Mountain Air

I’m in love with New Hampshire. It’s illogical and unrequited; there is love lost in this relationship. (A delightful turn of phrase, because how does one lose love they way they might their car keys? But I suppose it’s not love misplaced—it’s love lost, like you’ve sent your love into the woods and the sun is setting and it’s dinner time and even though you’re ringing the dinner bell and calling its cell phone, your love is nowhere to be found.) But it’s the truth, the reality.

This is all brought on by attending my friend Stan’s wedding with my buddy Bob up in Bretton Woods. It was a long drive, up from Boston, and it was filled with traffic and the remarkably active New Hampshire state troopers. But when we got to the White Mountains, full and lush with summer, I couldn’t stop finding the scenery utterly bucolic and romantic—even the quiet mountain towns just seemed so easy to live in. They were bursting with flowers and and a homey lived-in charm, as though they were even aging in an adorable way; even the dilapidated, decrepit  buildings with alarmingly tilted add-ons and boarded up windows spoke more about potentiality than they did morosity. The stars were so bright and prominent that we even mistook a planet for a plane; Bob looked it up on our evening walk around the hotel grounds and verified that we were in fact looking at Mars. It was simply breathtaking. (As was the wedding and the venue, by the way, and Bob and I had some fantastic conversations and run-ins that maybe I’ll explore more later in blog form.)

We were there for three days, and by the third day I really did feel as though I could live in this peaceful paradise; I started wondering about the kind of job that would let me work from home so I wouldn’t have to worry about a commute to anywhere, and with the advances in those food delivery services that provide you with the materials you would have gotten at the grocery store and cook from home, I wouldn’t even have to worry about what would likely become the 15-20 minute drive to the grocery store. (I even started envisioning the dog, probably a Barbet, running around in the yard.) New England winters are cold, but at the rate that I’ve been tinkering with fabric arts, I’m fairly certain I’d construct enough warm clothing to offer a since of hygge in the coming months.

But Bob—in his sensible way—popped that dream like a soap bubble. 

He noted how lonely it could be, up in the mountains, and in the countryside. Which is very much true for a multitude of reasons; there simply aren’t as many gay guys out in the middle of nowhere, where the traditionalism of heterosexuality reigns supreme. Or to put it in a more stark consideration, those out in the countryside are often the ones who, upon growing up, couldn’t get away for one reason or another. As much as I can romanticize rural America, I can’t make the spiked instances of opioid addiction disappear. And really, unless you’re busy running a farm or working in an all-time-consuming industry like restaurant ownership for example, I do feel as though you’d be more likely driven into some sort of substance abuse or addiction simply out of boredom. Every time we passed through the downtown of some New Hampshire village, I was shocked to see other human beings, and so many of them as well. Bob and I kept being puzzled at what was keeping the local economy’s socks up, especially once we left the tourist destination of the White Mountains. 

It really got me thinking about cities built on mountains, with Montréal being the largest I could think of. (Colorado kept popping up, but really for me it would have to be Montréal or one of the smaller Mediterranean towns like Ronda, Spain or Positano, Italy. Switzerland, if one could afford it.) In some ways, the drive to live in a city is a preclusion to living in the view of mountains; something about it seems incompatible. (Oslo, Norway, perhaps?)

One way or another, it feels a little like having a crush on someone I know doesn’t feel the same. The feeling is nice, but truncated.