Open

(Last Friday night was “Open Mic” night at the downtown Opera House here in Boothbay Harbor. I wrote this up to share but the event was cancelled due to an ice storm.Who knows? Perhaps next month I’ll try sharing it again.)

It took me nine months and 19,586 miles to get here.  

No, I didn’t take the short route.

Instead, nine months ago I threw my bike, tent, sleeping bag, bag of clothes, a box of post-it notes, a couple of books and my journal in the back of my Honda Fit and took off from Seattle and what had been home for the past 25 years.

Sometimes life empties you down to just what you can fit in the back of a Honda Fit.  

And sometimes opens you up as broad as a country as I drove East through mountain passes and out through a wide horizon and an endless sky. On through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. On through Ohio and upstate New York, back west and up to Wisconsin, and down through Illinois, Missouri and Kansas, south to Arkansas and across the Mississippi Delta to Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Up through the mountains of Tennessee and hills of Kentucky into the Midwest, the mid-Atlantic, and north to New England. Its been an amazing adventure.  

Along the way, so curious, so curiously open, to new connections, new people, new discoveries. Trying on new work, doing new things, being in a different way.  

A week ago I arrived here in Boothbay Harbor, Maine where I’ll make my home for a little while. I pulled off the road, got out of my car and turned with my car keys in hand and pushed the lock button. 

“No one does that here,” a voice said behind me.  

No one does that here?  Lock their car? Something I’ve done every day, many times a day without ever thinking about it? 

No one does that here?

I’m reminded of moving to Seattle and learning that no one flicks their umbrella down and pops it open in a drizzle for hardly anyone walks around with an umbrella in Seattle. Instead, I too would discover how to embrace the rain and walk around open to the drizzle and pretend that I wasn’t getting wet.

In this past week, I’ve been trying to find my way in this place that’s so different from any place I’ve ever lived. So far from Seattle, from urban America where I’ve lived most of my life.

I’ve been reminded numerous times that the ocean is on the other side but it seems to me like its on every side. Water at every turn, bend, fork in the road.  

I’m still getting used to the different scale of life in a small town. Like I’ve been used to doing, I keep taking off 15 minutes ahead of time to make it across town for an appointment only to keep arriving 10 minutes early. (I’ve heard that changes in the summer.)

Last Friday night I arrived at the movie theatre in town 15 minutes ahead of time because that’s what I’ve always done. Besides, it was opening night and an Academy Award nominated movie. I was sure the theatre would be packed and I wanted to get a good seat. There were lots of good seats for the seven of us who were there. 

On Tuesday I turned on the TV at 6pm to watch the State of the Union because that’s when the State of the Union always starts. I was relieved when I couldn’t find it on any channel and figured that it must have been cancelled.  

I’ve invited several people for coffee only to wonder afterwards, where would we go to find coffee? In Seattle, the next cup is a mere half bock away.

I got out of bed early yesterday morning scanning the horizon for the low flying plane only to look out and see it was not a plane but a boat passing outside my window.  

I was shocked to meet someone the other day who commented that they went to Whole Foods for the first time. In Seattle, the question is not the first time but how many times do you go to a high end grocery store?

Am I settling in? Am I unsettled? A little of both.  

And yes, I’m learning. The other day I learned that the snow that would have shut down Seattle for a week I can navigate quite nicely through in my Fit. 

And I was delighted to see a “Seahawks” sign outside the High School. I thought I was in Patriot’s territory. Maybe I’m not so far from home.  

Yes, even though Open Mic was cancelled due to freezing rain, I learned I can make is safely home in it as well.  

I guess I’m open. Open to discovery.  

Like being here talking with you tonight. For while I’ve spent my career speaking at microphones I’ve never spoken at an Open Mic.

“How you get there is how you’ll arrive”, the Maine poet Philip Booth wrote.  

I guess I’ve arrived, Open. 

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