Moving house in December – what a silly idea, Franny thought. But if I can survive my first winter here, perhaps I will know this is home. She looked around at the nearly empty apartment, nestled on a corner in her newly adopted town. The large north-facing windows gathered in as much pale wintry light as the sun deigned to make available. Thanks to her one local friend, Franny had two camp chairs, a small dining table, a crock pot, and a loaf of very good bread. The grocery store was only three blocks away, so she’d ventured out for some basics, and could supplement the bread with inexpensive butter.
Inexpensive would be her watchword for this winter, so Franny turned the electric wall heater down and pawed through a box for a warm sweater. Being on her own meant being unsure how much anything would cost, and even more uncertain about how much money she would earn. She had several teaching assignments at the state college in town, and some freelance writing projects, enough to last about three months. After that, she would be scrambling for more work to keep the home fires burning. Strange, to be over forty (okay, well over forty) and scrambling to earn a living. That’s what you get for deciding to start your life over, Frances Emma Morehouse. You actually have to start your life over.
She folded a blanket and plopped it on the floor of her living room, in the corner where the signal from the open wireless network provided by the coffee shop across the street was strongest. Sitting on the blanket also allowed Franny the luxury of gazing out those enormous windows at her view of the downtown streets, gradually being buried by the season’s first snowfall, as sun set and the street lights came on. The corner light poles were adorned with giant electric snowflakes, the town’s way of encouraging holiday joy in the dark months of winter.
Looks as though I’m not the only one short on cash, Franny mused. Every street pole held at least one non-working bulb, creating the impression of broken snowflakes, and a town with better intentions than execution. Franny found this strangely comforting. It seemed far more likely she would eventually find a way to belong in a town of half-realized good intentions than in the large city she’d left, a city chock full of completely fulfilled ambitions that crowded the streets and parking lots with fancy SUV’s, and the housing with young people intent on making all their trendy dreams come true.
Franny turned on her laptop, tilting it toward the window to hold the coffee shop’s wireless signal, and ate a hunk of very good bread with inexpensive butter, believing that she had, in that moment, everything she could possibly need.