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" …it will certainly first feel like some terrible shrinking."

The Muse and I are preparing to leave for a few weeks. The list of preparatory tasks seems to grow as the departure time approaches. I'm at the stage of life where leaving carries little attraction. I'd just as soon stay behind while The Muse travels, and receive updates from her at the front while hanging far behind the lines. She insists, though, that I get out into the world. She says that things happen when I'm out there, and I cannot disagree. Things do happen when I leave the safe confines.

The days before departure feel like grieving.
I spent half the morning running errands intended to stabilize the status quo in our absence. Emily the Cat Sitter needs instructions. The housecleaners need to suspend service. Ditto the newspaper. Mail must get forwarded. The fresh larder needs reducing to zero before we go. Rose The Skittish Spinster Cat wants extra lap time. She always knows when we're plotting to abandon her. The same-old won't maintain itself without a disconcerting amount of preparation. Even then, some of it's just bound to fall apart in our absence.

We'll live on an edge for a few weeks, relying upon the generosity of family to bed us down. We'll live without a kitchen of our own and without the library, though we plan to take the Zoom Car along for the ride. I had the tires checked this morning. The engine gets okayed the day after tomorrow. I'm plotting what to take and what to leave behind, understanding that an innocent oversight could leave me semi-stranded beyond my accustomed resources. I feel astounded at all I do not have to think about when I'm ensconced in the home place. I might warmly anticipate all the adaptations I'll be called upon to make in the upcoming weeks, but I'll leave that exercise to run through my mind on the thousand mile drive getting there. Until we leave, I'll grieve.

My morning's errands reminded me of just how well I've adapted to this recently alien place. I know just where to go to get almost everything I need. In my absence, I'll be back to poking sticks in the dark hoping I won't put anyone's eye out when looking for stuff. I complain plenty about all I cannot get here, but perhaps complain more when faced with distancing myself from this place. The neighbor said he'd keep an eye out. Most of my neighbors won't notice my absence. In this season, lawn doesn't want mowing. Snow won't need shoveling if nobody's coming and going. We'll leave lights on, but they'll be the same lights day and night. Emily The Cat Sitter will water plants and take out the garbage. To the casual observer, we'll still seem as here as ever.

Each leaving seems like a small death, a move to another plane of existence. I'll notice the shift more than anyone else might, and I'll anticipate my absence, more properly my territory's absence. I'll follow the local news for the first week or so, duly reporting to The Muse when the snow falls or the winds pick up. We'll spend the absent time closer to family, people we'd rather be near, but still deeply feel our absence here. Actually, we'll feel our absence from there. We'll each still be just as close to ourselves as we've ever been. We will not be leaving our selves behind. Still, the leaving will feel as though we'd shed our skin and we will feel the tender under flesh toughening in the thicker air.

One cannot stay in one place, no matter how I might aspire to stay behind. I'll leave plenty for later when I go. About a hundred miles down the road, I'll remember something I until then imagined I could not possibly live without. Then, my primary occupation will become learning how to live without exactly that for the time being. I will swallow hard at first acknowledgement and breathe easier as time proceeds. I will learn how to live without that whatever I could not previously imagine living without. I suppose this will amount to growing, though it will certainly first feel like some terrible shrinking.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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