One year ago my husband and I had come home for a vacation and to celebrate our anniversary by staying on the mountain. We rode by a for sale sign we had seen for years and something inside of me said, “I wonder about that property”. Questions such as how much land or acreage there was in the piece, how much did they want for it, and most of all–why had it not sold in all these years. And for some unknown magical reason I said “why don’t we look that up on line?”. And as my readers know–the rest is history.
August is all of one day old and already you can see a hint of color alongside the trail. We hiked this trail a year ago though neglected it was at that time–and we fell in love with this side of the mountain and determined to call and ask for those details. We looked at the GIS system and the plot and the price and talked at length about it through the whole vacation. We went back home to Northern Virginia and talked some more. And then we stood in our kitchen one afternoon and looked at each other and made the decision that set a whole year in motion–the decision to call and make an offer on the property.
I had no idea at that time the changes that were coming and are still coming in our lives. It is still very surreal to find myself driving around on the local roads, waving to people I’ve known for many years and seeing changes in some places while others have remained untouched. Perhaps it is because I am still living “with the in-laws” that I don’t feel a true sense of home yet. I am home, and yet still feel as if I am a visitor in their house.
Our house is coming along though to me at times very slowly. I go over every day during the week to see the progress and feel frustration if they have not been on the site for a day or two. And other days I feel amazed at the progress and I cannot wait until it is completed! I tell the builder it is like a little Christmas every day to see what lies among the trees there. The finished product and my living there are still weeks away.
It hasn’t been a perfectly easy or seamless transition by any means. Getting through the purchase of this property, the selling of our home in Northern Virginia, followed by the move required a great deal of effort and a huge amount of luck. Everything I own except for clothes and some valuable papers are packed away in a total of 3 places! I haven’t seen so many of my things in so long that I feel I may not remember some of them. Changing jobs has also been a stressful thing. I have left full time clinical practice to go once again into the education arena. Meeting new people, learning new workplace and university culture while being at times exciting–it has been challenging. I don’t quite have my footing there but I am jumping in with “both feet” as the old saying goes.
There is also the transition to being far removed from things that seem to most to be a necessity or “normal”. I am 20 minutes from the nearest grocery store and an hour away from a very small mall. Driving to the post office yesterday I passed a man on his John Deere lawn mower going the other way on the road. We have very poor to no cell phone service right in the immediate area and so depend on a land line phone for communication while at the house. I miss having my own refrigerator and closets–though again I am so grateful that we are able to stay here with family.
And yet on my trip over to the house site I cross the top of the mountain and head down the winding gravel road and feel such a freedom! I know deep in my soul that there are so few places like this any more and every minute of my drive is worth it to reach this feeling! I find myself stopping in the road now to talk with “neighbors” though they may live a mile or more away and catch up on their news and share our own. This is something you would never do for instance on Braddock Road in Fairfax, VA.
The house has become a curiosity and people here feel right at home with driving in the driveway and walking around to admire or comment to themselves about the “crazy” people who are building on this “back side” to live full time. I can hear the questions now, “do they know what the winters are like?”, “do they know what they are getting in to?”. And we do–though I’m sure some may have their doubts. Those who don’t know who we are yet I’m sure feel that only someone from “off the mountain” would build a house here.
A year later, a year into this journey home and I feel so strongly connected to this mountain, to this place and to this region. These mountains truly have pulled me home and I am so grateful!