Port Henry, Trip 3

I feel overwhelmed about where to begin. How do I tell you about Port Henry Trip 3 without explaining how I ended up here, on Lizzie's porch, on Friday afternoon? And all the strange clues that seem to pull me toward finding out more about her as I build my own life?

How do I prove to you that I'm not crazy, when everything I'm about to tell you will surely make you question my sanity?

Overall, if I speak my truth, I feel like I risk losing so much, but mainly I fear losing the respect and love of my support team -- my dearest friends and family. So many have turned away from me, because they question my choices, or they assume that I've chosen things that I haven't, as I fumble along still in a fog of self-exploration. How do I let go of resentment when, so many times, I walked beside them on their own path, and listened without judgement?

Every time I write, I tell half stories, or I find the heart of the story I want to tell and build a body of text around it. But how do I do that with a story that's chaos, whose threads lead to places I can't even yet see or comprehend?

And how do I convince you to trust me, to take my hand on this journey, when I am still wandering?

All I can ask is that you wander with me. I'll lead you through what I know, and then I'll have to leave you wandering and wondering if it's all just chaos and coincidence, or something more.

I asked Grandma Lizzie Pearl to guide me on this trip, to give me signs that would inspire me, enlighten me, and protect me.

The Science of Seeing Signs

If you want to understand the purpose of life, you have to start at the core of why we exist as human beings. All we know for sure is that our bodies were designed for survival and that we as humans survive and thrive when surrounded by positive and encouraging energy. In this way, love, support, and protection are key components to the purpose of life.

Our DNA remembers trauma and love from previous generations. It holds memories, because human beings were also designed for generational survival. It learns that certain situations or certain types of people are bad, or good.

Our subconscious can more easily connect with those memories than our conscious mind can. It can also connect us to each other. In that way, part of the purpose of the subconscious is to protect us as a family unit, a tribe, a community. And, so we're also designed for tribal survival.

I believe that's why trauma gets passed down from generation to generation, to grow and protect our families. And that's why cultures of people or animals, living in separate areas, will develop in similar ways or discover new ideas at the same time, to grow and protect our communities.

So, if we were designed to share information subconsciously with each other and through DNA with our ancestors, could it also be possible that we can communicate with the energy of those who have passed away?

Maybe. Maybe we're only connecting with them through "DNA memories." Maybe we're only connecting with them through the subconscious memories of the living.

Whatever the explanation, I know that the signs and visions are "real." I know that my life is both plagued and blessed by inexplicable happenings, and I know that when I explore them, everyday magic happens.

I connect with Grandma Pearl through five symbols: dandelions, robins, pearls, monarch butterflies, and the number 119.

I can't say for certain that some form of divine intervention puts these signs in my path. More often, it feels like my subconscious mind calls my conscious attention to them in situations when they'd normally be out of place, and applies meaning.

And, truly, that doesn't make it any less magical.

In college, I began to notice the number 119 being a common number in my life. It almost always drew my attention to something about Grandma Lizzie Pearl. On my way to find her grave for the first time, this past December, this car led the way:


And robins visited, and there was a monarch butterfly sticker someone had dropped in the parking lot. And, that entire week, Ellie brought me bouquets of dandelions.

It felt like she knew that I was looking for her.

A and Friends

With the help of a counselor, A and I opened up communication again. I know some of you are wondering why. We argue a lot.

The dreamy answer: When we're together, weird things happen that make me think that we're supposed to be together, on some level. It's not just shooting stars and four-leaf clovers. Those signs just serve as validation for what I know in my heart. We speak the same language. We notice the same things. We like talking about abstract concepts and spirituality. It's like he can walk inside my mind, take pictures of what I'm thinking, and string together a beautiful collage with the images.

The logical answer: I like being with him, and I'm finding it hard to let go of that, even when we argue, as I work my way through the separation with M.

So, though I've kept my distance in the past, I gave him my weekend.

Friday would be his birthday and exactly one year since we had met by chance at the DMV, where we found out that we were both from the same small town in Upstate New York, crossing paths in Montpelier, Vermont.

He said that all he wanted for his birthday was time with me, and so he sold me on the idea of him coming with me to New York. He always does. He should sell used cars. The promise is always the same: adventure, sunsets, beaches, laughter, deep conversation, and help with my Lizzie research. It's an offer I can never refuse.

