“Come live with me and be my love.” That’s what my husband said when he proposed. What he didn’t say was: “Come leave your home of 17 years and move to more than a dozen places before we celebrate our 20th anniversary.”
I admit I love to travel. I also love coming home. My spouse believes in not just visiting, but immersing oneself in diverse locales to keep brain connections clicking: learn the land, the lore, the language. Stay vibrant. In our early years as a couple, my children from my first marriage were in school in Southern California, so we remained there. But when my younger daughter left for college on the East Coast, the odyssey began. At first I looked forward to moving from Santa Monica. It had exploded from the lazy beach town I knew in 1970 into, for me, a too-trendy mini-metropolis. I’m an avid skier, so I was eager to move to Park City, Utah. But not long after, circumstances took us to Florida—where I’ve never had an un-bad hair day—and then we moved again…and again…and again.
I balked at each upheaval. Our jobs permitted us to work from home (wherever that was) but did we have to keep changing our address just because we could? I grew tired of telling friends and family I was okay with yet another adventure, and that my spouse and I had neither joined the military nor were in the Witness Protection Program. I wearied of my husband saying, “Think how young this is keeping us! We’re like 20-year-olds, moving all the time!” (This is not necessarily a bad thing, since I’m almost nine years older than he. At 62, I want him to think of me as frisky and open to new experiences; I just don’t want it to kill me in the process.)
At one point, we bought a log cabin on 11 acres, an hour south of the Canadian border. To say the house was unfinished is like saying the Titanic had a leak. Designed on what appeared to be blueprints for a Spanish galleon, this marvel had only sub-flooring, no bannisters, and permanently bolted French doors on the second floor, a consequence of the deck-that-never-was. For all it lacked, it offered something unique: a bat colony.
Last week we moved to Portugal. As I write this, I sit in a stone cottage on a farm north of Oporto, grateful for a working Internet. The owners, our landlords, are of Portuguese nobility. They are warm and gracious, and endeavor to make us feel at home. I’ve found out where to buy organic groceries, where to get the laundry done, and discovered a hair salon where someone miraculously changes the color gray into chestnut. In other words, I’m beginning to feel settled. Each morning as my husband and I sip coffee on the patio, a goat herd files into the pasture we overlook. They trot, leap, and butt each other in caprine exuberance. In the evening we enjoy softened ripe cheeses, and taste Herdade dos Muachos, an inexpensive but mellow vinho tinto from the region of Alentejo.
Now, if I can only hide his passport.