In Which Mr. 70 Percent Moves Me

GetImageI’ve had a lot to process. Mr. 70 Percent has gone all out and gotten himself a new job. In Vermont. And so our gradual withdrawal from civilization continues. We left the New York area in 2005, beaten down by three kids, years of train commuting, and the inescapable ghosts of 9/11. We landed on the green and cultured north shore of Massachusetts, a quick 30-minute drive from downtown Boston. Sure, we had to make a few adjustments–all that Red Sox paraphernalia!–but overall the transition was quite smooth.

120921-canada-maple-leafNow, for the first time, we will be living not in a city or a suburb, but in a town. With a college! And an independent movie theater AND bookstore–you know, the kind of place I have always fantasized about settling. Only now that it’s become a reality, I don’t actually want to go. Partly that’s because change is hard, and we’re leaving a place I love, and the seasons up there are defined primarily by cold, mud, or big-city leaf peepers. But I’m also worried about the small and remote factor. After all, we are moving to a state whose entire population is almost exactly the same size as Boston’s. A state so small it warrants only three electoral college votes (though in the plus column, it re-elected Obama by the biggest margin of any state in the union). A state without a single Target, Apple store, or Whole Foods (though I’ve been assured that Vermont’s whole-food markets blow the chain away.) When we move, we will need  passports to visit the nearest big city: Montreal. We will live among people invariably described as either “nice” or “really1333524664593_4768306 nice”–a characteristic I consider about as useful in a good friend as “left-handed” or “argyle-sock-wearing.” When we drove around with a realtor just to get a feel for the area, pedestrians on the rural back roads routinely waved at us. “Do you know them?” I asked her. “No,” she replied cheerfully. “Everyone’s just friendly!”

That I find such answers unsettling no doubt says more about me than about Vermont–mainly that I’m fearful that none of those nice, friendly folks will like cranky, cynical me. And that as a solidly middle-aged woman with a peripatetic career and three increasingly independent children, I already feel peripheral enough without moving to the far reaches of New England. Also, that I’m a big, fat baby.

Perhaps I should take a lesson from my children, who accepted the news of our impending move with calm good cheer and a spirit of adventure. For our eldest, who will graduate high school in June, the move coincides 39beautifully with her own next chapter, whatever it may be: college or gap year, west coast or east, U.S. or overseas. Our 14-year-old outdoorsman, always seeking a thrill, sees nothing but promise in the Green Mountains. Only our little one, 10, instantly teared up at the news. Unlike the older two, she doesn’t remember living anywhere else. Through her sniffles, she asked with a smile, “Am I coming, too?” This was a joke: as we have reminded her countless times, that was the question she innocently posed the last time we told her we were moving, back when she was three. Then she mournfully invoked the name of her beloved best friend, and I started bawling. How could we do this to them?

Vermont-FarmI had to recover quickly, though, because my whole family shrewdly began bargaining. The eldest vowed she would attend college in Vermont–if we bought her a horse. “Done,” I said. (It sounded cheaper than the new car I had already considered dangling in front of her.) “It can live on the big farm we’ll get,” my son chimed in, which would also include waterfront access and steep cliffs for rock climbing. “I call the biggest room in the new house,” said the baby, who might have you believe she has spent her childhood  languishing in a tiny shoebox under the stairs. “AND a new puppy, and a trampoline.” Mr. 70 Percent wants the farmhouse on 100 acres, with chickens and a two-story library for all his books. But when you come visit us in Vermont–and I certainly hope you will–I suspect you’ll find us living the way /I/ want: in a cozy house with a wood-burning stove on a manageable lot, close to town and in view of the nice neighbors. Otherwise, I’ll be the raging alcoholic on the side of the road, dressed in hemp and selling hand-crafted goat cheese, waving gleefully at every passing car.

Grt-JF10-goats-kid-i

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About Susan H. Greenberg

Susan H. Greenberg spent 22 years as a journalist for Newsweek Magazine. She now works as a writer, editor, teacher, and parent of three children, with whom she strives always to maintain a varnish-free relationship.
This entry was posted in Family life, Kids, Marriage, Neighbors, Parenting, Pets, Reality check, Teenagers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to In Which Mr. 70 Percent Moves Me

  1. Great post! (what are your Vermont jobs?)

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Hey Karen! Bill’s going to be VP of Communications at Middlebury. I’m currently working on a book with someone, and will continue freelancing and (eventually) try to rustle up some teaching gigs. Hope you and yours are well–

  2. Joy says:

    Sue–Vermont reminds me of Cupcake Land.

  3. Beverly Lyles says:

    Wow! Susan Greenberg in Vermont. What an adventure it will be. Any black folks around those parts? Nevermind black, Any folks around those parts? Is that your home in the pic? Not to be funny, but it looks just like A Hallmark Father’s Day card. Bwaaaahhhhhh….. Love you Berg!
    Bev

  4. FechPot says:

    Looks like somebody is moving to a place that reminds me of a Father’s Day card form Hallmark! Watch out for all of three of those black folks there.. Love you Berg! Bev.

  5. Linda says:

    Great post, Sue! Love you, even if you do wear hemp and become an alcoholic.

  6. bill mcgahan says:

    Sue, you are beyond hilarious. And YOU should be the one getting something in a small box for this move. Too funny.

  7. Andy says:

    Ooh, I love goat cheese! Can’t wait to visit :-)

  8. Deborah Herman says:

    Hey Sue,

    As I was reading your blog, I was laughing and, apparently, making odd sounds. William and Charlotte were saying, “Mom, what are you doing?” So I read the blog to William (I tried to read it to Charlotte, but she ran off), who was smiling and listening while he continued to do his science homework (I believe he was smiling at your writing, and not at his phenology) When I was through he said, “Wow, no Apple Store, I wouldn’t move there.” Soon after I finished reading your blog, I realized that my life has turned into several potential unvarnished mom blogs. I am going to see this as a new type of humor therapy, instead of some sad statement on homemaking.

    Congratulations to Bill on securing the new job, and to you on the fabulous book/travel opportunity! You will have plenty of writing material for future blogs.

    Lots of love, Debbie

    • That’s the spirit, Deb! And I agree completely with William re: Apple store. It’s appalling. I am hoping you guys will be among the people who actually come visit, en route to UVM reunions… XOXO

  9. lisa says:

    Congratulations to Bill!!! Roadtrip to Vermont is all I can say!
    I love how your life is an adventure. xo Lisa

  10. Judith Holt says:

    We WIT women will have to wind our way up to see you! You will be missed. xo Judith

  11. Nancy Katzen says:

    I need to see you. Check out the nearest airport we’ll pick up Laurie and Hank and come and visit this summer. We love Vermont. Great maple syrup Xoxo

    Sent from my iPhone

  12. Eve says:

    Sue – get her the car – MUCH CHEAPER!! Congratulations on the move and Bill’s new job! Having no Apple store will necessitate visits to civilization. We will be your official leaf peepers, and I will buy your cheese (and some syrup). Much love – Eve

  13. Laurie says:

    We’ll come visit! Your new town is amazing and the area has much to offer.

  14. Good luck with the move, Sue! I’m sure Vermont will be beautiful. I’ve only been to Stratton and Manchester, where there’s some great home decor stores! (though the accessories may not fit in with Mr. 70 Percent’s vision of a farmhouse with chickens).

  15. Steve Strasser says:

    There will be lots of new stuff to write about. Have a great time with your wonderful family in one of the last pristine, authentic places left.

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