Choosing Home, Gloucester, Massachusetts by Laurel Tarantino

A new entry from Loving and Leaving the Fort

January 15, 2015

Wow, January 2015! Where does time go? One moment you’re 17, carefree, playing in the surf at Good Harbor Beach, all sunshine and waves. The next thing you know, the cold Winter winds have awakened you and you realize you’re 50 something, wondering… “Have I packed enough life in those years?” I like to think I have, with lots more to come. Good and bad, easy and hard, so long as they balance out, better yet, with the good and easy outweighing the junk stuff.

Last I wrote, I was in the White Mountains, it was the 80s. I was in my 20s. Then, WHAM, I got my heart broken, or rather, I allowed it to break. I tried sticking around the Whites, I got myself a gorgeous place overlooking the Saco River and Cathedral Ledge. As wonderful as it was, with dear friends helping me to carry on, it just wasn’t going to happen for me. I needed and wanted out. I didn’t want what had been a place filled with wonderful memories to turn into bitterness.

What next? I called my brother down in Bay View, tears in my voice… “I want to come home.” His reply, “Come on then.” So there I was, thirty years old, never married, no home, no kids, running back to Gloucester to live with my brother, his wife and their three kids. “What a loser!” Well, that’s what I thought at the time. I was fortunate to have someone to let me in and it turned out to be a great place to re-start and get on with my next decade.

I had little ones to buy Christmas gifts for… (holidays are always tough when you feel alone). I had my own room with a separate entrance, a place at the table to eat dinner in the company of family. When my heart started aching and tears welled up, my brother would grab his oars, say “Come on,” and we’d jump in his dory tied to a haul back in Lobster Cove, and row out into Ipswich Bay. Sometimes we wouldn’t stop til we hit Hodgkin’s Cove. It was exhilarating, the healing had begun.

Loving and Leaving the Fort

Heading out into Ipswich Bay

I met a friend at one of the two jobs I was working. We hit it off right from the start. We were soon jet-setting all around in my faithful old Volvo. We were pretty fancy, us two; dinner in Marblehead, the next weekend Newburyport, off to the ski slopes in Maine. We could go where ever we wanted, do what ever we dreamed up, so long as we made it to work on Monday. Fun, fun times, but I needed to move on from play dates with my friend and living with my brother, after all, I was supposedly an adult now.

Loving and Leaving the FortEnter, Stage Left: In walks more good Karma. I’m having lunch over in East Gloucester with my mom, when I see and old friend across the room… Crushing bear hugs, “Haven’t seen you in years.” “What are you up to?” All led to me renting an amazing place on Goose Cove. Talk about being at the right place at the right time!

Goose Cove, back to my roots, where I used to catch baby eels off the dock, cupped gently in my bare hands. Here I was, 20 years later, hanging out on the rocks in my backyard, watching Snowy Egrets, Blue Herons, Green Herons and ducks while having my morning coffee. If the tide was up, an occasional pair of Swans would paddle over, looking for a treat. Such a magical place.

So, life was getting rosier all the time. Oh I still had my “Woe is me,” moments, missing friends, a cool job and my dog that I left behind in the mountains. Leaving my dog behind was the worst of it, but the best thing for her. I could never explain that I was letting her keep her fields and forests, in exchange for not having to live on a leash and as a shut in while I went to work. As she adjusted to life without me, I’d begun to settle into my old stomping grounds.

Sunrise, blue herons, coffee. Goose Cove

It’s hard picking up pieces of yourself and starting over again, but I was doing a great job of it. It helped that I was in familiar surroundings. Funny, how you miss the simple things. I used to worry that I wouldn’t have anyone to wave to on my way to work. Little by little, that came back too. It may not have been my friend Donnie in his Camino, driving down a road in Bartlett, but I’d see Fred in his pick-up truck on the stone bridge in Annisquam. Little by little, I’d bump into folks that I hadn’t seen in ten years. Oh, we wouldn’t begin again where we left off, friends can become acquaintances after a good amount of time. They’ve married their high school sweetheart, moved into a house of their own, had kids… it wasn’t like I could knock on a neighbors door and ask if Mindy could come out and play. Remember, I’m an adult at this point.

What I figured out was that Gloucester had its own way of welcoming me back. If I embraced and appreciated all she had to offer, she took me back, with open arms.

Swans stopping by for a treat. Goose Cove