Moving To Guilford


I’d like you to be the first to know that I’m going to move my family to Guilford, Connecticut, preferable to a house that’s right on the Green, and across the street from the Guilford Free Library, which is where I am at this exact moment.

The only trouble is that I can’t actually move, having a job I like in San Francisco, and a husband with a job HE likes in the Bay Area, and three children in schools they like in Berkeley and a dog, well, the dog could move to Guilford. Maybe. The thing is, though, he has a friend in the neighborhood, a sporty dog named Dash, who can actually play with Archie without giving in to him or getting into a big embarrassing dog fight. Archie would probably want to stay in Berkeley too, I‘m thinking.

What this is, of course, is what always happens when I travel to see friends. When I do that, I always discover thatI want to live in the places where they live. Although this isn’t possible, it is possible to list the reasons, which is what I’m going to do.

Why I Want to Live in Guilford:

If I lived in Guilford, I could be near my friend Debbie. And then I could watch her talk about her books with her beautiful long fingers making motions in the air to describe what she’s talking about and every once in a while I could even look into her office and see the drawings on her drawing table and know that here, where Debbie lives and works, wonderful books are being written for children, books that will entertain them, make them think, and make them love books even more than they already do.

If I lived in Guilford, I could be near Sandi Shelton. And then I could go for a walk with her on the beach at Hammonasset and she’d give me advice about my next book that would not only be correct but would also be inspiring. Plus, I would laugh a lot and so live a really long time, so I could take full advantage of her good advice. Also, I could watch her type, which is what I’m doing at this exact moment, and because she types fast, I’d always feel like things were good, because Sandi’s typing someone a really great,  long, funny and inspiring e-mail.

If I lived in Guilford, when spring came, I’d be so incredibly grateful that I wouldn’t quite know what to do with myself. Because after months of winter and then months of mud, flowers and green things would really mean something. I say this now, just as spring is about to arrive in Connecticut. What would it be like to actually live through these New England winters? I’m really not sure. Maybe it would be hard.

If I lived in Guilford, I could come to the Guilford Free Library, where there are just an amazing, amazing number of tables with plugs and lights and surface space. Not to mention, carrels, and little offices, and even, in the teen section, two of the kind of booths you see mostly a soda shops in tv sit-coms. Across from the booths in the teen section there’s a bunch of board games. Who ARE these people in Guilford who love library patrons so much that they even have a little table in the children’s library with a tea maker and coffee maker and an honor box where you can put in your dollar after you make yourself a cup of tea? If you were a tired parent, and it was the middle of deepest darkest winter, well, you could come here with your child and you could drink some tea and read a book because the children’s section has books for miles, plus a little yellow house where a child can sit and play for hours and hours.

If I lived in Guilford, I could walk the mile and a half down to the shore and then back again — the perfect three mile walk. I could do it every day, all year long, because that is what Gortex is invented for and so even if it was cold or icy, there are winter clothes that would make this intrepid behavior possible.

And if I lived in Guilford, my family would be wth me, and they’d be doing all these things too (well, maybe not the part about writing in the Free Library, although William might find that pretty tempting), plus W, who is a windsurfer, could windsurf out on the Long Island Sound, which is where he learned to windsurf in the first place.

I am leaving in two days, and I know I am not going to be able to move to Guilford. But I am at least able to be happy for Sandi and Debbie, and all the other people who live around here, because even though you can’t always live where your friends live, at least you can know after a good long visit that they are, in fact, living happy lives, which is pretty much why you travel to see your friends: because you need to know that they’re happy, and you need to live alongside them for a little while so when you go home their lives will feel just that much closer next time you find yourself missing them. So, I now have a good picture of the library and the Green and the way winter becomes spring, which should sustain me when I get back to Berkeley, which is a pretty fine place to live too, now that I think about it.


23 thoughts on “Moving To Guilford

  1. Dear Lily. How I loved this post. Something much like this happens when I travel to visit friends… or just travel. My visits to Berkeley, by the way, all occurred before I knew of bloglily and her work, her reading, her writing, her family, her ways. But I’m glad I know it and some of its places and seasons and ways enough to know you are living a happy life there. Thanks for this putting into words.

  2. Guilford sounds totally lovely bloglily, but one problem? 96% white. Oh dear. Please stay in the Bay Area. SO many of the “best places to live in America” coincidentally happen to have no people of color. Hmmm.

    White 20,550 96%
    African-American 200 0.9%
    Asian 352 1.6%
    American Indian & Alaskan 10 0%
    Other 88 0.4%
    Mixed Race 198 0.9%
    Hispanic (included in categories above) 455 2.1%

  3. Hi! I can’t believe you are actually in the next town! I”m glad you are enjoying your visit so much. I still reread your comments on letting go of beloved dogs, especially when I really miss my beloved dog. I hope you got to Madison and visited RJ Julia’s and the new tea place, Savvy Tea. Our beaches are nice here too!!! Gail

  4. Marie, Your backyard is looking pretty wonderful, from where I sit (again, in the Guilford Free Library). Happy spring!

