We just spent a few days in our happy place, the Nantahala Gorge region of western North Carolina. Sixteen years ago on the Summer Solstice we pledged to spend our lives together and have not looked back since…except to come back to this magical place almost every year to celebrate and honor our beginnings. What an absolutely amazing journey these years have been.
This trip was different from years past, as for the first time ever we brought our dog with us. Marley has been the perfect travel companion, easygoing and loving, down for whatever. I so enjoyed walking her around Nantahala Village and the Nantahala Outdoor Center, as well as taking her to our special waterfall where Dan proposed on the Summer Solstice, and we were married exactly one year later.
Our anniversary was special for another reason; we released the ashes of two cherished dogs, Cooper and Sophie, at our waterfall. I love the idea of them becoming one with the swirling beauty and power of the Nantahala. Dan and I will be a part of it when our time comes, too. The continuity of it all, the beauty of connection with the primal elements of the Earth resonates with me deeply.
We had a lovely time- even with storm-induced power outages and rain. Unlike our usual very active trip, because of my recent shoulder surgery we didn’t raft the Nantahala, go horseback riding, or any of the other activities we typically love- just lots of long walks with Marley in the woods, enjoying the views, good meals, and a visit from two of our dearest friends. Normally I would have taken tons of photos and written blog posts every day, but this time I vowed to focus on the experience, on truly being in the moment. I really needed this time.
It’s difficult for me to put into words what this place means to me; I feel a soul connection, like I’ve been here before and belong here. The mountains and the river seem to flow through my veins. The only other place I feel that is at our Chez Gainey. That sense of home…it is as integral to my being as breathing.
We discovered that the place we stay is selling several of their cabins to free up capital, something that piqued my interest; I love this place and would be thrilled to have some real roots here. And then we saw that one of the historic cabins was for sale, and I felt something click inside my heart. I walked Marley by it early one morning, feeling like a giant magnet was drawing me to it.
Poor Dan, I was obsessed, so much so that he laughingly told me he felt like he was trapped by a timeshare salesman. I did my best to walk the thin line between normal excited and over-the-edge bonkers cabin stalker, and failed miserably. We asked to see it, but were told that someone was staying there…I tried to let it go. Our last evening I told Dan I was walking up to the lodge just to check again. In a wonderful moment of serendipity, the girl at the desk told me that the realtor handling the cabin sales was there- and she was the one staying in the cabin currently. Goosebumps.
The realtor was super sweet and offered to show us the cabin right then and there. I couldn’t reach Dan, but she drove me to our cabin and I raced inside, telling Dan, “Let’s go, let’s go- we’re seeing the cabin now!” The poor man went in his jammies and slippers, zero complaints. I married well. We walked through the small cabin and I felt like I was home. It is rustic, simple, peaceful. It makes no sense for me to want to buy this place- it’s not the dream A-frame cabin on a lake that we dream of and we are putting all of our money into our house this summer, rebuilding decks and retaining walls…but it is a true piece of paradise to me, a place where I feel the crushing anxiety that always seems to sit on my chest melt away.
Dan is always the one to balance my big dreams with a reality check (and he’s much better with money than I am). We’ve had some great talks about it; he is very open to the idea, assuring me that dreaming big is a good thing, and reminding me that if this doesn’t happen that it means something better is waiting for us. I’m trying to breathe into it, to let it go a bit, but so far I’ve not been very successful (exhibit A: staying up into the wee hours ‘decorating’ the cabin on Pinterest). I have cabin fever big time. Welcome home!
So for now, we research, we talk, we dream, and we hope. I wish I could explain the pull to this simple, humble, little place. I just know that I feel like I’m meant to be there, meant to have this place where I can breathe the fresh mountain air. I’m putting the idea out to the universe, focusing all of my positive energy on manifesting my dream. Dreams have to start somewhere to happen, right?