There was an annoying pinging sound coming from the back of my car as I drove away from the place we spent 10-weeks in quarantine in upstate New York, three hours from where we live fulltime. We had decided to head out of the New York metropolitan region, about two weeks before the lockdown started, and before city dwellers started their exodus from the city.
The light pinging turned into a more insistent banging, so I pulled over. When I came around the back to look, I had to laugh; the culprit was the gas cap tethered to the car. After gassing up, glasses fogged by my mask, trying to remember which glove touched what surface and trying not to touch anything to do with the card swipe or my face, I had forgot all about the gas cap. I realized I had last filled up over two months ago!
My husband and I loved our time in rural Greene County. What’s not to love? The past 10 weeks we hiked daily, read books, cooked, did zoom exercise classes, binged Netflix shows, watched movies on demand and ate dinner by the fire. Each day we made a point to get out and explore the region on foot, or by car.
On one of our rides we found a sleepy little town 15 miles northwest of where we were living. Driving around the back roads we discussed our vision of the future. (You can see photos on my Instagram account @wheresmyothersock.) As we drove, each bend in the road exposed yet another beautiful mountain vista, we both voiced: Could this be the place where we could spend our retirement years? My husband retired two years ago after 35 years of commuting to New York City, from Long Island, an hour and forty minutes each way, daily. That’s a lot of living spent with the masses on public transportation.
I decided to close my public relations business at the same time, to take up creative writing and tackle several manuscripts I wanted to write. As I looked around the location spoke to my creative vision.
This was a big step. My husband really enjoys Long Island, a New Yorker from the word go, he would stay here for the rest of his life. We live on the beach, in a boating community. We had found the spot we had vowed to never leave. Our kids grew up boating and fishing and we had made great friends.
Yet, I was restless. And had been for a while.
I’m a New Englander. Grew up outside of Boston and spent most of my formidable years in rural ski town in New Hampshire. That sort of living sang to my soul. The New York lifestyle never suited my personality and I always felt a little like a turnip that fell from a truck, never fitting in all that well.
So, on this day I had found a house on my Trulia app and suggested gently, that perhaps, just perhaps it would be fun to take a peek. What’s the harm in looking I suggested? Right?
As we crested the top of last mountain road that would bring us to the house, the valley below blew us away. There, at the bottom were large ponds, a horse farm, a cross country ski center and the house I had found on Trulia, in the middle of it all. We both fell in love before we pulled into the driveway.
We looked in the windows, it was clear no one was living there as we walked around the property. We were sold on a three car barn for all our stuff, and a babbling brook to sit by. In my mind it was perfect, and I was glad my husband was the first to say, “Let’s call the realtor, I could see us here.”
When we reached the realtor, we discovered all the details to make an offer and took each step to do so. We began to have high hopes for this next stop in our lives; a home in the mountains surrounded by farms and neighbors who rode horses. What’s not to love?
Three days later we made an offer. Change was coming at us in warp speed, this was something we talked about but never really put into motion.
Then the counteroffer came back and the following day we had a deal.
What? It’s that simple. Yes, that part was.
Now to pack up our memories. This will be hard.
When we got back to Long Island, we let our adult children know our plans. Our decision was met with sadness, but we realized it was time to move on for many reasons. The biggest reason was; new adventures ahead. After thirty-years on Long Island it was time to exchange the predictable, with a sense of excitement for the unknown.
I guess being in quarantine for 10 weeks will create that need to push boundaries, after not being able to. I’m not alone in this feeling. When I put my beach house on the market, I spoke to many couples who came through from Manhattan, doing the same thing, finding a new adventure and leaving city life behind. Realtors are calling it a mass exodus; they can’t fuel the demand for housing. Our house on Long Island went into contract in 5 days. Upstate the same thing is happening, people want more space and a new place to belong to.
Next week if all goes as planned, we embark on this next stage. The list of improvements is long, as the house has been long vacant. We embrace it with a sense of wonder we haven’t felt in a long time.
I can hear my soul singing again.