A storm was supposed to maybe come and it was hard to believe with the sky clear, the sun warm, and the birds singing. But one never knew with mountain weather. She’d seen a perfectly stunning day turn to snow in a matter of hours, and a cold rainy day given up to tea and reading turn into the perfect day for a hike. The fickleness of mountain weather appealed to her and she wondered how she’d lived down in the city for so long.
It all started when she realized she’d been duped by the system. She’d done all the things they tell you to do: get a good job, buy a good car, buy a good house. And all that did was lock you in place. You had to keep the job to pay for the car and the house. Once the car was paid off, you still had the house to pay for, so can’t quit the job. By the time the house is paid off you’ve had to get two other cars cause the cars only last about ten years apiece if you’re lucky and the mortgage is a minimum thirty. Sigh.
After her first year in her new home she’d realized she was trapped. It made it so much worse. Everything. The job she hadn’t particularly liked because a job she loathed and resented. The house she had actually loved, the house that had taken her nearly two years to purchase because of the damn bank, became an anchor. She began to see all the places she’d never live rather than all the places she could travel to. She began to see all the opportunities she’d never have rather than all the jobs she could apply for. It was a horrible downward spiral that she couldn’t seem to stop.
And then one day she decided she could actually do anything. There was literally nothing stopping her from applying for another job or selling her house and moving or taking a vacation…well, actually money prohibited her from a vacation, but the other two were doable. In fact, if she sold the house and bought a tiny house she’d be the owner immediately, with no additional payments. And if she switched her jobs to another state she could probably live in her tiny house for little to nothing on someone’s land or possibly purchase her own land.
The sky was the limit when she stopped looking down at all she had and instead played it like a businesswoman.
She began taking weekend excursions in her car to places within an hour’s drive. Then within two. She began spending more and more time in the mountains, not wanting to leave come Sunday. She relished three day weekends and holidays for the time they afforded her to be free from work and free from the city. She started returning to the same town every weekend. Began to be recognized by some of the locals as “that woman who eats here every Saturday.” People began asking her if she lived there and then asking her why not.
She took a big leap and asked her boss if there was any possibility of her working remotely. Telling him for the time being that she simply wanted to spend an additional day getting stuff done from home, especially with Fridays being so casual. It would be easier for her to concentrate without the distraction of the TGIF crowd. He gave her a trial period.
For three months she spent every Thursday at the end of her shift packing up anything she might need for the next day, and then hustling out to her car. She’d already packed her bag the night before so she could head for the mountains immediately after work. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and sometimes a holiday Monday, too! Four whole days in the mountains. And she found she simply didn’t belong anywhere else anymore.
She put her house on the market and began pouring through real estate listings in her soon-to-be-hometown. She spent her weekends now alternately seeing available properties and talking to locals about what she should know about life up there that she wouldn’t know coming from the city. Boy was that a hoot. Mountain folk had all kinds of terms for people like her, and she tried not to be offended, after all, the terms were apt and wouldn’t apply to her for long.
She learned all about winters, how much wood she’d need to get through, what kind of stoves to avoid, the merits of propane dryers. She learned all about springs, how she’d never spend a second indoors, how the bulbs bloomed: daffodils and tulips and narcissus, the benefits of going off grid to avoid power outages that were all too common. She learned all about summers, how she’d want nothing more than a covered wrap around porch to relax on, how she’d need a home with air flow, and how to make a simple pool out of tarp and hay bales. She learned all about autumns, how she should never switch to flannel sheets before Halloween, how fire season was a thing of sheer terror, and how the fiddle contest came through and for those in the know it was a thing not to be missed.
By the time her house was in escrow, she’d already informed her boss that she’d be moving and offered him a choice of keeping her on remotely or letting her go. He kept her on. She tried not to be disappointed. She set her sights on purchasing a little property she’d been eyeing for a couple months that seemed perfect, not too much yard to maintain and not too much house to clean. Perfect. By the time her house sold and she had to get her stuff out, the property she was buying was only two weeks from handing her the keys, so she stayed with a friend on their sofa. What was two weeks in a lifetime? She was following her dreams.
Moving was a snap, the easiest of all the things that would come. Easier than selling her city house and easier than buying her mountain cabin. It would be the last thing she remembered as being easy for years. The hardships started right away. In all her question asking and planning she hadn’t once thought about internet and it turned out it was no small feat to get. She tried a hot spot. Failure. The things kept overheating and more than that it couldn’t run as fast as she could type. Unacceptable.
She tried a land line. What a disaster. The landlines were literally the old school phone lines from the 80’s. Sure she had mail, but she couldn’t get it to load in less than five minutes. She was all for trying satellite but the companies all assured her there were far too many trees in the sight line, satellite wouldn’t work.
She called her boss. He accepted her less-than-two-weeks-notice.
Luckily her home and expenses, save for car fuel, were all much less than living in the city. So much so that her three month savings cushion became a six month savings cushion in the mountains. She began spending her days hiking in the morning and job searching in the afternoon. There were plenty of unskilled jobs available, the amount of available help in the town was far surpassed by the number of businesses who needed help during tourist season. She was sure she could take a job as a waitress or a shop girl, but she worried about the off season. Surely they’d cut back her hours and possibly her entire position. She wanted something steadier. A bit city-er.
She kept looking and after several months a position opened up at a local nonprofit foundation. The foundation protected the hiking trails she used every morning, and they needed someone to run the office. That was right up her alley. She’d had plenty of experiences in offices, she could easily go back to staring at a computer eight hours a day if it meant she could ride her bike to work, hell, maybe she’d sell her car completely. Her excitement grew as she awaited a response to her application.
In the meantime, winter had arrived on the mountain. Her first. Her car spent the first snow stuck in her neighbors yard because that’s as far as she could drive it up the street before the snow spun the tires and she knew it was hopeless. Whether she kept a car or not, this car would surely not do. She’d been prepared for that, but still felt unduly put upon. She suspected the job limbo had more to do with her feelings than anything.
She ran out of wood after the first month. Apparently not understanding that a chord of wood should last her in her small home at least half the winter. She’d been burning it too hot and ate right through it all. A little lesson in wood stoves from a kind neighbor and she was sorted out. But she had to buy more wood and that ate into her six months of savings.
~~~That’s one hour~~~