A few weeks ago, I spent a Saturday night on my friends’ back porch. We were rocking in rocking chairs, staring up at the stars, and drinking beer and homemade moonshine while there were guns and/or firecrackers firing in the not-so-distant distance. We were enjoying a good conversation and I had one of those moments like I did when I first put on snow boots or that time I wore flannel to brunch where I thought… this is Boone. This is my Boone life.
And then I picked up my rental car the next morning and I drove up to DC for the week.
Sometimes I feel like I’m being pulled in different directions: working in DC and living in North Carolina. I always have a great time in DC. I love the buzz of the city. I hop off the metro and walk into my 12 story office where I’m acknowledged as a professional citizen living a meaningful life. I have good, human conversations with my colleagues over coffee and lunch, and I feel grateful. I really benefit from this social time whenever work sends me to a new city for a conference or fair, too. I’m reminded of how the work that I do fits into the big picture. I see how we’re making a difference. It’s a good feeling.
But these experiences are rare, in the big scheme of things. I travel – at most – for a few days a month, and then I go back to North Carolina. I drive back up the mountain and breathe in the crisp mountain air. I wash off the city and I settle in. I work from my home office tucked on the side of a mountain far, far away from the metro and the monuments. I fall into a softer rhythm. It’s partially a coping mechanism, I think. But I adjust.
When I talk to my colleagues about Boone: the bluegrass, the bears, my neighbors who raise goats and chickens, and the gravel roads that require 4 wheel drive all year round, it sounds foreign. It sounds funny. It sounds like a middle of no where town on top of a mountain where no one would choose to live. And everyone tells me “we have to get you out of there!” and I feel their sympathy as if I’m suffering.
And when in Boone, I hear the opposite, “Aren’t you sick of driving back and forth to DC?” And, “Isn’t it isolating? Working from home?” Yeah, it is sometimes. Even though I talk to my colleagues on the phone, I spend most of my day in isolation. I miss the post-work Happy Hours and the cake that’s passed around to celebrate a milestone. It nags at me just a little at first, and then I get ignored in a meeting or there’s a misunderstanding and I crave a real, face-to-face early morning coffee conversation, but there’s no one to talk to by the coffee pot except for my cat. It can feel really isolating, sometimes.
When I need to be in the city again, I go. It’s a cycle. It’s disorienting, and I pretty much get culture shock every time I travel and come back, but that’s what my work life looks like right now. Everyone seems to have an opinion about this set up. People who can spend weeks alone without getting cabin fever think I am living the dream. (If I spend 48 hours alone, I feel like I’m suffocating.) I’ll also hear people say they could “never” live in Boone or “never” live in DC, and I get that. We’re all viewing the world through our own lenses.
City people prefer the city. Mountain people prefer the mountains. Bret and I… we’re not mountain people. We love to visit cities, but I think, if anything, we’re beach people. We’re also okay being nomads. We like living in different places and experiencing different environments and stretching ourselves to live outside of our comfort zones. For now, that’s Boone. I love my job, and I love living with Bret, so this is the “best of both worlds” solution, and I’m grateful it’s an option.
Everyone talks about this time being temporary. And it is. But everything is temporary. In a couple years, we may be living in a big city, or by the ocean, maybe on a brand new coast. I’m looking forward to that, but I don’t want to live my life waiting for the next phase to start. Right now, this is what my life looks like, and I’m okay with that:
I do feel lonely sometimes, and I want to be real about that. Working from home was better in Florida with the sunshine, the pool, and everything in walking distance.Y’all know that Boone is not my favorite place, but we are making real efforts to connect to the community here. Sometimes I feel blue when I think about the 8 months of winter that are upon us, but then I do some gratitude exercises that I learned a couple years back. I start by thinking: I’m grateful for this life. …and it always grows from there.
I don’t love the house we are renting, but I’m grateful for my adorably decorated home office. I miss the city, but I’m grateful for all this fresh air. I don’t love the cold, but I love the snow, and I’ll be grateful for that first snowflake. I miss my friends, but I’m so grateful for all of the friends and family who have visited us here. I don’t love Boone, but I’m grateful for the people I’ve met here, this time, and this life, and I’m grateful for cool starry nights spent on a back porch with new friends.