Soon after my seventieth birthday, at an annual checkup which was routine but also not, my doctor, a man who could be thought to lack tact, by way of complimenting me on my general state of good health informed me that I could probably be likely expect, all things being equal, ten good years; cautioning me that as I approach eighty my body will likely begin to show increasing signs of wear and tear, advising me to anticipate that by working on balance and strength; for him that meant yoga. Did I mention that I live near Woodstock, New York? I suppose this conversation might seem grim but I found it liberating. At the time I was recently bereaved after a long marriage, and was ready to start to realign my life. I don’t think of myself as single; after living with someone for forty-eight years you grow into each other, so when that other person is gone the space he occupied remains a tangible, lasting reality; at least, that’s the way it is for me.
Building on my doctor’s advice, given the reality of my big, old house, how many years might I want to remain here? how many years could I cope with the garden, do what needs to be done? All things being equal, I expect five years in which I can still function, years in which I’ll still be pretty much me. Or, to put it another way, five good springs. We lived here together nineteen years, Vivian and I; I’ve lived here by myself for three. My first two years solo were taken up with remaking the house, making it mine, getting work done in the garden, while also doing my real work: a new adaptation of A Christmas Carol was staged – it’s being repeated this year – and recently I performed a solo play I’d written, the first time I’ve acted since 2007. More importantly, at least for me, I’m working to complete my Songbook project, a revision of the play and a novelized version of the story. And the spring of 2021, the spring that’s long past, I counted as the first. Four more. And then I’ll see where I am.
Here’s where I live. My favorite place I’ve ever lived.