Please don't get me wrong, Boston is a great city, with a lot to offer. Salem has quite an active arts scene for its size, especially on the literary front (shout outs to my writing group and the folks behind Salem Writers and the Mass Poetry Festival). I worked with an inspiring group of people who were doing good things in the world at the Housing Partnership Network. And I made some friends during our two years there who I will keep for life (hopefully you know who you are!). But the pace of things was just a little too hectic for both of us, and Boston, as close as it was, was hard to get to without feeling like you'd fought your way through. For both of us it seemed like everything was a little too draining, too much of a struggle, and we didn't have enough reserves left at the end of the day to get out and do the things we loved.
So, we traveled around, and kept our eyes out for places that might work for us. We found ourselves consistently drawn to the areas around Burlington, Vermont and Portland, Maine. Both had a lot of things in common- beautiful natural settings, smaller cities that were easy to get into and out of and get around in, but cultural scenes more like a big city in terms of art, music, literary happenings, events and food. Of the two, Burlington was better for access to New York, had a lot of resources around local-food and food-justice issues Abbey is passionate about, and I ka-loved the lake and mountain combination. (Ka-loving is like "loving", but with a "ka-bam!" added). So I started a Vermont-centered job search in the Spring of this year that I honestly thought might take a while- a year, maybe more. But, I've observed in life that when something is ready to happen, it can unfold in a hurry. And so a July interview resulted in being totally up and moved by the end of August.
The verdict so far? I love it here! Abbey does too, although of course she can tell you about that herself. A few examples of the why's and wherefores of my new-found love:
13th-largest lake in the United States. However, if you read the fine print, you'll discover that two of those are man-made lakes, two of those are saltwater lakes, and one of them is in Alaska. So I like to think of it as the eight-largest naturally occurring freshwater lake in the lower 48. And also possibly home to...
Champ is -a surviving pleisosaur? a relict zeuglodon? a giant sturgeon? a trick of the light and standing waves? Whatever. Put me near a possible cryptid, and I'm happy. Now to get a kayak and take up diving so I can find him! Her?
Green Mountain National Forest (where Abbey and I found this handsome-looking fellow) as well as a wealth of State Parks, and the aforementioned Adirondack Park just across the bridge in New York. Nearly every weekend we've been tromping out somewhere. Including this weekend, when we went to North Hero State Park to take part in a beach cleanup to protect the habitat of baby turtles. I mean, come on, baby turtles is practically worth it's own entry!
Middlebury College. Which, besides meaning I get to work with really nice people and see ridiculously pretty views like this every work day, also means I'm part of a fantastic, creative and progressive community. Founded in 1800, Middlebury was the first university in America to accept African-Americans, and one of the first to admit women on a co-educational basis. It reminds me of some of the things I missed about working at the Exploratorium. There are lectures, films and performances going on all the time, and there's even a museum where I can visit Assyrian reliefs, mummies, classical statues and centuries of painting for lunch.
Since getting to town, I've also started to become a regular participant in the ongoing writing feedback workshops held by the Burlington Writer's Workshop, where people get together every week to provide critical (in the helpful sense) feedback on pieces submitted by local writers. Anybody who's attended at least one session can sign up to have their work reviewed at a future one.
I could go on, but the point is, being here seems like it might just work out okay. I'll keep you posted on how it's going!