As I write these words, the Great Pandemic of 2020 rages across the world. Whether it will have lasting consequence or will come and go like many events that seemed important at the time remains to be seen. But for me, it represents a nexus in my life, and the right time to return to all of you after two years away. I don’t normally like making my writing too personal. Our self-indulgent age is filled with people who will bend your ear with boring tales of their everyday lives, and – worst of all – excruciatingly detailed analyses of how it all made them feel. I swear that I will afflict no such thing upon you. But you do deserve some explanation of where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing these past two years, so that is what I will give you. The short version is that I have been on a long and difficult journey, and now that I am finally settled, I find that my life is nothing like what it was before I began it. That journey disrupted everything, including my writing, but I do now finally have the chance to return to it… and to you. Here is the story of where I have been in the meantime.
By the summer of 2017, it had become apparent that my 25 years of living in California could not continue much longer. My reasons for that are about the same as the rest of those who have been a part of the great middle class exodus out of the state: ever-higher taxes, increasingly tyrannical laws, a quality of life that kept getting worse every day while expenses skyrocketed, more crime, a vague feeling that something very bad was coming and that this would be a very bad place to be when it did. When I moved to California in the mid 90s, I was barely into adulthood and it was a dreamland of unimaginable beauty and opportunity. I loved it more than any of you can imagine. For years, I swore that the fools and tyrants who held the reins of power in the place would never drive me out. But even the most grand and beautiful of ships can be driven onto the rocks, and as it sinks, there comes a point when one most decide whether to get on a lifeboat or go down with it. I chose to jump ship while I still could. It broke my heart, but it was time to go.
And so, two days before that Christmas, in a small car loaded with my meager possessions, I crossed the Nevada line at Primm, and my California years came to an end.
Initially, while I was trying to figure out what I would be doing with the next phase of my life, I went to stay with my father in the Winterlands, far in the north, where brutal cold rules half the year. I found that the long years in California had made me soft, and adjusting to it was difficult. Beyond this, my relationship with my father has been strained even in the best of times, which made things even more difficult. My parents were divorced when I was a child, and my mother settled in the Summerlands, where it’s mild in the winter months. As soon as I had settled in up north, I found a pretext, and headed south to visit her for a couple of weeks. On the way, I accepted a standing invitation to visit from friends in southern Appalachia. It was the first time I had ever been there. I found the land to be beautiful and placid, and the people gracious and upstanding. It made an impression. Once in the Summerlands, I found my mother to be in good spirits and good health. I passed a couple of weeks with her and headed back to the Winterlands with a promise to return soon. Trapped inside by cold and snow, I began looking into what relocating permanently to southern Appalachia might entail.
In early spring, I repeated my trip. My mother was still in good spirits, but had developed a cough that I attributed to allergies. A week or two after I had returned to the Winterlands, she called and told me she had been diagnosed with COPD. In late April, she called again, calmly telling me that the diagnosis had been updated to lung cancer. She had smoked for 40 years, and quit a few years before, but it seemed the damage was done. I hurried down to see her, and once I was there she asked me to stay as her full-time caretaker. I agreed, and after a quick round-trip back up to the Winterlands in late May to load up with enough of my things to get by during a long-term stay, I settled in with her.
She got weaker very quickly. I found myself holding onto the hope that she would make it to Christmas. She died during the first weekend in August.
With her gone, and my name not on the lease, the sleazy management company that owned her apartment complex ordered me out by the end of the month. Before she died, she made me swear that her possessions wouldn’t end up in the trash, which is what property management companies do with the contents of abandoned or foreclosed apartments. I found myself with three weeks to get rid of her lifetime’s worth of collected stuff any way I could. That didn’t really leave me with enough time to make any money off it. I agreed to let a reseller haul it away for free, just so I could keep my word to her. He showed up with a 26 foot box truck, and it took five days for three people to get it all packed up and hauled away. Included with their take were collections of trinkets it took her years to accumulate, and many more items that were sentimental to me from my childhood. I had no way to get them back to the Winterlands and noplace to put them when I got there. All my car would carry was the stuff I had brought with me and a box full of family papers, old photographs, and legal documents. And so, on the first of September, that’s what I left the Summerlands with on my way back north.
