On the second day of the year, I awake to a gray sky. It’s been raining all night which means the six inches of snow we got Christmas night is gone. It was sixty degrees yesterday and will be near that today–this is why I decided to winter in the South.
On my Twitter profile, I describe myself with no permanent address. I’m in North Carolina right now, on a small farm about 10 miles outside of Pittsboro. That puts me centrally located in the state, but about an hour away from the bigger urban areas such as the Triad (Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point) or the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill) and maybe two hours from Charlotte.
I like North Carolina. I lived here for eight years before I moved up to New York to be with Isaac. The weather is mild (by the time you hit South Carolina, the heat is more than I can cope with) and the people are laid back. The urban areas are surprisingly sophisticated, more so than comparatively-sized cities in the Midwest. For example, Greensboro and Peoria are roughly the same size, but I found Greensboro positively cosmapolitan compared to Peoria.
However, when I originally lived here (first in the Triad and then in the Triangle) I had mixed feelings about staying. It was one more place I wound up in because a spouse moved there. I’ve lived in lots of different places, but only once was because I made the conscious choice to go there myself. Every other time, I went because my partner had a compelling reason to be there, usually a job, while my compelling reason was to be with the spouse. Once I wasn’t any more, I usually went back to Chicago.
But North Carolina had spoiled me. It wasn’t as hot as Alabama or the Florida panhandle where I’d lived before. Chicago, with its long cold midwest winters did not hold much attraction. I had made a lot of friends, too, both in the Pagan and polyamory communities. Nonetheless, once I wasn’t with the spouse who brought me here, I wondered if I should stay.
The only place I ever went to just for myself was Ashland, Oregon although even that was a bit unplanned. (I’ll tell the Ashland story another time). I spent six months there and liked it, but it wasn’t feasible for me to stay there in 1989. But in 2002, I decided I’d go back. The company I was working for back then had a branch 20 minutes up the Interstate. I decided to become a very valuable employee so they would let me transfer. Then life intervened again.
From the time I’d separated from my previous spouse, Isaac had been asking me to move in with him. I had lots of good reasons for not doing so, not the least of which was, he lived in New York, dammit. Move down here with me, I’d tell him. But he had his own compelling reason to stay where he was, in the person of his half-grown son. He didn’t want to be too far away from him.
So finally, we struck a deal. I would move up north. We’d stay for five years, at which point Stepson would be out of high school. Then we’d move somewhere warm and pleasant. Unfortunately, Stepson graduated just when the economy crashed. Our moving money fund was in the stock market. As the saying goes, you do the math. We were lucky to keep a roof over our heads, much less move anywhere. And wouldn’t you know, as our finances slowly recovered (not completely–my stock is still worth less than half of what it was in 2004, although that still beats it being less than 1/100th of what it was, which it did hit) Isaac’s health deteriorated rapidly.
When I found myself alone in New York (which I intended to leave if for no other reason than I could not afford to stay) I wasn’t sure where to go. We had been talking about Ashland for years, but without a job, no partner, and no friends there, it seemed a much more intimidating destination. Of course, the fact that I’m now one year short of sixty makes a difference too. I don’t know how many more times I’ve got it in me to start all over from scratch again.
But I have friends in North Carolina. Some I had been following on Facebook, delighting especially in Claire and Marq’s stories of life on the little farm they’d moved to after I’d moved away. I got bold and asked them if they had room for an extra person over winter. They generously said yes.
So here I am, back in the South, back in North Carolina, in the company of fourteen dogs, ten sheep, four cats, three goats, two old friends, one steer (who will soon be an ox), and a fluid number (I haven’t counted them, plus there are eggs in the incubator) of chickens, ducks and turkeys. It ain’t New York, lemme tell ya.
And I like it that way.