Sunday, March 14, 2010

On My Own

DeAnn Louise Daigle AWW 1/16/10

Boston meant I was on my own for the very first time. No curfews, no supervision, no classes to attend. I would need a job to pay rent; that was the practical piece. I also needed to eat. But after that, the field was open. I could walk the city, observe, write, dream, hope, fall in love … or not.

Mom and Dad were thirteen hours away by bus ride north, Aunt Rill and Uncle Jerry, my second parents, practically speaking, were five hours away south by train.

I was on my own in regards to my daily life, and this was like breathing rarefied air, seeing clearly with no impediments.

I was no kid. At twenty-three, this was where and when I got my first apartment. I could fix it up in any way I wanted. So, I bought unfinished furniture that I could sand down and antique. A table, two chairs, a dry sink, which would be my dresser; I could store my sweaters and shirts and other folded clothes in it. Yet, it did not look bed-roomy.

Since this small studio apartment was my home, I wanted it to look homey. The table had leaves that folded down, but would also turn into a larger table if I needed it. I would have to get a sofa bed. I wanted a long sofa, which would fill up the wall space and provide plenty of sitting space for guests. And, of course, a rocking chair – a wonderful wooden chair, which I painted black and stenciled the upper back with colorful yet dainty flowers, red and pink with green stems. I painted gold squiggles on the arms. I loved the way it looked. I bought a small padded cushion for the seat that matched the predominantly red braided rug for the floor space. When I moved in, I had brought one suitcase, one portable typewriter that Dad had bought me when I was in high school, my bible and a hair dryer. A small radio/TV set that Dad felt I just had to have also came along. This was really impressive. I’d never seen one before. The screen was about five inches and the picture black and white.

I slept in my friend’s sleeping bag until I found just the right sofa bed – a soft gold and black patterned material. It was perfect! The antique painted furniture when finished was a dark wood looking like oak. It took several weeks to complete; each coat having to dry before the next color was applied. This was now September 1972. I had arrived in August.

Boston was where I’d come right after high school. I had studied at a fashion retailing school for a year. I’d returned home to northern Maine afterwards, knowing I’d return to Boston, hopefully soon. I’d get a job, work. Save my money and return. Someday.

I would write and I would live in the city. Someday.

My best friend had gone to Bates College right out of high school and she met her husband-to-be there. I got a job at W. T. Grant Company, lived at home with my parents, insisted on paying rent (they kept protesting), and saved as much as I possibly could so that I would return to Boston. Someday. That was in 1967, so I’m digressing.

It was in the summer of 1972 when Linda and David had settled just outside of Boston in Norwood, and I was on my way to New York to visit Aunt Rilla and Uncle Jerry. I stopped to see Linda and David. David was studying at Harvard School of Medicine and Linda was teaching math at a high school near where they lived.

She and I went into Boston and walked around the city. I took her to places I’d remembered from my experience there in ’66 and ’67. I so loved the city— the music of its traffic, its tall buildings, the freedom it inspired, the possibility it offered.

Linda challenged me when she said, “ …then why not move here?” “I will someday”, I said. “Why not now?” I had saved money. I could do it. I could. Mom was still working. Dad was getting older, but he was fine at the moment. His heart seemed good after several years with a pacemaker. He had made medical history in Maine when he became the first to receive a pacemaker in the early 60s at Portland’s Maine Medical Center.

This seed of possibility had been planted in my mind. The whole time I was in New York, I thought about it. Linda was very practical and she had an answer for every question I had posited that might have stood in the way of my move to Boston. I would do it!

I did do it! And after a week, with Linda’s help, I’d found an apartment. I would find a job within two weeks – and then the rest became mystery. I had no idea how all of it would unfold. I was on my own!

The exhilaration of being on my own was sheer ecstasy. And I would let nothing interfere with that feeling. The heartbreak that would later follow could never take away that first sheer, exuberant, foot-lifting joy of independence. That would remain firmly planted forever – though tucked away for a while. It has remained … and will, I know.

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