Monday, November 2, 2009

Getting Here From There

So our friends (the ones with the now dead chickens) were traveling in California for 10 days in October. The first four days they spent in and around the Mohave Desert driving motorbikes and camping. I received a crackBerry message from one of them that sounded like she was close to having a come to Geezus moment but the lack of private showers (she was the only woman) kept her on this side of sanity. From the desert, they flew north to San Francisco, where they rented motorbikes and tootled around northern Cal. I was jealous. Not of the motorbike part, but of the traveling in and around San Francisco part. Their trip got me thinking about how we arrived here—thousands of miles from the city I love the most—on this little farm, on a tiny spit of land between two waters.

It was a joint choice to leave SF, but mostly mine to head east. We were renting a house in the fog belt and were totally ready to buy, only there was one tiny problem: We didn't have enough cash to get us a place in the neighborhoods we liked. We're talking Riviera tastes on a Six Flags budget.

I had given birth to Katharine months earlier and was not in the best frame of mind. While Andrew trotted off to work on the other side of town basking in sunlight, the kids and I spent the summer in dreary fog, bundled up in turtlenecks and fleece. So one September morning, when I woke to see the sun shining brightly, I bounded out of bed and told Andrew I was going for a quick walk to the bakery and would bring back a fresh baguette. It was a glorious morning. Brilliantly clear, crisp and unusually quiet. I returned home by 6:30 am to the sweet sounds of Andrew and Graham chatting in the kitchen and the phone ringing. I was so high from my walk that the early morning call didn't phase me. I picked up and found my sister on the line. "Turn on the TV," she said, "a plane flew into the World Trade Center. The buildings collapsed." What? The sun was shining. It was a perfect morning. This didn't make sense.

As the week progressed and we learned that our cousin, who we were heading east to see in three days, never made it out of the building, I suddenly started feeling very far from home. I wanted to be back east where our families were. It was a decision totally based on emotion. A month later Andrew made another decision: He was quitting his job and would join me working from home. Scary thought, but the extreme politics and greed in his dot com office had finally gotten to him. Plus, he really wanted to spend more time with the kids. After some careful thought, we decided we could make the necessary sacrifices, learn to live with less, and be our own bosses.

But where would we live? I had proven that one could work from home successfully as long as there was an Internet connection. For several years I had worked with a company based in New York while I was surrounded by San Francisco fog. Moving back to New York City didn't interest either of us—we wanted our kids to grow up with some space. Neither did moving to Cape Cod where Andrew's parents were (winters and tourist season would be hell) or upstate New York where my parents were (winter, again). So Andrew starting googling and found a house that seemed to fit all our basic desires on Virginia's Eastern Shore. It didn't seem to matter that neither of us (in spite of living a year in DC) had ever heard of the Eastern Shore. The house called to us. So we checked it out. We spoke to the previous owners. We poked around the area. Next thing we know we were moving to the country. So here we are, seven years later. Our kids have space. They are learning about where their food comes at this very moment. And now I suppose I'll come clean. I'm writing this as a way to remove myself from what's going on outside. That would be the Frankenbirds meeting the machete. I'm clearly not as brave or right-minded as Therese (see Killing Chickens At Home: Would You Do It? (PHOTOS). I couldn't end a bird's life, but I will cook her later. I'm just happy that the kids are out there helping. That should count for something. Right?

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