I had some time to kill the other day, so i drove past three of my old houses…which isn’t saying much since i have only lived about 5 places, in Massachusetts and 1 in Virginia. The one in Andover I can’t recognize but to be fair, it doesn’t look at all like it did in 1965, the one we lived in with my aunt in 66 changed hands a couple of years ago, and so far all they did was change the curtains, that was one of those 10 room houses, with secret closets and spooky attics, great place but its in south Lawrence, not someplace you buy a house on purpose anymore, though house #3 is also in South Lawrence but in a section that seems to be an island unto itself, it still looks pretty much like it did in 1967-1976, though all the then vacant lots and farm land have now been peopled with houses. No offense but at this point in history, a magnificent house in Lawrence is stil in Lawrence. If i had to judge I’d say that Methuen is suffering guilt by association, even the parts that don’t abut Lawrene aren’t doing too well either. Not the houses are any different than they were, or even that the people are any different; but the mood or pallor is measurable. More graffiti, more trash, a little louder than appropriate. People who paid 300K for their house are now paying off mortgages for houses that can now sell for half that. Still paying their taxes for fewer services. Watching their elected officials behaving badly in the news. I could go on, and I do, places where i can’t get tracked and sued. But lets say these aren’t towns you buy into, these are towns you get OUT OF, if you have in anyway, working brain cells or can do a crossword puzzle in ink. Nearly everyone I know of any interest at all, is from someplace else.
I have been thinking a lot about the places that we live, or I live actually and WHY we live there. Perhaps I am having third and fourth thoughts about choosing Greenfield, I dunno. I have had to explain my choice to a number of people lately…last night one of my friends asked me…”did you really stick a pin in a map?” and I essentially said yes. I only casually know a couple of people in the Pioneer Valley, I have no ties to it, really…but I can say that about the rest of the country. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a bookseller that I have met online or in person…and believe me I have the cats to do it with. So basically if all places are equal…then what does it matter? I have been emailing back and forth with Steve Finer of Greenfield and he couldn’t understand why I chose the place either, though he like other sellers in that area, admittedly enjoy the place themselves. It was another of those ‘well people are the same all over’ conversations with the added value that the economy there isn’t all that much better than it is where I already am. Dude, I am NOT looking for the town itself to be my Mecca, it’s not Fantasy island to me, i am not looking for a place to solve my ills. I am basically LOOKING for an even SWAP, for a place that I don’t actively HATE. [i already told you Methuen is like a BAD boy friend that I am trying to unload and what’s the reaction to that feeling? you do a 180 from a caring relationship to one where you want to throw gasoline and a torch on it.]
I will concede that perhaps I didn’t spend as much time considering the rest of the world at large. But I liked what I did see, and it had all the things that i liked about where I already am, without the things that I loathe. So what if its not perfect, no place is. And I am not naive enough…well i’m not naive at all really, to think that it’s the most perfect place for me. But it HAS to be better than here.
Franklin County Fair starts Thursday and runs through Sunday, I made a deal to swap cars with a friend of mine on Friday, so i can drive to Greenfield for the 1st time. My agenda thus far is to drive around all the neighborhoods I have been looking at on Google Street View to get a feel for the houses and the areas. Then I want to visit the high spots, Wilsons Department Store, Fosters Grocery Store, the library, perhaps the city hall, and have lunch at Hope and Olive… then I will hit the County Fair because at 5ish they have PIG RACING. That’s the goal. If it doesn’t work out that’s fine, I can always go later.
I am too keyed up about this entire thing, I rarely get excited about much of anything, i can’t take the DOWN slope of the disappointment. You can tell I am on the downslope now… too maudlin, too dour, i keep projecting that once i BUY the house and the truck and inject cash into my businesses and buy a few pieces of grownup cat scratch free furniture. That i will most likely be broke again and suicidal just all in a different place. Who knows? I’m fine with that. Like I said, i can be broke anywhere, i’d rather MAKE the change than stay here sharpening my pitchforks.