Asheville: Two-Months Post-Move

River Arts District, AshevilleRiver Arts District, Asheville

Several months ago I wrote about our wanderings, a life-time together moving across the United States, up and down the state of California, and finally settling in Boulder, Colorado. And then the pandemic hit in early spring 2020, with stay-at-home orders, interruptions to travel, and the inability to engage in-person with friends and family. Instantly, the world changed, and with it, our ideas about the meaning of home. For all the different and sometimes conflicting reasonings that formed our decision to move to North Carolina, ultimately, it came down to a simple proposition: “Family is my top priority, which at this juncture means disruption to my life, my community, my deep friendships, my daily activities.”

Two months post-move, we are living in a condominium in Asheville, North Carolina, a temporary space as we contemplate longer-term plans. Alex spent almost a month with us in between his obtaining a student French visa for a Master’s Program at the Sorbonne in Paris and meeting the strict travel requirements to enter France, which he was finally able to do in early September.Alex and Sami, ParisAlex and Sami, Paris

Christopher and his family are in Durham, NC, for the school year, where he is a fellow at the National Humanities Center, writing his third philosophy book. Kate is on sabbatical, focusing on two works in her field of study, Chinese and Vietnamese relations. The grandkids are ensconced in an outdoor-focused preschool and transitional kindergarten, only a block from their house. Each separate move has been an adventure but for now, I can take a deep breath, knowing where each of my sons and their families are in place.

What I predicted in June has proven true: distancing from my friends, colleagues, and philanthropic groups; the end of my almost-daily running on the Boulder Creek trail; no afternoon walks to Pearl Street for coffee and a scone. I miss the views of the Flatirons and Flagstaff Mountain from my house; the greetings to neighbors when I gathered the mail; the meetings with incredible women and men who work tirelessly to make our community and state a better place to survive and thrive; the comfort of routine and familiarity.

I have a “soft” formula for creating community in new towns (Austin, TX, Sonoma, CA, Boulder, CO, now Asheville, NC): join a women’s collective giving circle (to learn about the area’s non-profit organizations and meet women who share a commitment to helping women and girls); find a book club (again, another way to meet people and expand my reading horizon); engage a Gyrotonics’ instructor for my physical well-being; find a place for swimming (here, the local YMCA); learn about local running trails (more difficult for now as I’m still recovering from a stress fracture in my right foot). Of course, all the “administrative” things of life needed attention, too: finding a doctor, a dentist, a massage therapist, an optometrist, a favorite grocery store, an independent book store, registering to vote, getting a new driver’s license, changing addresses for banks, insurance, family and friends, the list goes on.Looking upward, Biltmore forest

Looking upward, Biltmore forest where our new home will be built

Moving in the time of COVID has its positive attributes, as our in-person gatherings were limited in Boulder when we left in early August, leaving me frustrated with FaceTime calls with friends only a few miles away and the uncertainty of travel to our family. I didn’t think about the other end of the move, the lack of happenstance gatherings, planned coffees with new acquaintances (most of whom, for now, I’ve only met through Zoom meetings), serendipitous meetings, or chance conversations in a new city would make for long, sometimes lonely, days. Yet, for the downsides, the reality of this move grabs me in the face: we are fortunate, we are healthy, we have choices, we are doing what I wanted, which is to see my charming, active, body-hugging grandkids as often as I like, and perhaps, to help others along the way in this green, gorgeous, tree-filled corner of the country.Evening sky, Asheville.

Evening sky, Asheville.

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