It was early spring when I first arrived in Winterfell. The southern towns were my destination as they looked like a good place for me to settle. There were two parcels available on a street one block from the port. Perfect! Still I looked about before purchasing to be sure they were the best available to meet my needs. They were.
The larger parcel, halfway down the block, would be perfect for my home. The smaller parcel, on the corner, was perfect for my pub. There were two other small parcels in between them, each with a shop. I liked the idea of some separation between house and pub.
Miss Serra, the Seneschelf, came to greet me. I excitedly told her of my plans. She smiled and offered words of encouragement. Such a warm welcome added to my excitement.
Those first days in Winterfell were busy as one would expect. The pub was erected and the house was put up. Two friends journeyed from the Mainland to lend a hand. They had not heard of Winterfell. I could see it was foreign to them but in a good way. They were curious but did not know what to say. They were curious about Winterfell itself and about my moving here. We were too busy for serious talk. “They’ll be back,” I thought.
Later, Seamus had to visit to see what had caused me to seek a place away from my work. I showed him the house. It was nearly empty but it was still a welcome sight for the weary. We both were weary from all that had been going on with the Mainland operation. Then we walked to the pub. We took the long way ‘round. As he looked about the streets of Port Laudanum, he kept smiling, a knowing smile. “You lucky bastard,” he finally said. “You found it before I did.” “Found what?” “It.” I remembered his words from two winters ago about looking for something else and not knowing what it was until he found it. “Oh no,” I said. “I’m not leaving anything behind. This is just an escape. A place to get away to now and again.” Seamus was still smiling and there was something about his eyes. “No my friend,” he said, “it’s more than that.” The look on my face must have asked him the question in my head. “You’ll see,” he replied. His eyes were twinkling. We walked the rest of the way in silence.
It wasn’t long before I realized what Seamus meant.
It was all so sudden. The decision to live in Winterfell, the search for land and setting up household and the pub was a whirlwind. All of this had happened over four days. Now I was here. I ventured out. I explored the streets of the southern towns and went up to Winterfell prime as well. I had travelled away to buy new clothes to look my best as I met new neighbors and made new friends. Some visited my pub to say hello, others walked up to the house while I was in the yard.
I formed a management group for my Winterfell properties and pondered what to name it for some time. Danko in Winterfell came to mind as Winterfell seemed like Wonderland to me and I mean this in the most complimentary way. But the alliteration of Whitfield in Winterfell won me over. I thought it was a fun name and I chuckled over it as I was setting up the house.
Then along came Dauphiness Ceriaptrix. It turned out that Miss Ceriaptrix was the owner of an establishment known as The Rabbit Hole. It further turned out that her establishment was located directly next door to my new home. I could not help but laugh again and again over the next few days at the coincidence that the selection process for my group name was inspired by Alice in Wonderland and without knowing it I was living next door to a club inspired by the same book. Coincidence? Maybe not! It made the feeling that I had made the right decisions in coming here even stronger. Then Miss Ceriaptrix told me that the previous owner of my land had the exact same house I had just installed. Another coincidence? The next night I went to The Rabbit Hole to dance and to begin to introduce myself. How could I do otherwise!
Cake, a fairy from another land, and my oldest friend in this life came to visit, to hear my news first hand and visit the pub. We sat in the upstairs bar which I knew she would like. She was happy to hear about all of the nice things that had happened to me that week. Word of Winterfell had travelled to her land and while she hadn’t seen much of it first hand, she held a high opinion of it. When Cake would visit me on the Mainland I lived in a different time. She was tickled to see me dressed in my Victorian attire. In that other time I always dressed very simply and informally. “I have travelled ‘round the globe and through several centuries,” I told her, “and this is the time I have decided to live in. I am happy here in this time, in these clothes, in this town.” As I listened to my words I was more surprised than she was.
Seamus was right, this had already become a place that was more than an escape. This place had become my new life. I had found what HE was looking for. He wouldn’t know what he was looking for til he found it. I found it even before I fully realized that I was looking. It was then I decided I did not want to return to the Mainland and my life in that other time. Of course, I had to. If only to pack it all up. So that’s what I did.
It was not hurried nor haphazard. It was very orderly, there was no need to panic. After all, I didn’t decide to pack it all in and THEN go looking for a new life. I already had a new life to go to!
There were commitments to people and I gladly honored them. They thanked me and wished me well. A couple of them said they were also ready to lighten their load and to do something else, to find something new and begin a new life. They congratulated me on finding mine.
It was sad at the end to say goodbye to friends and to take down the last of my towns. I kept The Evergreen Pub open until the last possible day. One more round, one more song. And then it was over.
That was the way it had to be. Because from the moment I walked into Port Laudanum on that day at the beginning of March things had been changing. Now everything was different and wonderful. Winterfell was a Wonderland. I had found My Place. I had decided that that was all I wanted. A weight was lifting.