Friday, May 2, 2008

We're leaving home: Quakers on the Road to Barnesville

I haven't known how to approach this subject because there's so much to say.

Roger, my husband, has accepted a job, with my support, as technical coordinator at Olney Friends School in Barnesville, Ohio.

In some ways, this is a dream come true. How many times have I said "I'm going to get away from all this and go live in that cabin in Maine"? I remember when we vacationed in "Down East" Maine two summers in a row, near Machais ("near" meaning 40 miles away), I thought how wonderful it would be to live there. No subdivisions. Lots of empty space. Fresh air. A simple life.

Barnesville is very much like that--no subdvisions, rolling hills, empty space-- with the added bonus of the Stillwater Friends Meeting nearby. Quakers, in general, seem to travel through and to the area fairly often.

We will live in a small white cottage on campus, on the other side of a pond from the main buildings. Roger will walk to work. It will be the first time we have not lived in a subdivision, apartment or city. We will have a barn next to the house. On the lower level of the barn, a farmer keeps his cows.

We will drink well water. We will take our meals on campus and the kids will attend the school. We're happy that they will be getting a Quaker education, small class sizes and more contact with nature. When we visited, the ninth grade humanities class got up in the middle of their session to go gather eggs from the henhouse. Other students were making maple syrup.

On the other hand, leaving the place we've lived all our lives is frightening. We're leaving friends, families, our network, our known world. I will have to restart my freelance writing career. We're old enough to know that there are no nirvanas. We know that no matter how far you go, you can't escape yourself. We also know that change, even good change, means loss, and loss means grief.

While we are being given use of a house, utilities and meals, we have partial tuitions to pay for our children, and much less cash compensation than we're used to. In my more spiritually-centered moments, I don't worry about the money at all and even feel grateful that we'll be living more simply. In my more worldly moments I am on the edge of panic: what if we run out of money? What if I can't find work?

Part of me simply can't fully comprehend that we're leaving. Three months. How can we get our house here rented, our stuff moved? Why do we have so much stuff?

I'm grateful for the Quaker community and the way it stretches into Barnesville. I'm grateful for all the support our current meeting has offered. The Quaker community is like an extended family. And I know this move will stretch us in ways that are good if painful. I have faith that this will all work out, even if in ways we can't imagine.

For another post: How did we get to the point we could do this?

1 comment:

Bill Samuel said...

We in this area will greatly miss you, but I can certainly appreciate this move. And maybe it will help get me back out to Barnesville.

Barnesville carries a certain mystique in Quaker circles, but don't over-romanticize it.