When I was in high school, my #1 dream for my life was to live in NYC and be on Broadway. I dreamed about living in the city and being surrounded by people and things to do…a 24 hour circus that made you want to get up each morning and get out there.
My first year of college (when I was 21), I went to VCU and I discovered that I hated living in a city. Richmond is a small city and fairly easy to navigate compared to NYC and I hated living there. I hated trying to cross the street in traffic, I hated living across the street from a park that at the time was scary at night (it has been greatly cleaned up since then), I hated the noise and I hated the way I felt about it all. I transferred to George Mason and came home to continue school.
In the early 2000’s I had a string of jobs that took me further and further into the commuting nightmare of DC. Alexandria, Crystal City, back to Alexandria – commuting was taking longer and longer. And while I took a bus to Crystal City, my days were shorter and shorter as commuting took more and more time. And then I got a job in Chantilly. I loved the job. I hated the commute. And this is when I first started thinking about moving out of the suburbs.
When that job ended, my next job was in Tysons Corner. My worst commute to be sure. I would spend almost 3 hours a day just getting to and from work. Since my job had told me that working at home was a possibility once I had reached a year, that became my goal…to get out of the busyness and move elsewhere. It wasn’t so much about getting out of the suburbs, as it was about getting out of the DC area. It’s not like this everywhere. Its not normal. I really wanted normal.
I wanted a place where life wasn’t so rushed. Where people got out of work at a decent time and got home at a decent time. Now, I know that there are a lot of people here who commute closes to NOVA. I consider that crazy, but I get it. Its where the jobs are. But my little enclave here in Orange, feels normal. A sleepy little community in the mountains.
Transitioning here was a lot easier than I thought it would be. But it came with a side effect I had not necessarily wanted – but I had expected. I am alone a lot. I work from home and so I can be a fully functioning member of society and never leave my house Monday – Friday. I go to church on the weekends and I have friends there, but my week is very insular. And sometimes I wish I wasn’t. Its hard to explain. Its not that I am lonely exactly, but I am too comfortable at home.
I used to tease my mother that when she retired I was worried she would become a hermit. But truthfully, she is busier now than when she was working. I am the hermit. And I am not quite comfortable with it.
I love my apartment. I like my own space. I like my little town. I like no traffic and nicer people and easier getting around. But I do miss having people around me some days. I find I use the phone more at work than I used to, I call my boss more often to run things past him (which I am sure drives him nuts) and I sometimes have to just get out and drive down 15 just to get out of my house for a few minutes. I go stir crazy occasionally. In fact as I write this, I have to read it out loud – so I can hear a voice and use mine.
This is a lot closer to the life I want than what I had in NOVA. But it is not quite complete. There is still something missing. I think I know what it is, and I know the time will come when that happens. In the meantime, here I am. If you would like to visit- I welcome the company. Its beautiful here. And only about an hour and a half from Woodbridge. Come visit.