I am in Providence, RI, staying at a moderately fancy downtown hotel. It has free wifi, but no valet parking. The room is big and bright, and the sun is coming in, but it feels off, somehow.
I've been away from home for a week now, and I long for my cluttered little writing space. I want to sit at my window and look out at my yard and the neighbor's field and the foot prints of various creatures that are familiar to me. I want to see the sun come up over the line of trees at the edge of the field, and know that beyond those woods lies Atlantic Ocean that stretches for thousands of miles.
Here, the sun came up somewhere over behind me to my left, behind a building more than 20 stories tall. The only things that tall in Maine are our mountains.
It's true. The tallest building I know of is an apartment tower in Portland, and I don't think it's more than 10 or 12 stories. Bangor has nothing that tall. I suppose there are some smokestacks at paper mills that might be a couple hundred feet tall, but that's about it.
I long for my woods and quiet roads that have two lanes - one for cars going in each direction. Without a divider of some kind in the middle. I long for dirt roads and rutted driveways and country people. I want potlucks and funny stories and shared hardships - and shared solutions - that make rural living what it is.
In my week in Portland, I had a good time. I got to see a lot of people whom I have not seen in a while, and visiting with old friends is always fun. I got to eat at that great Thai noodle place, and that was fun too. It almost felt like I could move back there. The seminary I plan to apply to has a campus in Portland. I could do that, I suppose.
But a week there, followed by a weekend in Providence is enough to convince me that I need to not be in a city, even a small one like Portland, for a while. I need the quiet of a rural setting to get my head and thoughts in order. Perhaps someday when I am all spiritually evolved and can create my own peace out of air, I can live in a city, but for now I need the quiet of the country.
I've got appointments today and things to do and people to see, and I expect I will have a good time as I do it all. But I will be glad to hit the road in the morning and head north.
I will stop in Dedham, Mass. to visit an old college chum who is the minister of a small UU congregation there. I plan to attend the weekly worship service and then have coffee and chat with her afterwards. She went to the same seminary I plan to apply to. I want to hear what her heart has to say about the experience.
The sun is up fully now. The day is begun. I see people and vehicles rushing about in the street below. I miss my cat and my little dog. I miss my home. This is a fun weekend, but I think if I come next year, I will not spend a week away from home first. It is too much for me.