Victorian in the snow

Welcome to the Farm: A Snowy Weekend Indoors

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We live in a rural community on the fringe of Nashville so finding like-minded friends residing nearby when we don’t feel like heading into the city is a challenge. I do have plenty of childhood friends in the area who are a whole lot of fun and whom we see often enough, but many of them have kids and Little League practice and demanding jobs and travel schedules that don’t make for weekly hangouts. And the other locals I have met since our move—well, let’s just say we don’t have a whole lot in common.

Last fall, a new journalist friend said she had just the couple, Hannah and Bryan, who lived nearby and so she introduced us via Facebook. We have been casual online friends since, but never took that next step toward hanging out—until Friday, that is.

Meanwhile, the daughter of my dad’s old business partner at the CPA firm, Elizabeth, moved a mile down the street from us with her husband Sam. She was the oldest of the four kids, a decade or so my senior, and I was a year behind the youngest in school, so while we grew up across the street from each other, we never knew one another that well. She has a half dozen degrees and spent the last decade as a linguist in France and Africa and beyond. She moved to Indiana, where her husband is from, a few years ago, then sold his company and the two relocated to Alabama last fall to work on a goat farm. A month ago, they became our neighbors and now are operating a grilled cheese truck that they are taking to food festivals around the Southeast and breeding Australian labradoodles on the side. I believe I have found one Southern girl with an even more random existence than my own!

Riley the labradoodle

On a whim, I emailed Elizabeth and Hannah last Wednesday to see if they and their husbands wanted to convene at our place for a Friday dinner. A stroke of good luck meant that all of us were free at once (“we’ll head over after we coop the chickens” was Hannah’s response). Spending the past many years in New York and San Francisco, I’m accustomed to having to make such plans six weeks in advance to accommodate all my city friends’ busy schedules, so this last minute, spontaneous get-together was a novelty for my Type A self.

This was a blind couples date of sorts, which could make for all sorts of awkwardness—but there was none. Rather, the moment the four of them walked through the door, it was an explosion of conversations—so much to say! so many cool stories everyone had to share!—and there wasn’t a moment of silence in the five hours that followed.

Bryan is a doctor, and Hannah a professor who teaches classics (Greek, Latin, literature) at a university and commutes 90 miles one way to work each day, sometimes on her motorcycle. The two grew up in Virginia—he in suburbia, she on a farm—and then spent much of their twenties in Portland, Maine as she got her PhD and he completed his medical residency. Today, they live on a hobby farm in a quaint holler with cows and chickens and a pig named Pork Chop who they slaughtered Tuesday. Hannah, a true academic who spends her commute listening to The Economist and Wall Street Journal via podcast, also doubles as a mechanic; my politics- and car-obsessed husband who also tinkers with automotive-type projects in his downtime (and was forced to sell both motorcycles when we moved cross-country) was in awe of her, as were we all I think it’s safe to say.

Elizabeth and Sam arrived with three types of home-brewed beer, home-baked bread and their eight-month-old pup Riley. Hannah and Bryan came bearing 18 eggs they had been lain that day and homemade limoncello in an over-sized mason jar. I am never going back to store-bought eggs, and SVV might have already convinced them to incubate some eggs for us come summer. (Chickens in the backyard of our home in a commercial district? Why not! If memory serves me correct, I think the neighborhood ordinance only banned swine.)


For dinner, SVV and I made our beloved Burmese fermented tea leaf salad and a green curry and red velvet Oreo truffle brownies for dessert. A whole lot of bourbon and beer and Limoncello was consumed, and the six of us could have stayed around that table all weekend talking; I have a feeling this will become the norm in our new blossoming relationship.

After spending the better part of a decade in big cities that breeds liberal intellectuals, it’s nice to find intriguing people with similar interests and lifestyles to our own in the rural sticks of the American South. Moving and forming new relationships as an adult is always an exercise in humility. Never discount a place or person based on geographical or cultural stereotypes or you’re in danger of missing out on the greatest friendships of all.

Riley and Ella

  • February 13, 2013

    Oh good lord you weren’t kidding about the randomness. I always wonder how people describe us when they introduce us to new people. I need to get out and do things like this. The only hard part about living in Austin is that everyone wants to go out and spend money… and they are 8 years younger than me.

