Friday, April 16, 2010

Bless the Broken Road

I get a certain thrill out of seeing the familiar blue and white sign for the Town Landing Market in Falmouth, Maine. On one side it reads "Fresh Fruit, Vegetables, Groceries," and on the other it says "Fresh Native Ice Cubes." It's a very distinctive sign for a very distinctive place that has been around for many years.

When I was a kid, we lived two miles away from it, and I would ride my bike to it all the time. I'd go in for one of those delicious 5 cent pretzel sticks, or a Ben and Jerry's ice cream bar from the freezer. There was also a sandwich window in the back, and occasionally pastries for sale in the front.

The bike ride was a straight shot, took maybe fifteen minutes or so. Sometimes I'd just ride to Island Pond Road, which was the exact halfway point, and sometimes I'd ride all the way.

This is significant, because after two years of moving all over the country, from Vermont to New York, Oregon to Montana and back to New York again, I ended up back in Maine, in Falmouth, in a place that is only a mile from the famed Town Landing Market. After what seems like a lifetime of living in places that I just barely tolerated, places that were, in some cases, "a nice to place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there," and in other cases, "what the hell am I doing in this God forsaken city?" I finally figured out a way to get back home - as the Rascal Flatts song says, "Bless the Broken Road," indeed.

So now when I take a walk, I can walk to Town Landing, when I feel up to it. When I approach that blue and white sign, I feel a tingling in my heart. In my mind's eye, I see myself as a child, on a bike, approaching the store from the road to the left of me. You can approach Town Landing from about four different directions. As a child, I approached from one, but as an adult, more than ten years later, I approach from another. Literally and figuratively. But having "ground zero" remain the same - that connects me and makes me feel just a little more whole, to have this reminder of who I used to be connected with who I am now.

I have, on occasion, been feeling grateful lately. Not all the time, of course, because I still have my instances of pity parties, I still have my worries for the future, and I have a whole new set of worries than I did even a few months ago. But again, isn't that what life is about, for things to change? I suppose so, although in my heart sometimes it's a battle to get used to that.

But there are those little moments, where I remember to be thankful for what I have. And then feel almost guilty for not appreciating it as much as maybe I feel I should. Six months ago, a year ago, two years ago - I would have given anything to read a book. As a child, I was a prodigious reader, and would read several children's books a *day*, something I still can't believe. (Good thing they published so many of those Babysitter's Club books, right?) As an adult, I'd lie in bed for hours nearly every night getting lost in a book. It was one of life's greatest pleasures.

When, in April of 2008, I became sensitized to either the ink or the glue in books (I'm still not sure which), due to my chemical sensitivities, little by little I stopped reading until I was no longer able to read at all. The words would swim in front of me, my eyes and nose would sting, and I couldn't get through a paragraph. Like everything else that happened during that time, I accepted it and went on, because the alternative - thinking of it and actually feeling the despair at this was loss - was too horrible to contemplate. All I wanted to do was curl up in bed with a book, though, and it made me so cranky sometimes that I couldn't.

When I got back to Maine, I tried out some old books that were lying around my stepmom's house and found, to my delight, that I could tolerate them. It felt so good to be reading again. After a few months, I got brave enough to try some library books, and also to my delight, I have done okay with them as well. It is such a luxury to be able to lie in bed and read a book that I can't even tell you. Instead of taking it for granted and complaining about all my other problems, once in a while at least, it would do me good to think of how long I wanted this before it happened.

On the other hand, maybe sometimes the greatest blessing is to be able to live your life without *having* to think about things like this.

I could say the same thing about TV. After years and years of not being able to watch TV because the moving images made me dizzy, and hurt my eyes to even look at it for ten seconds, for some reason, I am now able to watch TV again. I get a kick out of watching all the old sitcoms I used to watch as a kid but haven't watched in years, like Gilmore Girls, Bewitched, All in the Family and Home Improvement. And I love having someone to share them with. I think it may have something to do with the tendency these days to have big screen TVs - when I was younger, they were much smaller. Marion's TV is what I could a "normal size," but most everyone else I know has upgraded to big screens, and those still hurt my eyes. It also has to do with placement - due to what I can only assume is some kind of sensory issue, I need to be looking at the TV a certain way and from a certain angle to be able to tolerate it.

All I can say is it I am glad beyond belief to have something in my life besides the computer and the phone to entertain myself. Most people take reading and watching TV for granted, but for years, they were things I couldn't even dream of doing.

They are small steps, but I feel little by little, the pieces of me are coming back again. I just wish it would hurry up and come back a little faster, because there is still SOOO much left I want to do.

I definitely think part of it has to do with the total stress load a person has, which has gone down dramatically since I have been in Falmouth. The stress load on me the last two years, moving to all those places, was so unbelievably high that almost every day now I think of it - a random memory comes back to me - and I wonder how the hell I ever survived it, and for so long.

I just hope and pray that it lasts, and will try to enjoy it for what it is while I have it, and hope that it continues to improve.

Meanwhile, I am happy that I can finally prove these lyrics of one of my favorite Rascal Flatts songs true (just substitute a place or situation with a person):

Bless the Broken Road

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true."

Or, in the words of another quote that I like, whose source I am too lazy to look up at the moment, "Be patient with the questions in your heart, because one day, without even realizing it, you will live your way into an answer."

Isn't that what we're all trying to do? Live our way into an answer? Some of us just do it faster than others.


  1. I love your writing, especially this post "Bless the Broken Road" In so many ways, it is the little steps that take us the farthest. I feel blessed to have had the chance to witness parts of your journey. You are making your way in the world and i truly believe "a grander plan is coming true" for you.

  2. I'm so glad for you that you've been able to start enjoying books again - a Kindle just wouldn't feel the same!

  3. *That* is for sure. I've been reading some Jodi Picoult books.