I still remember June 26, 1990. It was a Tuesday and the day’s thermometer’s mercury had just hit 122-degrees, an all-time high. Our plane was the last flight to move that day since, with the sun’s pounding heat boiling up the runway’s asphalt like lava in a volcano, the other planes were stuck and sticking, and cancelled.
Taxiing to my new apartment, I grabbed the sun-scorched door-knob and received second degree burns on my hand. Cursing this blasting desert beast, I entered a home where one broken thermostat kept the temperature at a steady 50 degrees. I wore my heaviest sweater.
It was dangerous to go outside that summer because Phoenix’ ‘valley of death’ was a potential graveyard for anyone with heart conditions. It was also dangerous to be at home where I woke up each morning feeling like ice-packed fish and ran the risk of catching pneumonia. How odd my life, I thought.
In Phoenix I hosted a midnight to 4 a.m. radio call-in show five nights a week. It was a good schedule for me since I could sleep in my ice cave during the hot morning hours, and fill the afternoons doing consulting work. You see, after studying at Scotland Yard in 1972, I became a professional astrologer – a mathematician of the sky, so to speak – and have since given classes and speeches on this honored subject nationwide, while also preparing 50 – 100 charts for private clients each month.
I lived like a hermit but my work exhausted me. The intimate questions I tackled over public radio for complete strangers, the energy I absorbed from private clients, the heat, the cold; it all became too much. Eventually the inevitable happened and I blew a fuse like a broken air conditioner in the Phoenix desert.
Have you ever felt that way? So completely burned out that you wonder where to start, then work furtively not knowing where to stop? Worn out, problems insurmountable, gaining or losing weight? Mine plummeted to 119 pounds.
One day while driving to a local store, someone stood in front of me selling t-shirts with a skeleton and big white letters that read, I SURVIVED 122-DEGREES. I wondered if I was the skeleton.
I lived, no, I survived three years in that coma-like lifestyle. Then one day, in October of 1993, I decided to explore Maine for a month.
I called the radio station, gave them a few names of other astrologers who could cover for me, and said “I’ll be back in a month.” They didn’t like that since my show had given the station it’s highest-ever ratings, but at that point I couldn’t care. Like the airport tar and my apartment’s doorknob, I was having my own personal meltdown. I felt empty, used, and all dried up. I had nothing more to give.
When I arrived in Maine and the plane’s door opened, I was, quite literally, hit by a breath of fresh air. The drive to my solitary cabin was long and lovely; the cabin’s inside rustic, the bed comfortable, and my view of Penobscot Bay spectacular. With no boiling streets, during the day I could take off my shoes and walk for miles along wet shorelines and dusty dirt paths. At night I fed a pot-belly stove for warmth and fell asleep listening to loons passionately pierce the distant calm.
One morning, while sipping coffee on a park bench, I asked a weathered old captain, “Have you lived here all your life?” He replied, “Not yet.” He understood living.
In Maine I found that the woman within me whom I had lost in Arizona was still alive, and I wanted her back. The sea was feeding my soul, and bit by bit Maine seduced me in a way no man ever had. I surrendered completely.
I spent those 30 days alone in Maine watching sunrises and sunsets, and breathing… something else I had forgotten to do in Arizona. I truly was a guest in God’s Summer House.
I returned to Maine within a year and have been here now for nearly a quarter century. During this time, I resolved issues I had with my parents, wrote a book about my Dad, learned that life is just one big classroom, and most important of all, found peace.
Stepping back and stepping simple has reminded me that life is good. Maybe it has even brought me full circle; I now wonder if it is again time for me to leave. Over these years, life along the sea has been my father and mother, the nurturer of my days, nights, and spirit.
But it’s change that awakens our survival instincts. It stimulates the brain and transitions old habits into new challenges. It rekindles the sparks of our life.
Yes… it’s time to continue my search for meaning and purpose, to fulfill the same desires I had when I moved to Maine so many years ago.
And it’s time for me to search for my soulmate. I still have the brain, desires, and passions of a thirty year old woman, only now with more wisdom and knowledge. I want to love and nest. No one ages well without their soul-mate; I just didn’t find him here in Maine…and I’m not going to settle.
I’ve come too far.
Carole Hemingway is an internationally regarded author, speaker, and historical researcher. She currently livesalong the coast of Maine where she is writing a book about Gettysburg, and waiting to publish another book about her father, Ernest.