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Publish date: June 2021 by Penguin Random House/Hatherleigh

CHAPTER 1: Empty Rooms

I’d always feared it would come down to nothing but empty rooms filled with lonely, old lady memories — and suddenly there I was, staring at empty rooms filled with lonely, old lady memories.  

How did it come to this so fast? Where did all the sticky-lollipop kisses and I-love-you-Mommy hugs go? How was it possible my daughters had transitioned from sweet little souls to full-blown, eyeball-rolling, cereal-for-dinner-eating Insta-Finsta-Snap-Gram-Book-Texting-Time-Facing-Tweeter-Twitter-Tumbler-Tokers to Gen Zers with Uber accounts and lives of their own?

Even if I closed their doors, I knew I would sleep in their beds and smell their sheets the same as I smelled the armpits of their father’s suits. I also knew our “new” house would be a constant reminder of their absence–the same way that our old house had been a constant reminder of his. 

And then in an instant, my beautiful first-born daughter Nell was going off to college with her sister Susannah right behind her. First Mark, then my youth, now my daughters. 

Funny how life sneaks up on you. I never had a poke of gray hair, reading glasses or cellulite until I did. Nor did I ever truly, deeply and really know what I had until it was gone. A husband, two cute little kids, a nice home just outside of New York City, good jobs, good health. Even without practicing mindfulness and gratefulness and all of that goopy stuff, you still take it all for granted that your life will always be there in the morning.

“What are you going to do now with what’s left of your one wild and precious life now?” I could almost hear Mary Oliver calling down from the heavens. She was the Mother Mary of poetry, her words full of wisdom.

“I DON’T KNOW MARY!” I’d shout into the skies. “I’M TRYING TO FIGURE IT OUT HERE!” 

All I would have left was two smelly dogs, two pet chickens buried in the side yard, a semi-retired RV in the driveway, my father’s bear skin rug, and my husband’s box of ashes. A total loss of identity. Nothing left to love and protect. No direction home.

Welcome to my ¾ life crisis. 

Now what? Who would hire a slightly middle-aged mom who didn’t know a thumb drive from a mouse pad and who still pressed zero to speak with a humanoid even though the world had gone artificially intelligent and digitally insane? 

Probably no one, that’s who.  

I had always wanted my own business anyway. Doing what, I didn’t know. The internet had all kinds of “101 Business Ideas You Can Start” articles, but the suggestions of becoming a party planner, small engine repair person or a dog walker weren’t necessarily appealing. The closest thing I could find was home inspector or decorator–I did have some aptitude in those areas. But I wasn’t jumping for joy over either vocation. 

Wait! What if I started an Airbnb? I had a house with empty rooms and impending loneliness to spare…How hard could it be?