A is what pagans would call a "hedgewalker." It's an ancient term that means a person who can walk between the worlds of the dead and the living and gather information. I see it more as walking between the subconscious and conscious minds. He's highly intuitive and can sense shifts in energy. He also has a knack for finding good people from all different walks of life, and animals are drawn to him.

When he seems detached, like he's literally walking through some other place in his mind, that's when the most wisdom comes out--beautiful, positive, supportive wisdom.

It's like when my father's mother, Grandma Faith, who has Alzheimer's, suddenly grabs my arm, and I watch her eyes lose focus, pupils dilate, and she starts talking to me about A, who I've never told her about. She says, "You have a new friend. Life is so short. Choose adventure."

And I go to that place with her, and I see my future fall into place so beautifully before my eyes: a brook, forest, tiny house, me and E... and endless adventure and exploring. Campfires and swimming, reading books in a warm bed with a cool breeze from the nearby window.

Then Grandma refocuses on my face, looks confused, and asks me to remind her of who I am.

And I do, and we smile at each other, meeting again but for the first time. She holds onto the love and laughs about missing memories. But I can't let go of the feeling that she, too, is a hedgewalker.

And everyone who A introduces me to has this quality, too. Their lives are crafted from a rich history, adventure, battles, good stories, family, and laughter. And they can talk in abstract concepts and explore spiritual conversation.

They are good people.

The Cemetery

A says that I'm too impatient, that I need to slow down, focus. The purpose of the Port Henry trip was to stop at Grandma Lizzie's house, to knock on the door. I was nervous. He said, "If you find that you don't know what to say, I'll speak for you. If there's anyone scary there, I'll take care of that too." I relaxed a bit but still wanted to rush there and get it over with.

To get to Lizzie's house, you have to drive up Witherbee Road, past the cemetery where she's buried, and turn West onto Wasson Street.

A pulled into the cemetery, though I hadn't planned to stop. He said that we needed to visit her first, before going to her house. The plastic flower that I left her in December was gone. I had nothing to leave her. I kissed my hand and touched her foot stone and silently talked to her for a bit while A cleared off other foot stones nearby that had become overgrown. Then he said, "Look around you, we'll find something for her." I started walking and focused on the task at hand. I slowed my breathing. I found a pretty, heart-shaped rock. A took my hand and led me to an apple tree. We picked blossoms for Pearl's and Michael's graves.

It was everything I needed.


When I got home, I realized the heart-shaped rock was still in my pocket. It felt like, in forgetting about it, it became a gift from her.

Ace of Cups

The last time A and I argued, he gave me a wine glass from his friend who has a small glassblowing studio. I called it the Ace of Cups. In Tarot, the Ace of Cups symbolizes a new relationship (friendship or romantic), a peace offering, an opening of the heart.

Even through the ups and downs of our friendship, I've kept it on my altar to symbolize forgiveness and love, hope.

This weekend, A brought me to meet that friend, J, and see his studio. A handed me a kitten; a new litter had been born. I tucked him in my shirt and rocked him to sleep. We got to try working with the glass and making a bead. I used clear glass, and A used blue.


We used heat to meld the two together into a jumbled hunk of blue and clear. Odd shapes came into focus as the glass, feeling like the consistency of bubble gum, was stretched and folded. A rose (love) emerged and a dog (friend), a clover (luck), a teardrop (sadness).

Then J stepped in, grabbed a tool to squeeze the glass, and twisted it into a beautiful swirl. And the symbolism hit me hard: if we're always moving forward and aligning ourselves with love, then the universe (or creator if you believe in one), can use that love to weave something magical--even if you're stumbling awkwardly through life, and trying to find your way.


A put it on a cord for me, so I could wear it and remember the life that I'm creating for myself and my daughter--one without boundaries or fences, where adventure awaits with good people, where sadness is just a part of the journey that we can blend into something beautiful and meaningful. All these things are carried in the Ace of Cups.

image: Ace of Cups; Tarot Mucha deck

image: Ace of Cups; Tarot Mucha deck

The House

We did make it to Grandma Lizzie's house (post pic). The people who lived there the last time I drove by appear to have moved out. I'm not sure if the house is for sale, but it looks emptier from the outside. No one answered the door, but I could see inside. It looked like many things from the 1930s were kept, including the front door.

I was getting ready to leave when A suggested I leave a note. So, I did:


And now, I wait to see if I get a response.