My mother had not, however, died penniless. Once all of her affairs were settled, I inherited from her an amount of money that, while not “never work another day in your life” money, would be more than enough to settle someplace with a low cost of living, work as much as I cared to, and not have to worry about getting by.
Someplace like southern Appalachia.
By the beginning of the next year, things began coming together for a relocation there. The “work as much as I cared to” matter found a solution. I started looking for a place to live convenient both to that and to my fiends, and by May, I had signed a lease on a small cottage at the edge of the county seat – a town of 15,000 or so a half hour from both the highway and the mountains, an hour from the nearest small cities, and several hundred miles away from the nearest big cities. Mine is the last block to have streetlights on it – a right turn on the main road puts one out in quite literal cow country very quickly. Meanwhile, a turn to the left and a few minutes’ drive affords access to everything one might need – shops, restaurants, and services. The town punches well above its weight in these areas because, like many such places surrounded by large swaths of countryside, it supports the needs not only of its own residents, but of those who come from the surrounding rural areas “into town” for all the things they might need. I had worried that fast, reliable internet service would be a problem here, but it isn’t. Amazon deliveries take a day or so longer than I was used to in California, and spotty radio reception in the mountains led me to purchase a SiriusXM subscription, but beyond that I found I was not wanting for any modern convenience at all.
For the exact same amount of money I had been paying for renting a single room in California, my cottage features a bedroom twice its size, with my own small kitchen, living room, workspace, porch, two large closets, and a parking space. And it’s all mine.
I got my license changed over. Then I bought a bunch of guns I couldn’t have in California. I got a concealed carry permit, which was impossible where I lived in California but is easy here. I filled some of the generous extra space in the cottage’s closets with emergency supplies – water, canned food, first aid kits, ammunition, batteries, and other necessities. Perhaps not as much as a serious prepper would have, but far more than I ever could have had in California. I started going to the shooting range a lot – something I found that I genuinely quite enjoy. I made friends with my neighbors and their dogs. Fall passed, then a mild winter. I explored my new home – driving, walking, and flying a quadcopter drone that I bought myself for Christmas. Things began to feel comfortable.
What happened next I need not tell you. And I should hope it goes without saying that I’m very glad that it happened when I was here and not in big-city California.
And now, a couple of years older, settled into a new life in a new place, and having been through a journey of great hardship (and some joy too), I return to you.
A few things will change in this space. Among them will be some of the content I plan to post here. Much of it will be along the same lines that you’ve come to expect over the years. But some of it will delve into the more practical in terms of the actions that we should all be undertaking as we go forward. Yes, real actions. One place – perhaps the most important – where I’ve found myself diverging from the rest of the dissident right is that I’ve increasingly come to understand that the time for talking is over. Or, perhaps it’s better to say, the time for only talking is over. It’s okay to philosophize, and I will continue to do that here. But I’ve grown tired of what my friend Tony Martell has called “know-it-all do-nothings” – the sort of people whose routine was fresh in 2016, but has gotten stale, useless, and increasingly annoying as time has gone by. Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear knows how bad things are. Continuing to complain about it, at this point, just comes across as mopey, impotent whining. Yes, we all know that things are bad and likely to get worse. So what do we do now? Here, an answer that will save the world is too much to ask of anyone (and probably fantasy anyway). But what you can do to help yourselves, your families, and your communities, even on the smallest of scales, is more useful than all the snarky blackpilling that the internet can muster. So I will share with you ideas from my own journey, wisdom I have learned from others, and ideas for the future.
I plan to keep up my pre-2017 pace of one or two articles a month. I know that’s a lot less than other writers, but I put a lot of care and thought into what I say, and it often takes me a while to figure out how to say it just right. But – with any luck, at least – I won’t be disappearing for so long a period ever again. My next article should be posted very shortly, so check in again in the next couple of days.
And thank you for sticking with me.
(P.S. Another thing that has changed is my email address. In the future, please use firstname.lastname@example.org)