May the Forest Be With You.
I see this bumper sticker a lot now. The first time I just thought “oh, Asheville” but now I’ve been here long enough, I kinda get it – didn’t take too long to get hippified in the mountains of western North Carolina.
Five months. It’s been 5 months plus a week or so since we drove all night from Chicago to the Black Mountains and arrived at our rented round house in the trees, a wooden mushroom popping out of the side of the mountain. I haven’t written much, I thought briefly of keeping a better diary, either privately or online of the process, but frankly I was too tired, too shell-shocked, too overwhelmed by it all. 2012 was a pretty intense year, with doing shiatsu school, getting married, moving cross-country (which involved, essentially, moving twice – once at the end of August out of our Chicago apartment down to Berwyn, again in January from the midwest to the south). Lots of change, and when we finally landed, I slept a lot, a LOT. I slowly put together all the things I needed to apply for my license to start a shiatsu practice, which involved studying for and taking the MBLEx, then completing a giant packet of paperwork. Now I sit and wait all summer for the Board to get back to me, the time estimated is 60 business days (which means 3 months, not two, as it might seem at first glance).
Five months isn’t that long, in the scheme of things, and I say I am bad at change, but I think what I really mean is that I’m bad at not having a home, a routine, a community, I get disoriented, so I do scouting missions for my new life – long late night drives all over back country roads with the dog in tow while my wife is out of town for a week. I look inside the windows of house, this nothing new, I’ve always looked inside others homes and felt the draw into a life, a longing to know and belong. Five months isn’t that long, but here are things I’ve done:
Gone hiking as many times this year as I have my entire life. Same with seeing waterfalls. Same with birds. Adapted my lungs to higher elevation, more oxygen. Found a handful of friends I get excited to see, who are easy to talk to, and enjoy the same hijinks or adventures as me. Eaten amazing food, as much of it cooked by myself or my wife as made by restaurants. Drank beer that is so delicious I crave it later, a feeling I’ve only previous experienced with wines or whiskeys. Gone to a full moon party in the woods, alternating between dancing on the grass or laying on my back, feeling the bass through the ground and watching stars appear overhead. Slid down my first sliding rock. Rediscovered springtime flowers. Also the pupil-dilating pleasure of a dangerously good sweet tea, chicken biscuit, or smoked meat. Produced, hosted, and read at a successful queer reading event. Sat in the front row of another reading where Clay Aiken made a guest appearance and sang “Both Sides Now.” Caught up on a lot of rest. Remembered how to read books and watch movies that require paying attention and a little bit of my brain.
Starting over is not easy, but neither is standing still. Basically everything is hard sometimes, and while I might frequently thump on myself for not going fast enough, doing enough, being enough, when I take a moment to recall the good things, to put it in perspective, I manage to back off for a moment and marvel that I got anything done at all, much less so much good. I still flounder about money and the preparation steps needed to get a new business off the ground, I still don’t always know who I want to be and how to get there, but then I sit and drink coffee, looking out on the mountains, the valley, the trees all around our deck, and everything recedes for a bit, because I am in the woods and that, if everything else is in flux, feels right.