The Rivers

The rest of the weekend was spent visiting family, eating ice cream, and sitting alongside rivers. I'm more at peace with my life than I've been in a long time.

sitting on the shore of the Boquet River

sitting on the shore of the Boquet River

We sat by the water and talked about where our lives would take us. We got on the topic of twins, Geminis, and twin symbolism. A's father is a twin, and he feels the theme of twins plays out in his life in different ways: the theme of opposites, good and bad, ups and downs, yin and yang, the power of two, warrior and healer. The conversation flowed easily.

Then, A looked behind me, and he seemed surprised. He told me to turn around slowly. I turned to find two matching fawns had come down to the river for a drink. They saw us but didn't seem to mind. We talked, they drank, and we studied each other.

Just maybe it was a sign that the universe recognized our conversation, validated its importance.

I can't say that I'm making all the best choices or living my best life based on what other people want for me, but I have sun on my face, dirt under my nails, and I'm moving toward love and protection in every aspect of my life. Most importantly, I'm loving myself fiercely. I'm working harder than I ever have, because I see the life I'm meant to live, and I'm running toward it.

The Hospital

We stopped at the hospital to visit Grandma Faith again. She was finishing her dinner, sitting at a table with other patients who have dementia. The conversation is always interesting. One woman talked about how she is "both," a mix of fighter and grace. Over and over again, she said, "I am Waterford, and I am Thatcher." It took me a minute to realize that she was talking about the last names of her father and mother. It reminded me of the twin, or duality, theme. But instead of my parents' names, Pearl and Michael came to mind, as I write their story. He was the protector and soldier; she was the nurturer. And, therefore I am both too. "I am Kelly, and I am Gauthier," I thought.

A can't save me, but he is teaching me how to fight for myself, how to bring out the protector and warrior in me. And I can't save him, but I am trying to show him how to love himself and find purpose in his life.

Grandma told him to be kind to me. She knew.

We got lost in the hospital when we tried to leave. Each hallway led to an octagonal room with only doors to patient rooms, to prevent patients from getting out. I'm not usually claustrophobic, but I could feel my chest tighten as my anxiety was triggered by walking long hallways only to find there was no exit at the end.

Down one hallway, there was an open closet door with a glowing blue light. I was curious, so I stepped inside. Someone had made a donation of statues to the hospital, and they were on display in this blue closet--Mother Mary praying with children. A had stepped in behind me. I turned around to face him. "Well, this is odd," I said. We laughed at the weirdness of getting lost, walking into a closet, and finding Mother Mary in there with some kids, praying. The energy was different in there. I looked into A's eyes. As I did, a loud buzzing started over his head. It was so loud, I cringed. We looked up to see an old metal power box above the doorway to the closet. It had the word "POWERS" on it. It was buzzing louder and louder, and a needle dial indicator on it started bouncing up to "10" over our heads. "OK, that's enough weirdness for me today, thanks," I joked.


I wondered at first if it was part of the exhibit, some steampunk-themed demonstration of divine powers of prayer? But, really, it's just an antique electrical box, I think. Maybe it detects surges? Regardless, the experience had lovely overtones of divinity and paranormal activity, so it stood out to me on this trip.

A led me out of the room, and we returned to wandering the halls. Finally, an old man stepped out of his room in front of me and asked if he could help. We were the only ones standing in the hallway. I told him that I couldn't find the exit. He looked disoriented as he pushed strands of thin hair out of his face. I immediately regretted asking him, because it seemed to make him confused, and he wanted to help. He lifted his other hand and pointed a bony finger back the way we came. He cleared his throat and said, "Follow the diamonds."

I assumed he was talking gibberish, but I thanked him and started back down the hallway we had just walked down. After about 50 feet or so, the hall separates into two different hallways. Only one of them looked like this, and it led to the exit:


I couldn't have crafted a better metaphor for what it feels like to follow Grandma Pearl's signs for me. When I see an out of place butterfly, robin, pearl, two deer, or a "119," I feel safe and protected. It seems like nonsense sometimes, but then I find meaning in it and love and hope. I feel called. I feel led.

I have absolutely no idea where I'm headed or why. I just see glimpses of the life I'm building, and I have faith that I'm on the right path.

A = the guy I was seeing
E = my 7-year-old daughter
M = my ex-husband

Gretchen PearlComment