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.
For over a week I have been having trouble sleeping. I am awake at 2 a.m., envisioning where in my tiny Hyundai I will put my camping gear, or the huge cooler my friend Jessie got for me at a thrift store, or my box of audio cables. I even made a diagram.
So, even though I still have three more full days in New Mexico, I packed the car today. Minus a few boxes of beloved books, it all fits – and thank goodness for media mail. Now I get to live out of my car for a few days to test out the system.
One of the homecoming milestones I am most looking forward to is reuniting my two libraries – the one I have built here in New Mexico, and the one that is still at my parents’ house in Vermont. The one I have developed here started with a handful of novels and Harold Bloom’s beauty of a book. Since then, it has turned into a small collection containing texts of anthropology, midwifery, labor support, osteology, and feminist theory. My library in Vermont is very different: classic literature, theatrical plays, YA fiction.
These two collections tell volumes (pun intended) about who I have been during different chapters of my life. The girl who left Vermont at age 18 is not the woman who is returning at age 25. I want to know what these two libraries look like side by side on the shelves. I am curious how they will complement each other and round each other out. And, like any other book junkie, I can’t WAIT to re-organize them.
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.