could have.”

I was a little shaken. Thank goodness they had already taken my BP, because I’m sure it went up after that conversation. How many times have I heard those same tired arguments that spread hate, lies, and stereotypes? A pedophile is a pedophile. I’m not going to look up the statistics, but I’d wager there are far more heterosexual male predators than there are homosexual ones.

Other encounters have been less rattling, but nonetheless they inform my silence. A med tech who casually says, “With us baiting Russia, I’m pretty sure we’re all gonna get blasted off the planet.” The Trump t-shirts (few and far between, but still). Little things add up.

And I do miss my doctors in Maryland. My health was under control there, but it isn’t so much here. I’ve been dealing with some flare-ups that I wonder if I’d be dealing with had I been able to stay on my scheduled appointments with my regular providers. Getting medical records transferred has been a nightmare, which has led to delays in my care. Getting appropriate care is the only thing that keeps me able to work, so lest you think I’m just whining about first-world problems, you should know that some of these treatments are the only thing standing between me and disability.

I need to see a neuro-ophthalmologist for a 6-month follow-up on the problem with my right eye, but I need to drive an hour to get to one. Since they’ll probably want to dilate my eyes, that will mean my son has to take part of the day off, come get me, drive me to Charlotte, bring me home, and drive back home himself. Come to think of it, he might as well take the whole day off.

I knew these things could be issues when I made the choice to sell my house in Maryland and move. I just keep plugging along and hoping it all gets worked out.

It’s not all bad news, though! As I said earlier, the weather is cooler now, and the leaves are changing. I doubt we will see really brilliant colors this fall because of a dry summer, but my neighbor has a tree that is popping brilliant yellow and red leaves. The guy from the fence company came out Thursday evening and measured for my new fence. It was a project that was waiting until the sale of my other house was finished. I’m really looking forward to being able to sit out on the deck in the evening with my dog without having to keep her on-leash. Both of my neighbors have dogs, and mine wants to run the fence line with them so badly. Unfortunately, that means she sometimes tries to drag me along!

As the fall continues, my son and I will plan a couple of short trips together. I want to go see a friend and co-worker up in Boone. We want to go to Biltmore Estate when they decorate for Christmas. I have another friend in Fletcher I’d like to see. My son will be flying up to see his dad for Thanksgiving, so we’ll be having a Friends-giving at one of his friend’s homes at the end of October. We’ll spend Christmas together. He’s the biggest reason I moved down here, but I also like western North Carolina. It’s very beautiful.

That’s pretty much all the news from my neck of the woods. It has been a busy Saturday morning so far, and I have much yet to do! I hope you have an amazing weekend and that all your dreams come true.

Peace, Jude

Next up: this year’s NaNoWriMo. Should I try it again? How will I find the time? Stay tuned.

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