I love my little village. My own little Brigadoon, I've called it in the past. I have fantastic neighbors. A great pub with colorful souls. A sparkling brook that trickles behind my house. And a castle just down the street and around the corner.
Did I mention there's A CASTLE.
As a kid I definitely thought about living in a castle. I mean who doesn't? I think most little girls think about it at some point. Living in the castle with their handsome prince wearing a big pink pretty, pretty princess dress and the world is perfect.
When you're nine.
My adventure in England has taken a wide variety of twists and turns. I started out in The Little Cottage on the Estate. I currently live in The Little Cottage in the Village.
And I plan to move to....The Little Georgian Flat in the City.
I'm like Laura Ingalls Wilder's modern day English ex-patriot equivalent.
The reality of a being single woman in her late 30s in a small village has been impressed on me more and more lately as people who have been important in my life this past year have slipped away, only to expose the holes in the theory that life in a village is perfect. It is perfect. If you're retired. Or raising kids. Or a poet. Or someone looking to hermit away from life and be a cat lady.
I am none of those things.
I fell in love with Bath the first time my friend Les took me there last year. He took me to all his former drunken haunts in the city, meeting up with a great group of his friends, and within seconds I wanted to live there. But the idea of leaving my little haven, the place of respite I'd found after the craziness of first arriving here and having everything thrown into chaos, was a difficult one to stomach.
But as the days have moved on, I've realized that life in Nunney doesn't change. It's lovely. As always. It's friendly. As always. There are always people to chat to on the street, always friends in the pub to share the day's events with, always company for a cheerful supper.
But, like Brigadoon....not many other people come here.
To be fair, we do have a good amount of visitors. Walkers who come to explore the trails of the Mendips. Parents who bring their young children for an educational day out for the 20 minute walk around the castle. People from neighboring villages venturing "out" for the evening. Men who work for the quarries that come and stay at the pub for a night. Some even become semi-monthly regulars.
But the village, the core, the people you meet daily, the people who you know and who know you, stay the same.
I grew up in a small town, an island, and thought I would embrace small town life easily as it was something I'd known and loved. But nostalgia is a different thing from reality.
The reality is Nunney has become my British home town. The place I can go to and know in my heart that I'm welcome. Step into the gossip should I choose, step out of should I not. I know the people and the dogs, the houses, the roads and the trees.
But it's time to fly the coop.
I love my hometown of Bainbridge Island, Washington. Like Nunney, it's an idyllic place, perched just across the water, a 30 minute ferryboat ride away from downtown Seattle. In the twisted turmoil of trying to figure out where I belonged, knowing I didn't belong in Nunney but not really knowing where I was supposed to be, I thought, "Bainbridge."
But that would be the end of the story.
I'm not ready for the story to end.
And the reality, as I said recently in a conversation with my mother, was that after the magic wore off of being "back home" again, what would I be doing there? Where would I be?
I have lived in New York. I have lived in LA. And there were reasons I left both. In some ways both were too big for me. Too much. Nothing you could get your head around and embrace. Nothing tangible. I want to know when there's a new restaurant opening in town...I don't want it to be one of 200 new restaurants opening that day....but I don't want it to be the only one that opened that year either.
Since I first went to Bath last summer I've spent a fair amount of time there. I've introduced old friends to it. I've met new friends. I've fell in love with restaurants and shops and parks and I think I found that place, that singular place, that I've been searching for.
It's not Bainbridge. But like Bainbridge, or Nunney, I could walk across it in a day. It's not New York or LA, but like those cities there's something new, something happening every night. Restaurants and theatre and music and people. And life.
And so I've notified my landlords, who optimistically are putting my current house on the market to see who else wants to buy this little gem on the brook with the ancient walled garden. My cottage that is older than the United States. That has sheltered me. And protected me. And now needs to let me go.
I'm looking forward to moving and feel as if I almost belong to Bath already, in a way that I don't think that I've felt I belonged to any city since I left Seattle 12 years ago. I wonder sometimes if this is what I've been looking for in all the travels and all the years of adventuring. Stay tuned.
What's funny is two years ago my brother got married in beautiful house in the village of Porlock, a really, REALLY little but lovely place on the Exmoor coast, looking out over the bay to Wales. On the way back to London, driving with my sister Megan and her family, who live in Sweden, we detoured for my first ever view of Bath. As we drove away, remarking on my newly acquired Finnish citizenship, Megan said, "Just think....anytime you wanted to you could live here."
And now...I will.