With time speeding past us, can you even remember what you were doing or what your mindset was a year ago? Do you still have the same aspirations or did those fall by the wayside of the massive changes happening on the planet?
A year ago today, I was 20K wealthier than I am now. I lived in a temporary rental on Whidbey Island planning a relocation to Vermont, which I didn’t think would actually manifest. Only it did, but then it slipped away from me. I ended up moving to Pennsylvania, a state I had never given much thought to in the past, except for 1976, when the US celebrated its 200 Year Birthday and we sold miniature cracked Liberty Bells door to door to pay for sixth grade camp. Then in the early 1990s, I was friends with an editor from Philadelphia. I’d look her up except she died in December of 1995.
However, in March of 2022, I had no idea how I was going to ship my belongings to Brattleboro, Vermont or how I was going to get my body there. Instead of working with clients, which is what I should have been doing, I spent my days searching the internet for ride shares, and professional drivers (which I couldn’t afford). And then halfway through March, I settled on booking private rooms on Amtrak even though I wasn’t looking forward to being stuck on the first train for 44 hours and the second train for 24 hours, and then getting released in Springfield, Massachusetts (I don’t think Dr. Seuss would appreciate the serious decline of his home town).
At the time of my departure, I had lollipop visions of Vermont. I knew the postcard perfect version which I gleaned from watching videos of Woodstock, Montpelier, and Burlington (during the holidays) videos that must have been produced by the Hallmark Channel or Disney because the scenarios that appeared in those videos were pre-pandemic and nothing like what I encountered when I arrived in Brattleboro the first week of April–tragic as far as the human condition.
After spending six months in Vermont, I gave up seeking a rental. I had given it my best effort and I met some fabulous people and experienced dangerous situations along the way. I was fortunate to have YouTube subscribers and friends who donated funds to keep me in vacation rentals and hotel rooms, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here writing this post. Living in Vermont costs me over $10K of my own money and then around 3K in donations and money from my family and friends.
At first, I kicked myself because I didn’t heed the warning of a psychic in Washington State, the only psychic who told me the dark truth of what I was going to encounter in Vermont. The other psychics waxed on about golden opportunities awaiting me in Vermont and how my life would change for the better. People were going to love and appreciate me in Vermont. Not really. They were friendly but I’m pretty sure they grew tired of me. The novelty of the animal communicator from Washington State wore thin. I also had friends who added butter and maple syrup to my faulty dream but here were the more practical (and fearful) folks who warned me not to go.
However, Vermont was not a complete bust. I salvaged treasures from my experiences. I wrote articles for magazines and newspapers. I traveled to places I hadn’t been before such as Chicago, villages and cities in Vermont, and took the train throughout Massachusetts. I also believe that dreams don’t always work out the way we hoped they would but we can still gain wisdom from the fallout.
And what would have been the alternative, that I stayed in Washington State without being able to find a rental there? I needed to travel. I needed to get out and see the country where I reside even if I landed in a Mid-Atlantic state where I’m barely getting through my first winter in the Northeast. And the folks here tell me that this is a mild winter. I made the mistake of moving to the town with the most annual snowfall in the entire state. Oddly, I’ve seen more ice than snow and the snow that is present is brown from the deicing sand and gravel.
And here’s what I learned along the way. Similar to Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I learned that there is no place like home, but home is the soul and not a place. Our souls asks us to do crazy things sometimes because souls desire expansion through learning curves. I also learned that the grass is not greener somewhere else, although Vermont is one of the greenest places I’ve ever visited outside of the UK. I keep meeting people who think they will be happier somewhere else.
Everywhere I go I encounter restlessness in people. They complain about crime in their cities or drug problems. But that’s everywhere. And the more we focus on it (something I did too much of when I was in Brattleboro), the more we encounter it. If we want to heal the world, start where we are and open our hearts to spreading love and peace. There is no other way. Running away never solves anything. Mindful relocation works if it’s meant to. It’s not something you can force to happen.
What I can say about Vermont is it’s too left-of-center for my tastes but the people there are kind and caring. They tend to cook and eat fresh-off-the-farm food and the farmer markets are incredible places. Vermont does small towns better than any state, but then, Vermont is mostly villages and small cities. Somehow Brattleboro could make 10,000 people seem larger than it was. Vermont has its share of authors, artisans, gourmet chefs, and scenic views that left me thinking I had ascended to heaven. The hummus I bought in Brattleboro alone was celestial.
But the state also has its share of ticks, biting blackflies, mosquitoes, loud cars without mufflers (yep, even in the villages), and lack of rental housing (because too many rentals had been converted into vacation homes and wealthy New Yorkers and Bostonians bought the housing stock). The cost of living is too high per annual income of the average Vermonter which led to high levels of apathy. The youth tend to leave for more exciting cities (preferably in a warmer state) thus abandoning their grandparents and great grandparents in the wake of a dying economy.
Vermont was only a chapter in my life and a short one at that. I doubt anyone will remember me except for a handful of people. Even though I moved to Vermont to work as an animal communicator, I only had one Vermonter sign up for my service. I didn’t live the dream but it doesn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t. We’re all different and someone might have moved to Pennsylvania and ended up in Vermont. Life is crazy that way. The funny thing is when I first landed in Erie, I visited Wegman’s in Mill Creek and the cashier said that I was the second person she had come through her line (in a matter of minutes) that relocated to Erie from Vermont. Who was that person?
I still don’t know why I’m in Pennsylvania and I feel invisible or as if I don’t exist any longer. I’m not depressed or apathetic, but I’m experiencing existentialist angst. I’m recovering from Lyme so I have my good days and my awful (what the hell am I doing?) days. I hope to do some traveling throughout Pennsylvania because I would like to check out the architecture and photograph Mid-Atlantic wildlife. I don’t know the bigger picture yet. Perhaps, I’m in the right place at the right time. And I still need to take my camera to Erie and photograph my favorite haunts in that city. I’m thankful that I’m a lifelong learner and I enjoy traveling because I clocked in nearly 90 hours of long-distance train time.
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The following photos are from Brattleboro, Wilmington and Montpelier, Vermont as well as, Plymouth and Boston, Massachusetts.