“What is he smoking?” I asked myself. “He’s in Wyoming!”
Out West to retrieve our daughter after a wilderness program, during an idle period in what could easily be the last of many visits to Dubois, my husband had been looking around with a realtor. He called me back in Brooklyn to say, half jokingly (or so he says now), that he’d found our dream house.
The idea of upping stakes and moving to Wyoming seemed utterly loony at the time. For one thing, I liked my job. How would I ever be able to work there?
Wyoming is fabulous, I thought, but it’s for vacations — not for real life.
Gradually, as remote work became a possibility, I had a re-think. It took about 15 years for us to relocate completely.
Perhaps the turning point for the permanent exodus was when we found ourselves trapped yet again in noisy Manhattan traffic and my husband, a lifelong New Yorker, called out, “I hate this city!” These days, pulling to the top of the driveway, he sometimes murmurs “I’ll just slip into traffic,” although no cars are visible in either direction.
For biomedical engineer Bill Sincavage and his wife Lori, who lived in the Boston area, that decision also arrived fairly slowly.
Like us, they had discovered Dubois on vacation, returned several times, and eventually began to dream of living here full-time. Like me, Bill could work remotely, and Lori was ready to retire. (Soon after moving here, she returned to teaching, in our elementary school.)
Bill told me it took four or five years for them to come around to the decision to relocate to the West. Today he has a second calling: He also earns income online as a wildlife photographer.
In these almost post-pandemic days, that same impulse seems to be striking a younger generation with the same force but much more rapidly, if you can credit the words of New York Times reporter Kevin Roose. “[F]or a growing number of people with financial cushions and in-demand skills,” he wrote on April 22, “the dread and anxiety of the past year are giving way to a new kind of professional fearlessness.”
For them it’s taking place long before retirement is in the picture. He mentions a 33-year-old lawyer in Florida, a 29-year-old reporter in Brooklyn, a 29-year-old buyer for a major clothing retailer, and an unnamed executive at an unnamed “major tech company.” For all of them, Roose writes, the pandemic has spurred a YOLO (you-only-live-once) kind of decision to step off the corporate ladder and opt out of the urban rat race.
Due to pre-vaccine self-isolation, I haven’t yet laid eyes on my new friend Klaus Goodwin, an executive with a Boston-based pharmaceutical firm, although he moved to Dubois last October from Richmond VA. For Klaus and his husband Eriks, that relocation took only a year.
They went to see Yellowstone in September 2020, and soon began scouting all over Wyoming to find a new hometown. After visiting many other locations in the state, they chose Dubois.
“We fell in love with the Wind River Valley area,” he told me, “and decided to settle in Dubois since we found our dream house here on the top of a mountain with gorgeous views.” The mildness of the winters and the small-town feel also drew them to Dubois, as well as the fact that in Dubois they “experienced an openness for ‘otherness’ as a married, gay couple.”
Having discovered for themselves the general tolerance and cultural diversity for which Dubois is esteemed among those in the know, yet another urban couple has made the unconventional choice of moving to our tiny village at the edge of Western wilderness.
A ”daredevil spirit” seems to be infecting even the “cautious over-achievers,” Roose writes in his article, “… a feeling that the economy is changing in ways that reward the crazy and punish the cautious.”
That’s actually nothing new at all. People have been taking “crazy” risks to come this way for generations. Just now, it all seems to be happening much faster.
© Lois Wingerson, 2021