Since the beginning of this pandemic shutdown, I’ve been doing the same thing every day, like so many of you have. Nothing much has changed for me, day to day, since everything changed earlier this year. Coffee, computer, garden, walk, laundry, tv, sleep. Maybe a podcast or a zoom in there somewhere. There’s no FOMO because there’s nothing to MO.
I will admit that I basically buried my head in the sand for a bit. I did not know how to deal with the fact that my travel business was coming to a grinding halt, along with, well, the whole world. My business partner and I quickly rescheduled Jeneen’s Morocco yoga tour from May to November (crossing our fingers that things may open up a little and countries will let Americans in by then). My trips to India and Mongolia evaporated. We spent some time strategizing for when travel opens up again, but we are still pretty far away from a time when people will willingly get on a plane for 6 hours, let alone 20.
But everybody’s already written about that and we are ALL living it so let’s talk about something exciting. Exciting for me, anyway.
I dusted off my old law degree and started doing some legal work to pay the bills in the meantime. It’s not exciting.
What IS exciting is this: I’m buying a house on the river. In the country. Far from the city, on the Northern Neck — a quiet section of Virginia between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers. I’ll be just down the street from my sister and her kids, and not far from my mom’s river house where I spent summers growing up, and where I still go whenever I can.
I’m excited and I’m terrified. Excited at the prospect of fixing up a house and having my own place on the water, after years of sleeping on the pull-out sofa at my mom’s river house. I’m excited about being close to my sister and her wife and their kids. I’m excited about making a place my own after renting for a couple of years. I’m excited to have something to write about.
But yes, I’m also terrified. Terrified at the prospect of moving away from friends. Terrified about the prospect of culture shock moving from a large urban area to a town of maybe 100 people in a county of fewer than 10,000 people. Am I going to find friends there? Will I miss the diversity of the DC area? Is this going to be a money pit? I’m pretty sure the answer to all of those questions is ‘Yes,” but I’m doing it anyway.
Overcoming culture shock is what I’ve built this blog about, really. Going to new places and finding the commonality with the humans you meet there. Appreciating the differences while embracing the similarities.
I’m already getting a taste for one aspect of my new life: there are no secrets in a small town. The house I’m buying never went on the market; my realtor reached out to the owners just when they had decided to sell. And while it’s under contract, I’ve been keeping my purchase quiet. My realtor called me one day to tell me that when she arrived at the house to put a lockbox on for the contractors, there were neighbors poking around asking her what she knew about the house. They had heard that someone from Northern Virginia (already pegged as a foreigner!) was buying it and was a sister of a neighbor. A few days later, my sister was walking around the property and ran into another neighbor – the neighbor who had already told the owners on the street that he would like to buy their houses if they ever wanted to sell – who asked if she knew whether the house was on the market. My sister feigned ignorance. Finally my realtor called me and asked if the sellers could tell the next door neighbors. I debated, and then thought, “Why not?” I’ve got a ratified contract and the news would come out eventually. My sister, sitting next to me, said “I want to tell them!” and she quickly called two neighbors. And they called two friends. And so on. And so on.
So now the news is out. I’m moving to the river.