    Jade — I think that is, indeed, one of the measures of a good trip. Which means you should be moving to NYC or to London or Paris, right?

    Hello Gail — I did indeed get to go to Savvy Tea and RJ Julia’s (what a great bookstore that is!) Lucky you, to live near the shore and get to go to those places all the time. (And thank you for what you said about our dogs — I am so amazed by how much feeling I have developed for our dog, and how protective I feel of him.)

    Thank you Lilian — I see you too have been waiting for spring and noticing that it’s coming. It’s very exciting, isn’t it? In Berkeley, winter never gets deep and dark and things don’t ever totally go underground, so it’s possible to miss it when spring arrives. Not so in the East — which I’ve decided I really love.

    Susan – 96%!! That’s amazing. I had no idea it was even possible to whiten a town that much. I wonder how that happens. In the bay area, I suppose maybe places like Pleasanton would have that same racial composition. It’s a complex thing — a combination of history, economics, … But I think that if I lived in Guilford I would want it to be more diverse, because that means more vibrant in important ways. My friend Debbie lives in Hamden, which is next door to New Haven, which is a city that reminds me of Oakland and Berkeley put together — racially and economically diverse with a great university in the center, and so all the plays/talks/museums/music that comes with being a university town.

    Deborah! That is just so lovely. I do really like living in Berkeley — and my family (and the dog) love it too. I’m coming home tomorrow, and I plan to really try to notice that it’s spring. xo

  5. I think we all need a Guilford, CT–a place we love, a place where we’d like to live but probably won’t, a repository of longings we didn’t even know we had. Our Guilfords help us to daydream and they keep us mindful of pleasant possibilities beyond the comings and going of ordinary life.

    My Guilford is Geneva, Switzerland. My wife and I are going to Geneva in May to celebrate John Calvin’s 500th birthday. We’ll walk hand-in-hand down the Quai de Mont Blanc, we’ll sip Swiss wine in the Plac du Burg-de-four and we’ll talk about how nice it would be to live there in the shadow of the Alps, about how cute our children would sound speaking French, and then we’ll return home to San Jose, a little bit sad, but better people, I think, for having visited our Guilford.

  6. Hah! You should see how white Lebanon Missouri is. It’s about 98% white, althout I haven’t actually looked at the census demographics. When Jim and I moved here from the Bay ARea, our reaction was “What happened to all the other people?”

    My brother and his wife live in Guilford. He has mentioned the Free LIbrary.

  7. Oh, Lily! It’s been wonderful to have you here. It’s made even ME appreciate Guilford all the more. What’s funny is how we were walking down the sidewalk on the Green and I was saying, “It’s a nice town, but I’ve never thought of it as particularly friendly…” and then from that moment on it was like a Frank Capra musical–with people popping out of storefronts to say hello and whistle tunes, people waving and smiling–even TEENAGERS who were zooming past us on bikes!! I think Guilford was possibly showing off for company. But anyway I take back all the not-so-nice thoughts I’ve ever had about this sweet little town, even though I, too, have been often disturbed by its lack of, uh, diversity. Please, please come back again!

  8. I know just how you feel. If only it were possible, I would live here AND in Bath in the UK which is my favourite city, and somewhere like Scotland for the wild beauty, and San Francisco, which I’d love, love to visit, and Paris. Bilocation is the proof of sainthood, they say, so goodness only knows how good I’ll have to be to manage this feat – it’s not likely that I’ll make it!

  9. Guilford is lovely and I have even been bicycling around there. Connecticut winters, though. Shudder. Although you are quite right and we are all so, so thankful for spring. I had lunch in the park twice this week and it was marvellous.
    There are many places I would like to live: Oxford, UK; Edinburgh; Siena, oh and somewhere in Cornwall. Slightly different versions of lives are associated with all of them.

  10. You’ve sold me. I’ll definitely move with you. Guilford is a lovely little Connecticut town, and a great place to be based. And then we could explore all the other lovely little Connecticut towns (of which there are so many) together.

  11. You’re making ME want to move to Guildford now. It sounds lovely (though I bet it snows lots–mark not in its favor, trust me). However, it sounds like you’re having a wonderful time.

  12. Sadly, the UK is suffering with many libraries being closed. Apparently people no longer use them as they once did. I really cannot imagine a world without a public library. Something rather special, reverential even about them. I recently re-joined my local library as much in support as self interest.

  13. Sigh. Guilford. The Bay Area. Paris. They all sound so wonderful. Of course people look at pictures of Cape Town and think we live in paradise here too. But I’m really glad you had such a good time visiting in Connecticut. Definitely one for the coast-to-coast tour (which P and will probably get to when we’re 50!)

  14. YOu make me want to come visit Guilford! lol We get enough winter up here, right now we are all longing for a sight of green,fresh spring green…..I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip, that’s what they are for – to awaken us to all the wonders of the world around us 😀

  15. Pingback: Spring! « BlogLily

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