On the day I was meant to start my new life, I woke up with a headache to beat the band. The stage was all set: my new business, Rosehurst Stratford Bed and Breakfast was waiting; my friends had said their goodbyes and made their promises to come and see me; the post divorce funds were divided; my grown daughter was keen to see her mom start afresh and I was nothing but excited until the universe called Bullsh*t.
For every excited cell in my body, there was a tense and terrified one. I had done all of the analysis in my brain but my social self was as tense as a taut rubber band and my brain was exploding from the painful truth. Sadly, I had packed all my migraine pills and, when my closest friend, Mary, showed up with tea in a travel mug, I lamented. Her solution to check my purse was inspired. She knew I always had a pouch of random headache, stomach ache, period ache solutions and, sure enough, there was a wee blue Naproxen in there to save the day.
Halfway through my tea, while waiting for the movers and trying not to cry, I started to feel less and less well, less and less alert. Mary began to worry as the movers were doing their “once over” and I was lying on the sofa with my forearm over my eyes in my best Scarlett O’Hara pose.
“It’s going to be OK, Theresa; you still have us and everything you have built here. This courageous adventure is exactly what you have wanted to do since I met you 21 years ago when we had babies stuck to our boobs. It’s natural that you would feel some stress; I will call in sick to stay with you…,” said my dear friend who has been no more than two blocks away for two decades.
But I knew everything was going to change. There was no replacing this kind of intimacy. And I couldn’t figure out why my brain could not rub two thoughts together. Was this anxiety? Was this what people feel when they are having a nervous breakdown?
Wait a minute…what the hell did I take? My headache was still pounding and I felt so sluggish! Asking Mary for my purse pouch from my prone pose on the sofa revealed all. The month before, a kind friend had offered me a little blue sleeping pill for an overnight flight and it sat in my “solutions pouch” for months only to trick me on the most important day since my daughter was born. I had drugged myself. As the movers stepped over me and removed piece by piece of my life, I dozed in and out of consciousness to try and embrace the future.
If I could have predicted how fabulously okay I would feel within months, I may not have pulled a stunt that is now known as my “Freudian Move Maneuver”. Within weeks of the move I received an email with the subject line “You don’t know me but…” from the friend of a friend who had also sold off her Toronto life and bought Ariel’s Bed and Breakfast mere blocks away. Shawna proposed that we forge our #StratfordBFF alliance and the rest tumbled from there.
Many have commented that making this life change took a lot of courage but I don’t see it that way. My personal life had shifted over time, media work was morphing and my need for a bricks and mortar business life had me out on the plank. There was no going back now, as the ship had quite literally disappeared.
Taking one tenuous step at a time along the plank until the ocean came into focus was my only move. Courage actually takes the form of vision when one is in that position. Rather than sleepwalking through the process and letting it overtake me, I, with the exception of moving day, kept my eyes alert and my heart open for what was to come.
A mere year later, I am surrounded by new friends who are also good at thrusting out their hands, introducing themselves and seeking connection. Stratford is truly the town of gatherings and festivals and living here has only enhanced a gratifying social life. I have new colleagues who think of me for winter work such as teaching at the Stratford Chef School. I have a home that I love in a very pretty, arty, engaging walkable town and I am only a couple of hours away from a number of old friends guest beds in Toronto.
What I have learned on this journey is that the ties that bind are quite elastic if you allow them to stretch to include the new.
Theresa Albert is the owner of Rosehurst Stratford, a garden to table bed-and-breakfast in Stratford Ontario where she also teaches at the Stratford Chef School and continues her Toronto media life.