It feels fitting today, on Thanksgiving Eve, to reflect back upon the past year that led us to our remote country life. This time last year Steve (my husband) and I were packing up the last of the items from our small apartment into the back of a U-Haul printed with an inviting camel on the side. We were ready to get the hell out of dodge.
Steve had unwittingly quit his job, though for a time, it had seemed possible to transfer to a remote work from home status. At the last minute the company backed out, but our lease was up and we had already decided this new place was where we wanted to be. Raising our daughter in Baltimore city was not ideal for us which we had always known. The last year we spent there was from pure necessity while Steve tried to negotiate and set into motion transforming his DC job position into a satellite job from WV. We took a lease on a cheap apartment and knew it was going to feel like a long year. The apartment was just the third story loft of an old building with staircases so narrow we never even bought a couch. We shared the house with young neighbors who specialized in domestic disturbances and illicit habits, and cockroaches frittered across the floors night and day. Hard to say which of them I personally preferred. This place had lead paint, cracked vinyl floors, and a bath tub accessible from behind half of a wall. You'd kind of have to see it to get understand, but suffice to say it wasn't charming.
We were paying down debt left and right from our out-of-pocket home birth (though we would change nothing about that experience), and the 3 month long cross country road trip we took the year before while Runa was in utero. The trip had been planned, but the pregnancy was a surprise so we were adjusting accordingly to life post trip. We had tried unsuccessfully to move to Oregon but couldn't afford to get back to the Pacific Northwest once we were back East. We bounced around Maryland a bit sojourning with relatives and friends on air mattresses and cots. Runa was finally born in the Creek House, a summer vacation home of Steve's Aunt and Uncle, on a cold winter day with fog so dense I couldn't even see the creek right behind the house. That was the longest we stayed in one spot - about 4 months. Next we went back to the double wide trailer with 4 adults, 2 dogs, and 1 baby before moving into a single wide trailer across the street with 3 adults, 2 dogs, and 1 baby. I am forever grateful for the friends and family that let us into their homes during this time.
Once we made the choice to sign a lease on an apartment we were apprehensive to have made a commitment to one location for so long. I especially mean me. This apartment was not nice and I could tell that from the get go, but we really needed to make a move and it's what we could afford. The opportunity to rent the house from Steve's brother and sister-in-law in West Virginia was already there, but we didn't know how we could find work in such a remote area. Steve's Dad whom we split the single wide trailer with decided to move out to WV during the year we stayed in Baltimore. We went to visit the 20 acre property a few times trying to decide if we really wanted to move there too. I. Hated. It. I already knew I loved West Virginia - we were married on top of Spruce Knob Mountain, we joyfully camped in the Dolly Sods during torrential downfall, hiked the brutal trek up to Seneca Rocks and Bear Rocks, and fell in love with the foliage hidden in the Cranberry Glades bogs- but this place with its staggering population of 95 people seemed like a death sentence. The median age of people felt about 95. The post office was open 2 hours a day, but there is no home mail delivery. The nearest town with anything I enjoyed was 40 minutes away. Capon Springs is nothing like Thomas, my beloved nook in Tucker County, WV - home to Blackwater Falls State Park and TipTop. Steve and I had one very emotionally charged conflict about the house in which I voiced tearfully that I absolutely hated it. He was seeing much more potential for our happiness there than I was at the time and said as much, but we left it alone for awhile. For me it took six months of the year lease being stuck in that Baltimore apartment to concede the appeal of Capon Springs. Things were unraveling rapidly and my anxiety was really peaking from stress about our lack of money, new mom tiredness, and my complete revulsion at our living situation as I felt a roach crawl across my bare foot one night. I was finally ready. Really READY.
So last Thanksgiving Day we moved. And we stayed. One whole year later I get to share reflections with my friends and family, new and old. We are still in debt and broke. We work to live, not live to work. We've started building dream projects like this website, and our mushroom farm Hexenring Mushrooms. We have made friends more quickly than I would have ever dreamed, many of whom are younger than us - with KIDS. There are alternative home school kids and young families everywhere. Farmers and artists and musicians and witches. I am so content in our decision to come and stay here. I have experienced the area through all of the seasons and can't speak words to how bewitching the Cacapon River ("Medicine Waters") is. I pass by mountain ranges ever day and see the fog roll across the peaks of blue. I watched thousands of frogs spawn in our pond. I met my first rattle snake and black bear family a week apart. It would be easy to wax poetic about living here, but that's a bullshit move and I share myself in honesty. Life here is as complicated and cluttered and unpredictable as the forest I am staring into as I write this. My gratitude for embracing this flow is placed in many loving hands and hearts, and also many cockroach visitors repelling me from stagnation and defeat.