Six months ago I arrived at last in the land of fire trees, apples, and volatile weather. Coming home to Vermont came with an increased awareness of my responsibility for my own happiness. While I was living in New Mexico or Colorado or Montreal or wherever over the past eight years, whenever I was having a tough time it was easy to blame it on location. It would all be better in Vermont, I would think.
Moving back to Vermont meant that there would be no more it would all be better land of maple rainbows and fluffy single-payer bunnies that I could think on. It meant that if I became unhappy, it wouldn’t be because I wasn’t in Vermont. It meant an end to the “grass is greener” mentality. I knew when I crossed the state line that it was now fully in my hands to keep the grass watered on my side.
First glimpse of foliage on the final stretch home – upstate NY.
Despite Easter snow showers six months later, my grass is still green and thriving. I have realized that I was, in fact, right for all of these years: things are better for me in Vermont. Even in -24 degree January weather. Even when it is still snowing in April. Even when the community I’m building isn’t localized in one convenient town. Six months later through one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record, there hasn’t been a single day that I’ve regretted my decision to move back. This is home. This is center.
Morning joy and dance in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Yesterday I put my feet in the ocean for the first time in over a year. Technically it was the Potomac river, but it had sand and seashells and strong waves and felt like the ocean except for the fact that you could see land on the other side of the water.
A few days ago while camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I encountered a fog so thick I had to stop driving.
When I go to bed every night, my sheets feel damp and the pages of my book are clammy.
Mist in the Blue Ridge Mountains
I’m still drinking water like I’m in the desert. I’m visiting lots of public bathrooms.
In short, water is everywhere. I keep warily eyeing the trees and ponds and rivers that I see now on a daily basis. I don’t trust them. I half expect them to disappear. I suppose after four years in the desert, I can’t quite let myself believe that I am really back in the forests to stay. That no one is going to make me leave.
That I may once again think that it is unremarkable to be surrounded by green things.
Breakfast in VT.
Breakfast in NM.
Nostalgic for blackberry hunting, rain storms that stay for days, and nude, hidden pools.
Grateful for twenty-minute rushed climaxes of thunder and cool evenings with no bug bites.
Nostalgic for sweaty ceiling fans and endless books.
Grateful for quiet houses with effective cooling systems.
Nostalgic for the one bookstore that had air conditioning, and the leather couch that I claimed as my refuge in July.
Grateful to have options.
Nostalgic for shared meals.
Grateful for green chile. All hail.
Nostalgic for rolling green mountains that welcome me into their abundance.
Grateful for the jagged mountain line that keeps me humble.
There is a tension in coming and going. There is a tension between homesickness and the attempt to live in the moment. We could make pro-con lists about everything in life, and while these lists may make the choice easier or more clear, they won’t take away the necessity of choosing. I chose the American southwest for nearly five years. I am grateful for so many things I have experienced here. Now I am choosing home. And it feels so good.
Your responses have been amazing. One week and two posts deep, and I’m already finding myself filling in the map of my future travels with people to meet, places to stay, and dances to call at. I had hoped this would happen, but it is another thing entirely to see one’s vision start to materialize.
I’m filling in the dots on the map. And I hope it keeps filling. I’m already overflowing to know that there is such generosity in the extended networks of the communities I am a part of.
Thank you. I am grateful.