Although it may feel like we are living in one non-stop, continuous day in these crazy times- with quarantines, working from home, social distancing, etc.- May 18th is actually a date of some significant importance to me as it marks the one year anniversary since I moved to the Pioneer Valley and began a new chapter in my life out in Western Massachusetts.
A few different things brought me to the Valley a year ago: I wanted to live somewhere new after spending years at my previous residence outside the city. I wanted to save some money that was otherwise going to astronomically inflated rent costs and utilities at other apartments I had been looking at when first toying with the idea of changing addresses. I wanted to be more involved in an evolving and growing community of artists where I could let my passion and talent truly flourish- and I wanted to be closer to someone I loved who had also resided in the area and who had encouraged me to come out here to embark on a creative adventure together.
I first found my current apartment- a spacious one bedroom on the top floor of a converted mill building- years ago when I had briefly considered moving to Western Mass, only to delay those plans when issues in my personal life and a relationship I had been in at the time began to sour. I had toured the area, visited and fell in love with the then-vacant space, and was devastated when it was taken off the market while I dealt with the ongoing issues back home that required my full attention.
Fast-forward a few years later when the unit became available again and my now-landlord reached out to see if I’d be interested in giving the move another go. Her and I had gotten along very well at my previous viewing of the property- and she’d kept me in mind ever since. I jumped at the chance- and in mid-May of 2019- I had packed up my belongings and made the trek to Greenfield, Massachusetts with some heavy lifting help from my older brother and an uncle who lives nearby.
With hardwood floors, high ceilings, exposed beams and brick, granite counter tops and huge, wrap around windows that offer a nice view of downtown and plenty of natural light during the day- it didn’t take me long to settle into my space and make it a home- complete with some new furniture and updated decor that better fit my desired “beach cottage” aesthetic.
And my neighborhood- filled with independent shops, unique restaurants and performing spaces- all within a short driving distance of mountains, rivers and untouched wonders of nature- always had something fascinating and different going on any given day of the week. Before COVID-19, that is. Since then, the landscape has changed quite a bit- and will probably continue doing so for some time whenever we begin opening things back up.
And although I wrote about some of the hurdles I faced shortly after my move that extended into earlier this year– I really do like being out here. I’ve met some wonderful people, have been able to participate in a lot of fun activities- and have gotten to explore some seriously beautiful, serene, and fascinating places in the past twelve months. I had always ventured out to Western Massachusetts since my teens- usually for day trips or weekend getaways- but to live here has been an entirely new experience in itself.
I don’t know if the Pioneer Valley is my “forever home,” especially when I was making preparations to move to Las Vegas this year at my best friend Kelsey’s urging before she unexpectedly passed away at the end of February- but with the current pandemic- moving hasn’t exactly been on my mind recently. The thought of not only finding a new place but having to view it in person and then transport my belongings during a global health crisis isn’t practical or safe. I ended up renewing my lease for another year while riding this out- and I’m okay with it- since I feel safe here and am familiarized with everyone and everything for the time being.
I’m looking forward to the day when I can actually be involved in the community again- and not just from my window or online. I’m excited to share more “Local Loves” that extend beyond abandoned/historic locations and roadside oddities around where I reside. There are so many places to eat, shop and socialize that I plan to write about at length when it’s safe to do so again- but getting through the waves of coronavirus comes first. I just have to be patient until then.
It’s been an interesting year of self-discovery, adventures, triumphs and yes- some heartache peppered in here and there for good measure- but I’m ultimately glad I made the move and I’m looking forward to whatever happens next here in my little corner of the Valley while I continue learning and growing.
Here’s to better days ahead.