After living in NYC for 5 wonderful and stressful years I quit my job, abandoned my apartment, and moved into a new car with my partner. I love the city but the nonstop surround sound of advertisements, consumerism, materialism, and work-aholic-ism was truly wearing me down. I felt trapped on the island, away from the mountains and forests and rivers. My work hours were too many and though I did my best to stave off the flood of anxiety with herbs and a few yoga and meditation sessions a week it wasn't enough. I wanted to live somewhere I could be connected to nature again and reclaim my time and myself. My partner and I were inspired by The Good Life Lab, Ishmael, and The Dispossessed to leave the city and try something radically different. We wanted to land anywhere beautiful and just start living the way we actually wanted to, tuned in to the Mother Earth and tuned out from Mother Culture, instead of the other way around.
After we left New York we camped and hiked in every national park west of the Mississippi that we could get to in 4 months, over two dozen in all. It was challenging, beautiful, freeing. In the few pockets of untouched and ancient forests we found I marveled and realized that the forests I grew up in and loved were incredibly young. In Utah, on top of a rock shaped like a mushroom and the size of a house we were able to see every single star and the bright, dense flash of the milky way. We witnessed and understood the reality of the drought in California, found silent meadows at the tops of mountains, and camped with chattering teeth in the cloud that is coastal Oregon. It was amazing.
And after all we explored, with our hearts set on living out West or perhaps near friends outside Nashville-- we ended up in Columbus, Ohio. Originally it was just to temporarily be near an ailing family member. Then I found my herbalism program. The prospect of starting a new chapter near family seemed much easier than starting a new chapter in Vermont or California where all of the other herbal programs are. I took a job at an apothecary in the city so I could learn even more and practice what I was studying. It's a strange shift from the intense work I was doing before, but I really enjoy it.
We live closer to the earth than we did in New York, but it still feels too far. We are not yet living in the countryside, off the grid, self-sustained because it's important that I study herbalism. We do live in a beautiful school building that was built in the 1800s and has been converted into artists' work and live-in studios. We have a garden. We have window boxes to fill with herbs. We belong to a wonderful, warm community. We know the farmers who grow our food. And yet from our window, just beyond the rows of houses, we can see the highway. The faint groan and grind of the cars on asphalt is continuous, but I guess at least we can see something from our windows other than another NYC apartment's brick wall for now.