• Jill Reed, Ph.D.

I Traded a Sideboard for a Surfboard

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

Grieving the loss of our Virginia farm from lockdown in Costa Rica


I am in a state of grief and it’s not coronavirus pandemic related. I am grieving the loss of a sideboard kind of life. A life built upon deep Virginia roots and little boy bowties.

When I moved down here last summer, the decision to trade my brown furniture and orientals for the open living of the tropics and sand between my toes seemed clear cut. I was ready with every ounce of my being to embrace the surfboard, to spend my days on the ocean. The life we created and the business we grew on our gorgeous blue ridge farm was reaching its final chapter. We were both tired.

After nursing all of our parents through cancer, and I do mean every single one of them; after building up a superhost guest rental business; after collecting and caring for an ametuer farmer’s assortment of rescued animals; after having two little boys nearly back to back and carrying twins for a friend; after writing a dissertation and floundering in a post-mom new world of unemployment; after tirelessly coaching polo everyday, nights, weekends, and travel; after balancing the hustle of kids in school in the city, a teaching job in the country and the very happy little business on the farm… We were tired. I left the farm that July with a new sense of purpose, to start our lives in a foreign country, to give our kids an adventure. Au revoir, River Rock Farm. I’m checking you in the rear view. Except, the farm didn’t sell. And the months dragged on and we were apart. Then, once we were together, the pandemic of coronavirus struck. During an apocalypse, the farm in Virginia started to look really appealing. My resolve was unprepared for an international pandemic. My brain went into overdrive. We debated the plans, the options before us. The last flights were leaving the country for the states. We gambled. We let the flights leave. We’ve been in lockdown ever since. Costa Rica is beating back the virus and the health system is prepared. The government is taking serious precautions and backing them up with fines for non-compliance. Looking back at the states is a little embarrassing. There seems to be no plan at all, no lid on the chaos unfolding. Our decision feels safe, but we still wonder if, in a post-pandemic world of economic recovery, are we better off rolling up our sleeves and digging in on our farm? My brain has had time to reconsider what a move we have made. It has had time to stop and process. Days ago, a buyer emerged who wants to move so fast that they’re willing to forgo inspections and they’ll pay closing costs. Like Funny Farm, they want all our stuff. All of a sudden the safety net is crumbling. The chink, exposed by the pandemic, has been blasted wide open. The discussion of inherited antiques and rugs is happening all over again. Who will store them? Who needs them? Who should we offer them to if we’re willing to give them up with the farm? OMIGOD, I raised my babies in that place!

My mother died in that place. My kids’ footprints are in cement at the pool house. The raspberry groves, my garden of raised beds, my greenhouse, the chicken coop and tack shed where my kids snuck horse food and dried worms, the best pool with a deep end view of the blue ridge for days, the meandering year-round river perfect for dog walking, exploring, and tubing, the cabin in the woods, the snow in winter, the wood stove smell in the guest house, the fall parties, the birthday bashes, the end of year school celebrations with signature cocktail, rides in the bobcat, hay kicking, new baby lambs, rocking my baby at night with a full moon view of horses in the pasture quietly grazing, a baby face full of blackberry happiness, naked sprinkler days, sandbox afternoons, peepers on a spring evening, running out of my driveway for 6 miles of mountain scenery, swinging on the front porch, Thursday night dinners with best friends every single week. And so now I grieve. I grieve all of this and more. I grieve the loss of the sideboard and little boy bowties.

But my heart knows that I can raise Virginia gentlemen anywhere, even on a surfboard. New mantra: Embrace the opportunity.

#beachlife #blueridge #kids #movinginternationally #farm