This I Believe

Jimmie - West Fork, Arkansas
Entered on February 6, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
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I Believe You Can Come Home Again

I believe, unlike Thomas Wolfe, that you can come home again. Four winters ago I was in Pittsburgh, PA, staring out at the sixth week of snow falling on a Sunday night, just in time to have to navigate it Monday morning on the way to work. I announced to my husband, “If I thought I had to live here the rest of my life, I’d kill myself.”

Now I live on a mountain in the Ozarks, my spiritual home. If I have snow, I deal with it the southern way: stay home and wait for it to melt.

I first saw the Ozark Mountains years ago when I drove to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for a graduate school interview. When I got off Interstate 40 and began the drive up old Highway 71, with its hairpin turns and breathtaking views of distant mountaintops, I simply fell in love.

Since my husband and I are both academics, getting from Pittsburgh back to Arkansas took a great deal of planning and a huge leap of faith. During the next year he found a new position at Stephens College in Missouri. I stayed behind and put our 1920’s house on the market during January, the absolute worst time to sell a house in Pittsburgh.

That month 46 inches of ice, sleet, snow, and sludge fell, and I sometimes shoveled the sidewalks three times a day, muttering under my breath, “I hate snow, I hate snow, I hate snow,” like a litany. I also had to be very careful to keep the ice and snow off our downward sloping driveway, so an unsuspecting buyer would not know what a hassle it could be.

All of the shoveling paid off. I received an offer on the house within a month.

The next step was to find a house in the Ozarks. I flew down in February and was thrilled to see the forsythia already in bloom. Our kind realtor kept the best house for last. She drove down a gravel road and turned up a steep drive. Before me was a small house setting almost on top of a mountain, with a large open yard surrounding it and woods behind. It looked perfect. Then I walked into the house. It had a big, open living room and kitchen painted yellow and lots of windows. Since the day was so sunny, the house almost glowed. I had found my home.

The leap of faith was finding work that suits me. I now teach yoga two evenings a week to a wonderful group of people in West Fork who have become my friends. I also teach composition at the community college to the freshmen who helped me with this paper.

Now I live on a mountain in the Ozarks. When the evenings are mild, my dogs and I sit on the porch and watch the sun setting behind the next mountain. It is always dramatic, with vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges. I listen to the birds singing and smile. I came home again.