“I want to move to the country, Mommy.”
Eliana, cuddled up in my bed, as we watch Hannah Montana transform into Miley Cyrus back at her grandma’s house in Tennessee. The twang deepens. The grass shines with vibrant green. A horse gallops along the most open meadow, no end in sight.
I used to want to move to the country. In fact, at 24 I wrote a poem about how if I could rent a U-haul, I’d move my life here. Here was Staunton, Virginia, and I was on the porch with a steaming cup of coffee at Peg’s house, looking up at the mountain lift from the valley of her property.
My grad school prof read the poem and cocked his head. “You CAN rent a U-haul – for $19.99. What’s that about?”
I stayed in the city, thinking that I yearned for the country. I was young with no ties to anywhere and I could’ve moved there if I’d wanted to. Now I’m older, with three children, an ex-husband, a business, and family all over the metro area. All these things like weights tying me to where I am.
I could move to the country but then I’d have to drive a half-hour or more each day to take my kids to their wonderful school, Norup International. What do I really know about living in open fields, with animals and woods all around?
What is it about the country that pulls us? The open spaces? The absolute quiet? The supreme beauty all around? The chance to start anew and not get caught up in the busy-ness of the city?
I used to say that being an Orthodox Jew stopped me from living where I wanted to go. But I’ve removed that impediment. Now I say, when the kids are grown, or maybe when they’re ready for high school, that’s when I’ll go. And the destination gets further and further away.
I used to have a swing in my backyard from which I’d watch the nature preserve and the kids playing until snow fell. Last winter, the squirrels ate through the fabric and so I had to take it apart, limb by limb, and leave it at the curb on garbage day.
This season, no store is selling plush swings and so I have nowhere to perch.
Every so often, the memories of Peg’s farm on weekends when I lived in Washington come rolling back. We’d drink wine in glasses and sit on the carpet with our pens and notebooks in front of us. We’d read poems just-written and my grad school friends, who’d come from Pennsylvania and West Virginia and New York, would close their eyes and just listen to the way I read the words, the way they rolled off my tongue and up from my heart to put my raw emotions out for all the world to see.
Or maybe the poetry was in being there, those weekends, in taking photos at the river in Goshen and eating pancake at midnight at the Waffle House with Peg’s teenage son and his angst-filled friends.
Now her kids are parents themselves and I haven’t been there in a decade. Or longer.
A man I knew from them came calling again and then disappeared into the ether. The person I was then has returned stronger, in fullness, without the anxieties of youth and without the trappings of a decade of orthodoxy. Is it ironic that I’m dating someone who grew up in Virginia?
Eliana and I are going to the beach on Tuesday and I am ready for the moments to tumble forward, heel over toe, sand over salty water, buckets of crabs and late nights with margaritas on the porch.
Recording the moments. Living a life.