Thursday, March 19, 2015

Could I live here? Do I want to?

One of my favorite places on earth: atop Pierre's Knob, Bridger Bowl, Bozeman, Montana

I grew up in the north east - around the New York City area, and although I was raised in the suburbs (an unholy compromise that is the worst of country life and city life in one place) I spent a lot of my formative years in Manhattan. I guess that makes me somewhat of a 'city mouse.' Certainly, I have always been comfortable in cities. I like the energy of a city, the diversity and the mix of cultures, and styles.

The man I married is a self-described country mouse. He prefers open spaces and quiet. He enjoys visiting cities, and then returning home.

We are currently visiting family outside of Bozeman, Montana, staying in a log cabin on 20 acres of land. There is a lot of space and quiet here. Wild turkeys and deer wander the property. At night, when it is clear, the stars are very bright.

We have been coming to visit here for over 25 years and each time, my husband and I would have a conversation about what it would be like to live here. We even have gone as far as looked into real estate, but never went beyond the dreaming stage.

Each time, despite how happy I am here and how relaxed I feel, I wasn't sure I could imagine myself living in a place like this.

But things have changed. Now I am a full time writer and my work is wherever I happen to be. The internet has come to our cousins' cabin, albeit slow service via satellite. Our house would sell for considerably more than we paid for it 22 years ago and cost of living is cheaper here. My children are grown. My need for solitude has also shifted. While I live outside of Boston, I spend great swaths of my time alone, in the 'company' of my characters and stories. And I am happy.

So I wonder - could I live here? Do I want to? 

I'm not sure. I think I could be happy here - happiness is not a product of geography, but of being content with one's self and circumstances.  There's a lot to love, not the least of which is access to amazing skiing and a long winter.

At least for now, I don't see us making such a major change. My husband is not yet ready to step away from his job, and our children are still coming home for school holidays. Home is still home for them. And there's no compelling reason to pull that rug out from under them.

I don't know if this is in our future. Maybe it is. Maybe we'll find ourselves in Western MA, or Vermont, or any one of a hundred places. Maybe our lives will take us in some other utterly unpredictable direction.

With Frani and Kim, circa 2002ish

But change is coming. I can feel it like the shifting of seasons. There will be a time when we will be ready to leave our house, to simplify our lives, to make some choices. Life is short and there are no guarantees. Our cousin's wife passed away in the fall, just a year after she retired, just after she and her husband had started making plans for their new future. I feel her presence here. If she could whisper in my ear, I think she would tell me not to wait too long. To spend less time worrying and more time living.

I wish she had been able to take that very advice. I wish she had had more time.


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