I watched a TedTalk a while ago about the power of community which essentially said that when you share your dreams and challenges within a community, someone there can help you succeed. As humans, we need to feel like part of a community in order to feel safe and grow and thrive. Community is everything, basically, but for a while now, I haven’t really had one.
For the past three years I’ve lived on the side of a mountain in a town that I feel only a small connection to. I went to a church here once where the sermon derailed into a declaration on how you should eat something wild (i.e. a weed growing in your yard) every day. Also, I went to an upmarket farm to table restaurant and while it was lovely and delicious, I discovered a live worm crawling around in my salad. When I gently brought attention to this, our server brought me another salad, but I wondered if the typical customer would have just eaten around it. And finally I went wine tasting at a popular vineyard and was told by the owner that getting a fruit fly in your glass is good luck. Lucky me, I got three in my first pour. I never went back there.
Boone is a weird little place that a lot of people love, but it has never felt like home to me. I’ve made a few good friends here who supported me through grief and generally made life manageable, and I’m very grateful for them, but overall, I’ve found Boone to be incredibly isolating and crowded at the same time. We can’t go anywhere – not even the grocery store – without navigating tourist traffic and happenstance running into one of Bret’s colleagues or better yet a grumpy tourist with an urgent need for directions to the alpaca farm because GPS nor phone signal exists in half the area.
In some ways those experiences were entertaining, but every interaction requires energy and Boone has been really good at keeping my energy level low.
And let’s talk about Boone weather for a moment, shall we? Fall starts in August, winter is here by October, and the first year I was here, it snowed on Cinco de Mayo. In May. And regardless of the season, it is almost always gloomy and foggy and damp here which makes the roads treacherous. It’s a stressful combination that generally makes me feel trapped and desperate to leave at the same time.
Another unpleasant challenge: Boone is hard to get to. It’s two hours from the nearest airport, and that drive is up a long steep mountain road that is often blanketed in fog and/or heavy rain. Just knowing these roads separate me from the rest of the world further contributes to my feelings of isolation.
What else? The housing market is ridiculously over-priced since most of the houses here are vacation homes. Even if you have half a million dollars to throw at a house with a decent mountain view, it won’t have high speed internet or city water or trash pick up or a state maintained paved road. Some people love that about mountain life, but I really, really, really don’t.
We were very fortunate to find a somewhat affordable place to rent in town, but living on a side of a mountain without air conditioning in a 1970’s house that leaks, cracks, has major electrical issues and never sees sunlight helps nothing.
Y’all, I’ve tried to make peace with living here. I’ve written my gratitude lists and kept things in perspective, but It’s been a long three years. Every time someone has told me that “it could be worse” I’ve nodded along, like, sure it could, but I want it to be BETTER.
Well. After enjoying a beach vacation, and dreading our return to our house full of cracks and leaks and mold, we received a late night phone call notifying us that due to some sad events, the house we rent was being sold and we’d need to move later this year. At first this set of a panic, where would we move on such short notice?!
Nothing was available in Boone, but Bret had a brilliant I mean BRILLIANT idea to use this as an opportunity to live somewhere we love.
Long story short, within 6 days, we decided to MOVE TO WINSTON-SALEM!
We had never even visited, but in a span of 3 afternoons driving back and forth to our new city, we:
- found a perfect apartment with a surplus of natural light
- dined in an an oyster bar that felt just like Tallahassee
- enjoyed a First Friday art event downtown
- chatted with the friendly indie movie theater staff
- laughed with a neighboring table in a coffee house that is a dream come true (one of Bret’s biggest gripes about Boone is the lack of a quality coffee shop. This one had excellent coffee, wifi, cheesecake, wine, ample seating…it’s perfect)
…And two weeks later we officially moved.
In short, Winston-Salem feels like home already and we truly couldn’t be happier about this transition. I can BREATHE better here, literally and figuratively. Everything about this move makes our lives better, except for Bret’s commute, but I’m so glad that he’s willing to do it because it is oh so worth it.