Sometime during high school, I remember thinking my dad was losing it. He’d often broadcast his plan to move to the middle of nowhere and shut himself off from civilization. Not only would he be devoid of neighbors in his newfound wonderland, but there would be no telephone access (my father hated the intrusion of the phone, exacerbated by a teenage daughter in the house). He said if we (meaning his children) wanted to talk to him, we’d have to show up to his secluded hermit shack in person.
Ironically, now that I’ve hit mid-life, parts of this don’t sound half bad to me either. I don’t rail against society (much) or desire solitary confinement, but a little space, quiet and seclusion sound great.
I’m ready to get out of my quaint old town neighborhood and onto a piece of land large enough that I see trees when I look out my windows instead of my neighbor’s kitchens or driveways.
I’d love to have a space that allows me to hear the whisper of branches and singsongs of birds rather than the year-round drone of lawn mowers, leaf blowers and snow blowers.
It would be idyllic to experience the dark of night and see the millions of stars that true mountain living can bring, untouched by the typical light pollution found even in small towns like mine.
I long for the tranquility of meandering walks in nature’s glorious landscape, or enjoying a cup of something on a porch overlooking the water, a valley or a forest.
I’m not anti-social; I’m just ready for a little elbow room, and I’ll take it in the form of where I call home.
It would surely mean certain inconveniences, such as traveling further to the grocery store, drycleaner, gas station, or the gym. It would likely mean that extra food storage would be smart, if not required. It may mean I can’t get mail at my own address.
It would also mean trekking longer distances for social occasions but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
My husband is also ready for this kind of change — he’s been ready to exit the neighborhood realm for decades. He is worried I will get lonely without my daily human interactions — especially with no kids or pets in the house. We are pet-less at the moment, and our youngest son will graduate high school next year, so I understand his concern, but it’s unwarranted.
When I first visited Charles Town back in 1988, I was a born and bred city girl living in San Francisco. I remember thinking, “This is a nice little town but I could never live here.”
Fast forward to 1993 when I cheerfully moved to Jefferson County after living in the armpit of Northern Virginia for nearly five years. I couldn’t wait to get out of that place with its crowds, traffic and never-quite-good-enough attempts at bona fide urban life.
Before now, I probably wasn’t ready for a big chunk of property — or the type of privacy and solitude that can bring. But just like I wasn’t ready for Charles Town previously, now I am ready for the next phase, which is out of town without being totally off the grid.
As such, I dream about where I might live and the type of home I could build. All I know for sure is it will be vastly different than either I inhabit now. I get giddy just thinking about it.
And while I don’t exactly have the details figured out — such as how to foot the bill and other minor issues — I’m a firm believer in if you can dream it, you can do it.
All three of my sons are vehemently against the idea, of course. They are staunch traditionalists and our 100-plus-year-old home was their mainstay during their formative growing years.
They like it. And why wouldn’t they? They don’t pay the energy and utility bills. They don’t have to clean it (anymore). They don’t have to perform regular maintenance chores. Instead, they get all their warm childhood memories bundled with good, home-cooked meals and the blanket of familiarity.
I’m sure once my dream happens, my kids will realize not only how genuinely happy we all are in the new habitat, but how much they’ll enjoy it when they come to visit. Or not.
I believe home is where the heart is — the most important thing about home is the people in it — so I’ll just take that wherever I go.
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