My Life Off the Post Road

My time here is limited. Not here on earth. Not in some dire sense. In Westport. In Connecticut. In this country.

As the summer winds down, I’ll be gearing up for a move across the pond. To Stratford-Upon-Avon in England, to pursue a Master’s degree in Shakespeare Studies at the Shakespeare Institute. Under the auspices of the University of Birmingham and in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

I’m a Shakespeare geek, so Stratford is mecca for me, and this endeavor is the realization of a dream.

But it’s not without its downside. I’ll leave a place I’ve called home for 20 years, where my family and friends live, and where I’ve become involved in some engaging and enriching pursuits.

I’ll give up my apartment, sell my car, and donate much of my furniture. I’ll store the rest and take two rolling purple suitcases for a full year in a new country where I know no one and don’t yet have a place to live.

I’ve applied for the same Tier 4 Student Visa that I got for my son when he studied abroad. I’ve submitted to biometric testing, therefore reserved a patched-together network of B&Bs (it’s busy in Stratford in the summer) and booked a flight. I’ve selected classes (gulp) and “met” a few classmates on Facebook. Each item I check off the To Do list transforms this from fantasy to reality.

The rumble in my tummy gets louder with each day that I cross off the calendar leading up to departure. Walking at Compo today, I swore the other beachgoers could hear the roiling in my gut. The eddy of concerns swirled, thick and bubbly, like the muck in the LaBrea Tar Pits. “WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU THINKING?!?” my stomach shouted at me. A coterie of doubt, worry, and anxiety vied for my attention.

I literally stopped in my barefoot sandy tracks. “BE QUIET!!!” I shouted silently. I told the cacophony to cease and desist, and reminded myself, “This is way cool. The proverbial opportunity of a lifetime. An incredible adventure. You love Shakespeare. OK, you’re obsessed with him.” To paraphrase Molly Bloom, Yes, yes, and yes.

And here’s the reality: the fear of the unknown and of failing as a later-in-life student in a rigorous academic program is palatable and loud. But it also motivates and stimulates me. The raucous roiling may be different from, but is no worse than, the steady simmering frustration with a too comfortable routine that doesn't challenge me.

So, as of the beginning of September, and with the gracious permission and blessing of my supportive and enthusiastic editor Sally Allen, we’re taking the show on the road. Or, off the road. Off the Post Road.

Photo by Diane Lowman