Fresh Strawberries

I thought that I would spend my whole life happily wandering around the country, maybe even the globe, but some annoying primitive part of me was quietly longing for a home. I wondered what it would feel like to be a part of a community, but after feeling like I didn’t seem to fit in anywhere, and I realized that my wandering soul, not body, was preventing me from dropping roots. After spending my entire adult life in flux, moving every six months to two years, I longed for a life where I didn’t need a GPS just to get to the grocery store.

I knew that Western Massachusetts was an acceptable fit for me. I don’t know exactly how I knew that. I just felt it. I could barely point to it on a map of the US, and I did absolutely no research. I had lived in Vermont for a summer nearly 8 years prior and I liked the area enough, but never gave much thought to moving to New England until a couple weeks before I did. Once the idea of moving to Western Mass entered my brain, I felt it so strongly that I couldn’t stay another minute in the room above my parent’s garage in New Castle, Indiana. I was staying there very much against my mother’s wishes, but I only planned to stay long enough to save money to rent an apartment. But my life felt like it was on hold. Every job was a small bit above minimum wage. Saving money is not something I have ever been able to do. Money is a tool, and I’ve always had to use it to get anything accomplished. I was convinced I didn’t have time to wait for money. I figured out another way.

In 2016 I stole my family minivan and did a primitive DIY build which involved a borrowed twin-sized mattress, some plastic storage totes, and only the belongings I thought were absolutely necessary. I cut some Reflectix for the windows and cut up some black curtains so I could have some privacy. On August 13th, I headed for destination unknown. I had two hundred dollars to my name and I felt like life was only capable of getting better. And surprisingly, it couldn’t have gone better. Of course that’s hindsight, but even the things that seemed tragic at the time, were lined with luck. I broke my ankle in 2017 and was laid up for months, but I had friends who were overly willing to help me and I happened to actually have disability insurance that took effect just two days before I broke my ankle.

I don’t know if my gut choice to move here was correct or if I really was tired of moving around, but I feel like I might just be home. Maybe I finally understand the consequences of things like breaking a lease or having a car repossessed so I keep showing up to my job which has potential to be a very long and rewarding career. I have always shown up when necessary though. What amazes me is that I no longer rack my brain for ways to escape, at least not physically. When I see my friend looking at jobs on Indeed, I don’t feel a urge to join in anymore. I don’t check Craigslist for apartments anymore either.

I have moved a few times since being out here, but only for necessary housing changes, rather than feeling like I needed a complete social change. In 2019, I signed a year lease. I’m still living in the same place. I’ve never stayed in one residence for more than a year since college.

The other day at work a co-worker asked about strawberries at local farm stands. I had actually noticed them at the farm stand by my house. I shared the information with her, and then I thought about how I knew that. It takes a lot of consistency in an environment to notice the emergence of a new offering at a small farm stand. Other than a small, handwritten sign, the only evidence there were any strawberries was the small blue pint box of the red fruit sitting on top of a cash box. When you’re driving to the grocery store waiting for Siri to announce your next turn, it’s hard to remember where the farm stands are, let alone what they have. I made a mental note to grab some while I can still get them. I have never had room for matters involving strawberries in my life before. I don’t know what level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs that I have reached to actually long for fresh strawberries, but I can say its farther up the pyramid than I have ever been before. It feels like uncharted territory. It feels like privilege.

Between a chaotic upbringing and a chaotic emergence into adulthood, I never thought I was the type of person who would care about fresh strawberries. In fact, I hated those people and never wanted to be one, but its kind of nice.

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