Oprah has this section at the end of her magazine where she shares “What I know for sure.” And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what I know, or rather what I thought I knew.
So what do I know for sure? Turns out, not a hell of a lot.
Growing up in London, Ontario, Canada, I never for one moment thought I would be here. In this cabin. In the woods. Curled up in front of a fire, the Blue Ridge mountains framing the double doors behind me. I never even dreamed I would live on this side of the border. Even when we lived in a city shared a border with the US, it always felt so exotic when we exited our home country and explored the “other side.”
Today, though I will always be Canadian, I proudly carry a U.S. passport.
What I DO know for sure? Never say never.
Two years ago, when we traded in the cul-de-sac two-story for the condo in the “big city,” I thought I knew exactly what the next 10 or so years would look like. By downsizing our life, we gave ourselves more room to explore. We would walk to local bars, restaurants and coffee shops. We would take in the outdoor concerts on the square and take cooking classes. We would sit on our new patio, sipping manhattans and waving to neighbors passing by. We would visit museums, stroll through art shows and make our own wine at the you-brew.
And we did. We do.
When we moved to the condo, we were moving away from a time of our life. The suburbs were where we raised our kids. And with that chapter coming to an end, it made complete sense to move out of the big house and into the city where we could explore what’s next.
And I thought I knew. I thought I had it all figured out.
We would live in the city, in the condo, doing all those cool things that city people do. I would learn to love the sounds of the city. The trains. The buses. The sirens. The people, laughing right outside my window. And I did. I fell in love with life in the city, really fast.
So the plan was to spend the next 10 years or so here.
And yet, here I am.
In a cabin in the woods.
At the condo, we don’t have to rake leaves or fix the roof. We don’t even have to cut the grass. Our lifestyle is exactly where we said we wanted it to be at this stage: maintenance-free. Dave can spend his Sundays working on his photography or taking in a round of golf. It’s perfect. And yet…
Yesterday we spent four or more hours chopping down trees and dragging branches and twigs across the yard to our fire pit–in the cabin in the woods. Dressed in steel-toed boots, (mountain) Dave stacked wood, filled bird feeders, dug out weeds and explored the woods that surround our cabin.
We bought the cabin this past summer and have spent almost every weekend here since signing the papers. Just 90 minutes from our condo, the cabin was meant to be a great weekend getaway for us, but more importantly, we bought it as an investment property. A vacation rental. It will pay for itself, we decided. And yet, here it is almost November and we’ve yet to send over the paperwork that puts Sunset Serenity (sleeps 8, with incredible mountain views) into the rental program.
We love our cabin.
We love the quiet. We love the trees and the seclusion.
We love the town of Blue Ridge, with shops filled with bear toilet paper holders and rustic wood furniture. We love that all the amenities we could ever want — including a lake and marina — are 15 minutes from us, and yet when we’re here, tucked away in the woods on this dead-end street, we feel so far from everything. We love that the stars are so bright, without the city lights competing with them.
We love watching the birds peck at the new feeder, eyeing us as we rock on the porch. We love it when the deer tiptoe through the woods.
And never get tired of these sunsets…
And I could go on. Point is: It’s a place that I would never have thought I could feel so at home. It was not in my plan.
So do I know for sure that we’ll retire here one day? Well, you never know. What I do know for sure is that nothing is “for sure.” I’m always surprised. So, I’ve decided that I should stick to making very short term plans – like, what I’m doing next weekend, versus where I will live in 10 years, or two. For now, I’m paying attention to all of it — learning a little more every day about what might be next.
And enjoying every minute of our cabin in the woods.