It’s hard to believe that Brian and I came back from our trip around the world nearly two and a half years ago. In some ways it feels as though we have been back forever, that our years of exploring were just a dream. So much has changed since we boarded that one-way flight to Ecuador. Aside from the inevitable march of time (we are closer to 40 than 30 now, ohmygod), we are also parents. We live in Ohio. Our life is utterly different from the life we had in Oregon, and while I will always love those years, I feel so much more whole now, so sure of myself and the decisions I have made. Maybe that’s just a byproduct of growing older, though I suspect it is also a byproduct of following one’s dreams.
Long, long ago when I was still back in Oregon and dreaming of changing my life I wrote a blog post called “Why I’m Quitting My Job to Travel.” Even back then, perched on the edge of an open-ended trip around the world, I knew the kind of life I wanted to come home to one day. I wrote:
“Brian, who knows me better than anyone, says that I will never be content. But I don’t know if he’s right. I can almost envision a life in which I would be content. First of all, it is a life in which I am a writer. Second of all, it is a life in which I am around nature, living in the mountains where I can easily hike or run in the forest. Third of all, it is a life in which I have close connections to people. When it gets down to it that is all I really want.”
If you’ve read The Yellow Envelope you know that the book ended when our trip did. After that, we landed in Cincinnati, close to our families and the towns we grew up in but farther away from the lifestyle that fills us up. We were excited to give Cincinnati a try (and, after a period of adjustment, we really have loved it here), but while living in Cincinnati has given us many gifts (precious time with family), it’s stripped us of the life that feels most like us: outdoors, in the mountains and close to nature.
We’ve considered so many options in the 2.5 years we’ve been back home. We entertained the idea of traveling internationally again. We thought about moving back to Oregon (or Colorado, or Mexico) and of course we considered staying in Cincinnati because leaving family is hard. About a year ago, feeling nature-starved and antsy, we went so far as to buy a little Shasta camper and I wrote a book proposal about living in it for a year with our daughter. But when the time came it just didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to shove my life into a backpack again. I didn’t want to be nomadic. I wanted a community and a home. I wanted the same things I wanted when I was writing that blog post, spelling out a life that would make me content: A writing life, a home in the mountains, family, community.
The amazing little camper that did not become our home.
And so, we’re leaping towards a new dream.
Last week we bought a house in a small mountain town of 3,000 people (!!) just outside of Asheville, North Carolina. The place is perfect for us, and the second we walked into the house we knew it was ours. It has porches on all four sides, an outdoor fire pit with a view of the mountains, and over an acre of land, some of it wooded and fenced and some of it perfect for planting a garden. It has hardwood floors and a big brick fireplace. Our neighbors tell us that the neighborhood is home to deer, black bear and a family of wild turkeys. And, it’s just a six-hour drive to our families back in Ohio. This house feels like a bit of a miracle, a dream of a place. And somehow it is ours.
(If you’re wondering how we’re able to do this (I KNOW you’re wondering), Brian’s job has allowed him to work remotely full-time, enabling us to live where we want.)
The view of our house from the fire pit.
Yep, I think I can get used to drinking my morning coffee here.
Even before our daughter was born it was our dream to raise her outdoors and close to nature. Now, we get to give her that childhood. I love knowing that our girl will spend her early years romping through the forest, camping, kayaking, climbing, floating on rivers and swimming in lakes.
The view from a hike that’s 10 minutes from our home.
I have so many dreams of what it will be like to live in this house, in these beautiful mountains, to wake up each day in a place I feel inspired and awed. The house itself is a writer’s paradise, with lots of porches and windows, and I can’t wait to see what will be created here. I’ve started working on my next book (which includes a big adventure. I’m still me after all) and this November I’m hosting my first writer’s retreat in Asheville (it’s a beta-retreat, but if you want to be notified about my first real retreat, which I hope to host next spring, sign up here.)
It’s been seven years since I wrote that original blog post and while Brian is right, I might not ever be completely content (I’m learning to live with and even love this part of myself- I crave change and adventure, and that’s okay) I do feel more content than I have ever been. This next version of the dream has been seven years in the making. We move this weekend. I’m excited to see what unfolds for us and, yes, to start planning for what comes next.