> jumping into life.


I made this list of reasons I love Vermont months and months ago, but never published it:

1. No billboards. I always forget this until we go somewhere else, and I remember how very much I hate billboards.
2. Even the greasiest diners serve real maple syrup, and you don't have to ask for it specially.
3. It's an uppity sort of place. Nobody pays attention to us, but/and we do shit like indict the president anyway. And threaten to secede, and sort of mean it.
4. Bacon.
5. Wherever you are in the state, you can get to a hiking trail within half an hour. If you don't require a trail and are willing to do some benign trespassing, you can usually get to woods within five minutes.
6. The best ice cream in the world. Really. And I don't mean Ben & Jerry's, either.
7. If you are on a dirt road, every person who drives by will wave; every person you pass walking on a dirt road will say hello.

I would like now to add:

8. Total strangers help push your car up the hill when it snows twelve inches in five hours and the plow skips your street and then,
9. Other total strangers let you park in their driveway overnight when it becomes obvious that even with the help of two high-school Nordic-ski-team boys and their mother, the car is not going to make it all the way, and then,
10. When you go back to get your car in the morning, the total stranger will have shoveled it clear and scraped off the windows.


So J got a job, and we're moving one more time but maybe (hopefully!) for the last time for a while. And this time really moving, all our stuff rounded back up, and some yet-to-be-determined house made our very own. For at least a whole year, dammit.

My job is to find us somewhere to live, and then also to find myself a job. But so far our plan is going according to, um, plan. If that surprising trend continues, by this time next week, we'll (hopefully!) be moved in somewhere and both gainfully employed.

Stability! Steady income! O, the (hopeful) joy!


When the moment came,
I found I had to carefully unbind my fingers
from the cynicism to which they clung,
had to check hard the impulse to ridicule my own misting eyes.

That part of me was sure he would be shot,
sure that the moment itself
was some sort of farce, was impossible,
would be taken from me.

But a poet read a poem, if badly,
in a moment of honor, and no-one was shot.
(Yet I still can't shake that eight-year habit
of recoiling from impending doom.)

And he can't change everything.
I know that. But he said torture, and
condemned it, and that's worth something.
Even if by now the hope doesn't come naturally,

it still comes. That's worth something.


In Vermont, thick snow muffles the ugly earth. Too much time in cities; too many hours full of billboards and bare ground and the droning monotony of the road. Two of my dear friends married each other last week in Philadelphia, and the wedding itself was very lovely and the visiting of an old life was nostalgic and fun, and I was glad and honored to be there. But the city sits poorly with me, at least as poorly as it did five years ago when I called it home. I've always been a small-town girl, and I am a country girl as well now: roads of more than two lanes in each direction make me anxious. Places where I cannot see the both sky and the ground make me anxious. A lack of trees makes me anxious if not supplanted by open space (the desert does not make me anxious).

So it is with relief that we have returned to Vermont, where billboards are outlawed and several state highways are actually rutted dirt roads. Where snow glitters sweetly in the sunlight, glitters faintly in the shadows of branches, in the marks left by passing critters. We spent several hours over mediocre beer in a brewpub in west Philly crafting a plan for our next several months, and while this plan brings us no immediate stability, it does grant definition to the instability we face. And we are home now, in this place we love, and there is snow enough to sled on and a new president who uses the word science with respect. Hope is in the air.


The clear, cold sun against the sidewalks of Asheville, North Carolina reminds me strangely of somewhere else, somewhere I know far better than this town in which I've spent perhaps six days over the course of five years. Philadelphia? Prescott? Burlington? Perhaps it's the black man shuffling past with his hood up over his ears, hands in coat pockets. Perhaps it's something about the smell of the bus grumbling as it passes. Maybe just the feel of barely-iced cement slipping slightly under my feet. I don't know what it is, but it makes me feel content, somehow.

Yesterday, after a week on the road again, J finally got sick. This is the worst part of traveling, for us: one or both of us nearly always gets sick. I think because we are blessed to eat so well most of the time, the transition into road-food - ramen and Subway and cheap fish and chips in dingy truck-stop restaurants, bags of chips and packages of candy and soda that we occasionally can't resist, coffee for breakfast five mornings out of six - our bodies revolt. So far I only feel sluggish and greasy, but J was up all night with a sour stomach, even though last night we had good fish and chips for dinner, at one of our favorite pubs.

It's a small tradition of ours, the day-long layover in Asheville. Slightly out of our way, strictly speaking, but it seems to be worthwhile. Both of us nearly went to Warren Wilson instead of Prescott College (I half-joked last night that I only made the decision as I did because he had already done so and fate left me no choice. In fact, I had been planning to go to Warren Wilson, visited both schools almost perfunctorily, having thought I'd made up my mind, and continued thinking my mind made up in favor of WW until almost the moment I signed the papers saying I'd go to Prescott.) and we both have a quiet and almost completely unexplored love of the Smoky Mountains. Or perhaps only I do; at any rate, something draws us here and something comforts us when we arrive. Despite the late-night saga of J's stomach, I think we both feel more rested this morning than in many past.

And despite even that, we are weary. Last night he moaned to me, hands on his belly, "I want to go home." And I nodded and did not say what we both knew: that we have no home to return to, for now. It is time and past time for us to go home, to cook for ourselves again, to sleep on our own pillows. But for now, we are resigned to the comforts of a lovely town and a bottle of extra-strength Tums, and the knowledge that we will make a home, somewhere, soon.