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Come Full Circle - In Life and In Love

Thank you for following my Ramblin' Anne progress, dear readers. This is the first of a two-part series reflecting back on where I've been, and catching you up about where I am now. Part 2 will arrive in your inbox on Monday. Stay tuned...

Part I: The Enemy Within

Bird song floats though the window. Morning light seeps in through my lashes. Then the whir of a helicopter overhead startles me to consciousness. Eyes wide open, I gaze around. For the first time in three years, I've awakened in my own bedroom.

Exhaling, I sink back onto my pillow, day-dreaming of all I’ve been through.

My Ramblin’ Anne adventure began in June of 2021. Thirty-thousand road miles, 20 odd states, and countless rented beds later, I’m back where I started, my Mount Pleasant. DC rowhouse – safe and relatively sound – a million memories and a milestone birthday visible in the rear-view mirror.   

I have arrived, I am home, I whisper into the stillness.

I’ve spoken that nomad mantra 1000 times, though this time its meaning hits me deeply, literally and figuratively.

At age 60, I've come full circle -- in life and in love.

The Heroine's Journey and Deals with Two Devils

When I set out that fine June morning three years ago, little did I know: I about to become the heroine of my own topsy-turvy journey story.

Sure, I had a vague notion, at the beginning, of what I was after: simplicity and freedom. Just months before, I’d encountered a hawk in a holler in West Virginia – and she’d planted the seed – that her soaring freedom could be mine.

That was two years into the Coronavirus pandemic when we all felt trapped in the abyss of the unknown. I had to get out. I would soon enough find out: the abyss resides within. But at the beginning, thankfully, this truth is hidden.

House rented, worldly belongings packed in storage, I headed north. But barely weeks into my journey, residing in halcyon digs in Rhinecliff, NY, a block from the mighty Hudson River, I got yanked back home. A construction project at my now rented house – one that appeared straightforward and simple – was veering south. So was a small, simple consulting project I taken-on. I’d made deals with two devils. I’d setup my own obstacles to freedom and simplicity – because that’s what heroine journeys are all about – obstacles – and usually ones within.

Into the Vermont Void

Back on the road, after a good attempt to clean-up my messes, I went north, again, this time into the lush green mountains of Vermont. Ahh, it was dreamy – hiking, cycling, swims on the on the Mad River. Hand-picked blueberries. Creemee ice creams. But the dream didn’t last long. Out for a run on the farm road, I barely reached the covered bridge when I doubled over in stabbing, debilitating pain. I’d been running since I was 12 years old – literally, figuratively. I couldn’t know it at the time but, at age 57, that was the last run I’d ever take.

Over the next dark days and weeks, I could do little more than lie alone in my rented Vermont cabin and contemplate my impermanence. I couldn’t walk or stand or even sit without breathtaking pain. I could stare out the window toward Camelback Mountain – but I certainly could not climb it. As someone who prided herself on boundless physical abilities – whose identity was enmeshed in her physicality – runner, swimmer, skier, dancer, cyclist, triathlete, yogi – unable to move, I felt myself sinking into that same void I’d try to escape in Washington, only this one was deeper.

I had no choice but to abort my mission and, once again, return home.

Free from the Steel Cage

Back in DC, in the emergency room, the doc had bad news: my severe scoliosis had flared so badly, my only option was surgery. Rods and bolts would immobilize my entire lumbar spine thus preventing my dangerous curve from worsening with gravity and time and potentially impinging upon vital organs. Recovery time: six to 12 months.

Tears gushed from my eyes as I stared at the image of my horrid, twisted structure. Parent-less, childless, loveless, pet-less, distant from my siblings, there was no one to care for me. Happily single for years, I wore my loneliness like a badge of honor; but I'd never felt so fearfully alone. Yes, I had a family of amazing friends – though I could never impose such a burden on them.

I toiled for weeks, trapped in my basement apartment and inside my infested mind as construction on my aging, collapsing house banged on above me. I muted my sobs from the upstairs tenants and the team of workers, imagining my body entrapped in an internal steel cage.

I could not imagine never again dancing a sultry samba or flowing through a graceful vinyasa. I could not let them immobilize me. I had to set myself free.

I see, now, in hindsight, the heroine’s journey -- the quest to discover home, joy, love, and faith within -- was just about to began.

While swirling in the cesspool of my mind, some deeper, wiser part of me somehow got the gumption to apply for an artist’s residency. When the good news arrived that I was accepted – “write place, write time” was their motto – it was like a ray of autumn light shining through the portal window of my dank basement.

It was time to get back on the road. In November, against doctor’s orders, I set off. That would not be my first time rebelling against the man.

Write Place, Write Time

I headed west to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The colony was cozy and intimate – they cooked your meals and made-up your room so all you needed to do was create. I was ecstatic. Maybe writing was what this journey was about, I mused in my journals over the first glorious week and despite the pounding shooting gnawing pain in my lumbar, hips, legs.

Then I hit another snag. Of course I did. That’s what makes journey stories interesting!

One evening, after communal dinner, I got caught whispering in the quiet zone with another resident, a playwright, and was abruptly attacked. This other woman resident came inches from my face, screaming her reprimands, finger stabbing the air between us: “There is no talking at the Colony.” I gasped and reared back, heart pounding, fists clenched. But it wasn’t this fellow-woman writer I was ready to fight: it was the ghost of my violent, manic-depressive father.

I turned and hobbled back to my room, spine in flames, containing old childhood feelings of fear and rage.

I had to get out of there; the trauma energy was above me, around me, seeping inside me. But where would I go? The director resolved the quandary by kicking me out of the colony. She slid a check for a full refund across her desk toward me. “But you have to leave today, now.”

Sucking in tears, I slinked out of residence hall, hauling the burden of new shame atop old as I packed my car, convinced that all scornful eyes were on me – when that scorn was coming from me.

Oh, how I wanted to run from the pain and disdain, retreat to the supposed safety of home. But I was halfway across the country, too far to turn back. So, forward I went, winding through the wintry Ozarks.

The Universe was dragging me, kicking and screaming, on a deeper journey – a healing journey – not just of the physical body, but the emotional and spiritual aspects of self – of my past – to glimpse the secrets and lies I’d buried since a child.

While the typical male hero grapples with all manner of external enemy, the heroine must contend with foes within.

Part 2, Rivers of Love - Preview

Stay tuned, dear readers, for the exciting Part 2 of this journey tale, coming on Monday, in which our heroine…

  • Ventures into the Desert Southwest, battling foes hiding in the depths of sandstone canyons

  • Opens herself to all manner of healing, from tarot to bloodletting to a mandala of witchy women transmuting fears into dreams

  • Makes it coast to coast, then settles on an off-season island to discover community and connect with the muse

  • Heads to the Blue Ridge mountains where she swims in rivers and, on her sweet 60th, discovers love in a song, in a kiss, and within.

1 comment



Ann/Anna/Marina, we are so happy for the way your journey went. Belated happy birthday, and a resounding 'woohoo' on finding love.❤️🥳🌺

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