One Year Later

After a year of being here, I feel quieter. I can sometimes be outside in the darkness and enjoy the sweet emptiness, the gentleness of stars. My inner city girl forgets to be afraid. Sometimes.

After a year of being here, I have stopped kicking and screaming. Identity is a strange thing. Gender, sexuality, intelligence, athleticism, looks, work ethic, ethnicity, race, class are all aspects of identity for each of us to varying degrees. For me, urban and poor were more central to my understanding of who I was than I realized. I felt so out of place to be in this beautiful, affluent area. My inner child - the one who played in dumpsters as a kid, the one with a deep sense of unentitlement - felt skittish and certain that she would not be welcome here.

I was still pinching pennies, still digging dandelions for food, still filling my home with mismatched furniture, but it is hard to identify as poor when you own a nice white house overlooking 14.5 acres of pasture and woods in one of the most idyllic parts of Vermont. A good friend who grew up a mile or so from my house said, you know everyone is going to think you are a trust fund kid. I remember the year after my parents divorce we ate oodles of noodles every night for dinner because it was 6 packages for a dollar. I remember vacuuming the carpet with a dog brush because we could not afford a vacuum. I look at this house and think a rich person must live here. But it is just me and my husband, taking a leap of faith. Still. One year later, I can say I am not poor (despite what my bank account says) because I have all of this. And I feel like I belong here.

That belonging is coming from the part of me that always felt out of place in a city. My inner child that looked at the patches of trees along the highway and felt heartbroken and nostalgic for a life lived in a hut in the woods (whether this is some past life holdover or a result of an obsession with the podlings from the Dark Crystal and and the ewoks from Star Wars I will never know).

I belong here because I have always belonged in nature. My heart sings beneath birdsong, with my hands in the dirt, smelling the countless intoxicating smells in a garden or a field. I loved it when Galileo, my cat, followed me around in a city, walking me to a cafe/bar and waiting until I left to walk me back home. But I much prefer his company in a garden. My own happiness with the gentle breeze, sunlight, long grass, and the infinity of subtle stimulation that comes from simply being alive with lots of other living things simply being alive is echoed in his upturned face, full of feline satisfaction.

One year later, I still wish for more friends and more socializing, but I am patient. I know that in my deepest heart, I want to stay here for the rest of my life. I want to let my street smarts slip away. I want to garden. I want to be. In nature.

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