By Pamela Mortimer
It’s not a geographical cure. No, really. At least my move to Asheville in July didn’t feel like that. Until now.
When I announced (for the four hundredth time) that I was selling my house and moving south, I got a mixed reaction from friends and family. Some were supportive and the others had heard that song so often that I’m not sure they were even paying attention. After all, I’d lived in a semi-rural area in the mountains of Pennsylvania my entire life. I’d been at the same job for seventeen years. And, worst of all, even if I could talk the talk, I’d never walked the walk. Would my dream of becoming a full time writer ever transpire?
I’d spent the last ten years as a writer, editor, and the last seventeen years as a graphic designer and printer. (The aforementioned “day job”.) I knew I had the ability to write. With five published books and five years of publishing a literary mag to my credit, that wasn’t the issue. The issue was this: Would I be able to make enough money to survive? Would my freelancing sustain me? I couldn’t do it where I was, so what kind of guarantee would I have that I could do it in Asheville? The answer was “none”. There are no guarantees. And that, my friends, scared the living daylights out of me.
The other issues are the same that many others face: giving up the security of a steady paycheck, moving away from friends and family, and the worst of all, wondering what the future would hold when I no longer had health insurance. Now that I think about it, I put my dreams, my life on hold for many, many years because I was comfortable in my misery. I loved my job but couldn’t stand being around my abusive boss, loved my house but always wondered if something would explode in the middle of the night when no sane repairman was available, and most of all, I was comfortable in knowing that my sister was a mile away and that I could see my beloved nieces and nephews (first and second generation) practically any time I wanted. There’s nothing better than having a rotten day destroyed by a giggling four year old who absolutely beams when he sees you. Still, with all of the things I had, I wanted more. No, I needed more. And to think that I stayed for all those years because of things like insurance just seems ludicrous to me now.
I have to admit that making that first phone call to my realtor was as nerve racking as anything I’d ever done in my life. But, with the helpful suggestions (read “coercion”) from friends who had already taken the plunge, I did it. I knew that they were right. I was dying inside. Dying from a lack of culture, an economy that was getting bleaker by the minute. It was time for me to go. Finally.
So here I am. My best friend said that she admires me for being brave enough to do something so big. It makes me laugh when people say that I’m brave or a Bohemian. I want to be those things. I try to be those things. Inside, I’m a big scaredy cat. At least I used to be.