    • February 13, 2013

      Ha, same! People who don’t know me often think my blog is my job, and I’m all, nope (I wish!), more like a hobby that brings in a tad bit of income, but I’m a journalist, guidebook author, corporate copywriter, travel agent, social media strategist, sometimes-ship communications director, conference founder and a whole lot of other random things (like Trivial Pursuit question writer!)!

  • February 13, 2013

    I love the random way we all make friends. About to move across the country and can’t wait for the chance encounters that will (hopefully!) yield new pals!

  • February 13, 2013

    Oh, how I can relate! Moving to a new town with an infant was tough and it was so refreshing to meet friends that we could have a great time with! Enjoy the kid-free time, but it is still great once there are a bunch running around. Nice excuse to hang at each other’s houses, which is what we enjoy the most anyway!

  • February 13, 2013

    I love happenstance friendships like this! Sounds like such an intriguing bunch! Moving back to Chicago, I experienced the same with friends here who have kids and the like, and it’s always great to see them, but it’s been great to make new friends as well! And discovering all the hidden gems (like a super cool nanobrewery 15 minutes from our house) in the area where we grew up has also been a great experience!

  • February 13, 2013

    MAN! I want cool friends, too. I am not finding similar experiences just yet in J-ville. Are there any houses for sale in your neighborhood? Sounds like I might need to move 😉

    • February 27, 2013

      Um, there are two bedrooms available in our house! Ha.

  • February 13, 2013

    What a great story — and you got fresh eggs and a bunch of booze! Love it! Making friends as an adult is certainly difficult. So glad it turned out to be wonderful. That house is gorgeous!

    • February 27, 2013

      Thanks, Julie! It’s a labor of love, updating this house, and will be something we do over the course of a few years, but we absolutely love her!

  • February 14, 2013

    I wanted to say that this post is by far one of my favorites. It appears that you found or created your own version of San Fran and New York!! It also makes me miss parts of the south. Good for you guys and keep up the great posts!

  • February 14, 2013

    Oh, I hear ya. I have been struggling lately in the city in which I’ve lived for almost 8 years – we haven’t moved, but our friend groups have changed drastically – in one, we are the ONLY couple without kids, and they are the types of parents that don’t often go out and have fun still; in the other, they ALL got married just this last year, and then fell off the face of the earth. It’s frustrating, and so hard, the older we get, to find people with similar interests and turn them into friends.

    Anyway, this sounds like a really fun night, and yay for cool new friends!

  • February 14, 2013

    ANYBODY coming to my house with EGGS is an instant BFF!

  • February 14, 2013

    Snow suits your home!

    Sounds like the start of some great friendships. That dog sure is cute, too!

  • February 14, 2013

    Those people all sound SO incredible – what interesting lives they’ve led. I just moved to Australia and I’m once again realizing the difficulties of cultivating adult relationships with people. I have a great network of friends and I’ve always been somebody with a few close friends over many general friends. I’m only here for 6 months which is another restraint on relationship building. I build them and then I leave. But I’ve made a good start – I’ve joined a running group and a board games group to keep me busy and meeting new people. Hopefully this Australian lifestyle will lead to a more permanent life…..maybe. I love that you don’t always post about travel – I love the lifestyle aspect of your blog very much.

  • February 14, 2013

    I love this! Making friends as an adult is hard work. Especially when you don’t have a regular job (not that I befriend co-workers, but it is a start!).

    Having moved to new places three times post college, all I can say is that is happens in its own sweet (read slow) time and in the most random circumstances. But when it does, it feels like you’ve won the lottery.

    Congrats on the new house and the new peeps! xo

  • February 15, 2013

    You just have the life ive been looking for!!!
    To know people and coolture around the world .. it sounds like a dream!

  • February 18, 2013

    My goodness that sounds like a fun get together. I love the couple who breeds dogs on the side. Sounds like a fun group to hang out with!

  • February 19, 2013

    Yay for new friends near your new home! Making friends as an adult is SO HARD, especially in more rural lands and I’m so glad you’ve found people with similar interests.

    Also – farm fresh eggs are THE BEST and SO MUCH BETTER than anything in the grocery store.

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