For Good

“We’re going to miss you. You may not be aware, but you’ve been an asset to your neighbors, and the neighborhood,” a fellow former teacher, neighbor and parent to former student, Cole, told me the other day. He’s 23 now. An assistant superintendent at a local golf club. Schooled at the University of Hawaii as an agriculture major, his first job out of college and he makes $73,000 a year. Amazing, right? He’s doing well. His family’s doing well. I remember Cole’s pregnant mom jogging to the beach, then strolling him down the hill, and sitting across from her at parent-teacher conferences. Now “our” boy’s a gainfully employed man! 


But me, an asset?

What a compliment, no, the ultimate compliment! Because that’s the only thing I have ever really wanted: To leave the world, and its inhabitants, better than I found it. Or as the song from “Wicked”, “For Good”, goes:

I’m limited
Just look at me
I’m limited
And just look at you
You can do all I couldn’t do, Glinda
So now it’s up to you
For both of us
Now it’s up to you

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But
Because I knew you
I have been changed for good

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But
Because I knew you
Because I knew you
I have been changed for good

And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the things I’ve done you blame me for
But then, I guess we know there’s blame to share
And none of it seems to matter anymore

Like a comet pulled from orbit (like a ship blown from its mooring)
As it passes a sun (by a wind off the sea)
Like a stream that meets a boulder (like a seed dropped by a bird)
Halfway through the wood (in the wood)
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better
And because I knew you
Because I knew you
Because I knew you
I have been changed
For good

I love this song so much. (Katie, how much? SOOOO much) I took my grandsons, Jack and Bronson, to see their first Broadway show a few weeks ago. It was a choice between “The Lion King” or “Wicked”. Tough decision, but I decided the three of us NEEDED to see my fave musical of all times: Naturally, I was in tears throughout the entire performance. Looking at my cheering, engaged grandsons, I felt immensely blessed by this closed-circle moment. Incredible. Emotional, on par with this version:

Like Elphaba and Glinda from “Wicked”, without being totally aware or conscience of it, I seemed to have made a positive difference to my neighborhood community by simply loving this old house. Over the almost 30 years, Angel Cove Cottage by the Sea has been my heartbeat: I cut and pasted, covered up, uncovered, and cherished this little patch of a project to the best of my financial and otherwise ability. I did it for me, for my family, and all the people who drove and walked past this sweet little engine that could. Turns out, our home was a lighthouse, a beacon of love and light, a place where people could walk past and smile and feel their own creative magic stir. Ours was a place of imagination, promise, that I only now that I’m moving, am learning about. 

Truth is, I always hoped this would happen, that Angel Cove would inspire hope. But I wasn’t sure the magic of a garden, of an old farmhouse-exterior, could crack the veneer of condo’ed, Zoomed-out, Covid-ized neighbors.  But now that I’ve sold almost everything and the movers will vanish the Leaning Tower of Pisa Memories on Monday—now, now—every single day, I talk to a half dozen neighbors, some of whom I have never met before, who stop their cars, wave, and tell me, “Thank you.”

It is immensely gratifying. Because I know we saved her from the bulldozer all those decades ago—and decades to come—because we had the City declare her a historic treasure. All that work, all that love, seems to have made a difference to others, to strangers, who needed a lift, who needed to re-direct their thoughts, if just for a moment. 

These days, bear with me, I’m into lessons and the Grand Meaning of Moments aka The Patchwork Quilt of Life. So here goes Ms. Barker’s Chalkboard Life Lessons:

First, follow your gut. No matter what anyone else says, create a beautiful, unique environment that represents you, not some Netflix designer show. “Perfection” is boring. Your vision is way more interesting than some clone postcard/TV series.

Two: Don’t wait. Now, at the eleventh hour, I realize that I didn’t need a poofed-up, stain-free couch or matching dishes or Iron Chef-inspired food to invite people over. I could have always worn my 20-year-old dressing gown. Who cares? This is one of my biggest regrets is that I waited, that I set up ridiculous expectations. And now that I’m leaving, I’ve met these loving, caring neighbors who could have been my best friends, but I was “too afraid” to welcome them into my little imperfect world.

I limited my life because I felt limited. 

More lessons are sure to follow as Angel Cove becomes more echo-y. But this never-ending moving process is, apparently, just what I needed. I needed time to shed, time to grieve, time to box-up and toss and put in pile and clean and reflect.

Next week, as I wait-out the close of escrow, I have been gifted Time to walk down to the Pier, listen to music, swim in the sea, finish that Sue Monk Kidd novel I started months ago, and bathe in the solitude of gratitude and peace. 

Soon, I will no longer be a home owner. I will be a visitor. A thinker. A listener. An explorer. 

Turns out, all this the stuff littering the dining room was more than just stuff. It was clay. 

4 Comments on “For Good

  1. Oh my…I so relate! All the things we accumulate, the dust bunnies we try to eradicate, the memories we forget until we remember…. And in the midst of it, people care more than we thought they did. Somehow just showing up is more than enough. Sometimes I think I’d like a second run at being human. Maybe I would finally get it. Maybe. Thanks, Janet.


    • Thank you kindly dear writer friend. We are both on an interesting journey. All these light bulb thoughts. 💥 Hopefully, they are leading us to continued growth and peace. 🌈

      Sending you warm thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have always loved your house! I always like walking be it when I would go for a walk. May this next step in your life be just as rewarding.

    Thanks Angie! She is a very special house. I will always love her. But I know she has gifted me the opportunity to try something new. I appreciate your warm thoughts, and prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

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