I wrote this post a year ago before the hardcover of my book was published. I’m re-running it today, the day before the paperback version of my book is released, in Georgia’s honor, edited to add links to some of my favorite posts on the blog about Georgia. I hope you’ll click through to the links and enjoy!
I’m so proud of my book, and so excited. It’s the most important thing I’ve written in my whole life, as well as the most revealing. I’m proud that I lived the life that is in the book. That I dared. Because there is no reason on earth that I or anyone should have thought I would.
How could any of that life even be mine?
I lived a safe life for the first 40 years of my existence on this planet. Safe, safe, safe. Good girl, safe, good girl.
Good girls who eat their peas and desire a safe life don’t run away from the suburbs and move into a slanted little house with no insulation, no central heat, and no money. Good girls don’t move to dirt roads barricaded by rivers and creeks and icy narrow ways out with no guard rails. Good girls don’t throw away all the security and money they always thought they needed to be happy, and drive off with nothing but their laptop and their cat and their kids.
If I die tomorrow, I have lived.
I did the hardest things alone, most notably explaining it to my kids, who were coming with me.
A few weeks before, I had sat in a rocking chair next to my dear Georgia on the porch of the slanted little house and asked perhaps the most important question of my life. She sat there, looking at me, wondering why I was visiting, and I said, “Will you let me move in to the old farmhouse? I want to live here.”
And she didn’t blink, she didn’t question, she just said, “Of course, you’re family.”
I lived there for two and a half years before moving to a farm of my own at Stringtown Rising. I paid a (very) minimal rent at the slanted little house, enough to cover the gas it cost to heat the house. Near the end of my time there, that last Christmas, she gave me a card. Inside, she wrote to me that her gift to me until I moved out was that I wouldn’t have to pay any more rent.
It wasn’t the greatest gift she gave me. That greatest gift was herself. She was in her 70s, and she’d grown up on a farm, knew how to do it all. She rambled around the farm between her house, my cousin’s house, and the slanted little house where I was living, dressed like a cross between a church lady and a gnome with her curly silver hair sticking out from under a cap, wearing a series of West Virginia t-shirts and polyester pants and always, always, a sweater, unless it was 90 degrees. She made me do chores. She made me hoe and then she made me can. She made me rake leaves and clean out gutters and carry sticks to the brush pile. She made me drive her to the store and she tried to make me put on sweaters every time a cloud crossed the sun.
She made me crazy.
And she made me want to be more like her.
Georgia was the conductor to my journey, the one who gave me my key to the rocket ride by providing a means for me to come to West Virginia and by inspiring me to be a different kind of woman than I’d ever imagined. There were many people who made this book possible, but she was first and foremost. She was like the “Yoda” in my backroads Star Wars, and if you’ve ever had someone like that in your life, I think you will connect to her role in my story. And if you’ve never been fortunate enough to have a Georgia, let me share her with you. Through this book, she can be yours, too.
I hope I’ve done justice to her, and to so many people who became part of my story along the way. While this story came to be larger than life in some ways, at least to my former sheltered eyes, it is a true story about real life and real people, with all the real emotions that come hand-in-hand with reality.
When I came to West Virginia, I didn’t really have a plan. I was lost, to tell you the truth. It was the people I knew on this journey, like Georgia, who showed me the way and gave me a purpose both within and outside of myself. I hope with this book I can share those inspirations that changed my life, and with that, create something that means as much to you as it does to me, and be something that you, also, will want to share.
You can order now (hardcover, paperback, or e-book!), and I hope so much that you will tell me what you think!
Links to some of my posts about Georgia:
Driving Miss Georgia
Guiding the Lost
Downed Tree Causes Year’s Worst Pileup
My Real Garden
The One That Got Away
The Big Excitement
Then She Ate Some Pie and Went to Bed
Over the Hill and through the Woods
Picking Hot Peppers at the Old Farmhouse
The Orange Boosh