Q: How do you like living in California?
A: I don’t really feel like I live in California. It often seems like we’re in a bubble that could be anywhere and nowhere at the same time. We’re a 4 hour drive north of San Francisco up in Humboldt County, an area known for giant redwood forests and the Emerald Triangle.
We live on a mountain with one neighbor down the road and another one close by. I’ve only met them once. It takes about 5 minutes to go up the long and steep driveway, on which 4-wheel-drive becomes your best friend. Once you arrive, you’ll pass the garden, chicken coop, and arrive at the main house. Look to your right and you’ll see the neighboring mountain covered in green trees and the valley below.
Sometimes it feels like we live in a different place and time. Depending on your mood, time goes by too slowly, too quickly, or not at all. I like the laid back and nature-loving culture. The air is clean and the water is fresh. It’s peaceful and quiet, until you listen. You might hear insects buzzing, chickens rustling in the grass, hummingbirds buzzing around the feeder, or Xiao Hu’s tag when he shakes.
Once I got used to the quieter sounds, the louder ones seemed that much louder. Everything seems fast paced when I leave the mountain. Voices are louder and conversations are faster. It’s like people are in a rush and pushing to get their point across.
I’ve only been here for a year so it’s easy to re-adapt to non-mountain life. It does get me thinking about the type of lifestyle I’d like to live once the program is over. I want to be near nature for sure, but not in such a remote place where it would be difficult to teach or travel. I like drying my laundry in the sun. It feels cleaner and I feel good knowing I saved energy. I’d like to have a veggie garden, but probably no chickens. I’m used to waking up early and I feel more productive when I do. I like it when almost no one else is awake. I’ll be excited to be living in society again, but I know that I’d still like to have some access to the peace and quiet I get here.