Of all the places I have lived and all the places I thought I wanted to live, I find myself wanting to pinch myself these days, to make sure this isn’t a dream. This is really real.
In 1955 my family took a vacation to the Great Smokey Mountains. Although I was a mere five years old, I still remember so many things about that trip. Including my first viewing of a black bear and being scared to death. He didn’t look friendly like Smokey the Bear. I had my photo taken with a real Native American.
Skip forward twenty-four years and I find myself living in Alabama and spending days off from work in Tennessee and Georgia. I had my photo taken by the very same cannon on top of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee all those years ago.
Time marches on, as someone once said. The years passed by, along with a husband or two, until I met a man that allowed me to feed my wanderlust. He understood when I said let’s move to Virginia. Never said a word when I said, “I’m moving us to Montana.” And when the time came for us to move to Arizona to take care of his mother, I was all in.
Then came the time when we needed to make a plan on where we wanted to retire. The plan had been to move back to Montana. Both of us truly love Montana in all her grandeur. We left family and friends behind when we left, yet something was holding us back from making the decision to return.
Maybe it was a calling from our past or a seed that had been planted a long time ago. Whatever it was, the Southeast kept calling our names. One day, we made the decision to head east and take a look around our old stomping grounds. Even though it was the dead of winter and we was caught in the middle of an ice and snow storm, we made it. After spending a week in a cabin in the north Georgia mountains, we started wondering why we had ever left. We left Georgia after making an offer on a house and making plans on selling our house in Arizona.
After all the miles and years on this gal, I finally feel at peace with myself. There is a calmness within me that I’m not sure I have ever felt. A peaceful, thankful, and joyful presence from within. If I believed in reincarnation I would argue that I was a mountain man in my former life.
I will not sit and wonder why I didn’t move here years ago. I believe if I had, I might not appreciate this place. I would not have found the peace I have found. My wish would be that everyone, everywhere, could somehow experience what I have found, sometime during their life.