The calendar has turned to November and I am sorting through a box of winter clothes. After 12 weeks of phone interviews, office visits and e-mails, I am on the move once again.
I have just returned to packing after a wonderful morning hike. My roommate and I made a trip to Bath Nature Preserve in Akron to watch the horses and enjoy the crisp morning air. We talked a lot about our futures.
We are preparing to say goodbye in another week. I am heading to the foothills of Appalachia, where I will work on a renewable energy grant for a nonprofit. I am excited to make a move to Athens, Ohio, and create future projects for coal-impacted communities.
I took a minute to upload my final photos. My mind is on packing while the radio plays a commercial for Cleveland Indians baseball. I still feel emotionally drained from our World Series loss, since the Tribe came up short in the end.
I look out at a sea of yellow and orange leaves and cannot believe we are still enjoying beautiful, sunny weather. The high temperatures were more than I could ask for, while I searched for work following my yearlong VISTA term.
I return to the task at hand and pull out my list of things to do. I think I will need to take my snow tires. Most of my other things are still in boxes after living in West Virginia, but I still haven’t thought about snow tires in a really long time.
Thanks to some unique circumstances, I ended up in Fayetteville while I searched for work. One of my New River connections had asked me to occupy his cabin for the month, so I lived in solitude, sending out resumes from the Cathedral Cafe and Fayetteville Library. A group of friends came to visit for Bridge Day and the temperatures soared above 75. What a different way to enjoy Bridge Day 2016, since I was living less than a mile south of the bridge! My friends had such a good visit and finally understood why it was so difficult for me to leave the Wild and Wonderful.
During their brief visit, we hiked to the edge of the New River, and they couldn’t get enough of the life I had been living for so long. We even had a chance to watch a friend from Cleveland take the plunge from the bridge. He later sent us a link to his amazing GoPro video.
Despite my love for Fayetteville, I just couldn’t find work in West Virginia. So I packed up the cabin the Sunday before Halloween. I said goodbye to the video boaters and river guides. We cooked a nice breakfast, and I paused one last time to look at those friends, and my life in fall colors.
Through it all, I became reconnected to the friends back home. I also had an opportunity to work with a new client who lived in my old neighborhood. He gave me a paid research project, and I hope to combine that with the work I will be doing in Athens.
When I visit my friends and family back home, I will be living the city life, but in Athens, I will enjoy farmland and scenic trails.
I am excited to begin a new life in the foothills of Appalachia. I am drawn to these rural communities. I am only three hours away from northeast Ohio, and only 2-1/2 hours from Fayetteville. I never realized how good it feels to live the life I want to live.
Three years ago, I set out to understand the parallels between urban and rural poverty. Next week, my research adventure will continue.