To say that we loved Butterfly Hollow is an understatement. It was our heart, filled our breath and became the core to almost everything we were. If someone would have told me in 1996 when we bought the abandoned, dilapidated property that four years later we would share it as a Bed and Breakfast, I would have giggled for sure. And if someone would have told me in 2004 that in ten years someone else will be the caretakers of this sanctuary and that we would get rid of almost every possession we own and live and travel in a camper, I would have rolled in laughter.
Just like the path that brought us down the lane to Butterfly hollow for the first time, the path we are on now, the one we secretly shared with each other and referred to as “Two Lanes of Freedom” was something that sprouted inside us many years before that December day in 2014 when our lives would change once again. It started in dreams. It was nurtured by trips we would take. It slowly took the form of a plan, and once we noticed that stars were starting to line up, we knew that another big change was on the horizon.
At times it was so unbelievable and inconceivable that we would often let the idea get covered up in realities, fear, and the comfort of knowing that the life we are living now is so wonderful and was once the great dream we had a few yesterday’s ago. The reality that pushed us the hardest was remembering that life is so very short. The loss of best friends, parents and pets kept us motivated to seize the day and to let change happen.
When the folder got created with our first notes for Two Lanes of Freedom, we didn’t have a clue what that road would lead us to or that we would even one day travel in a camper down this road. The main premise for our dream was really just change. We wanted to try something new while we were young enough and had no clue what it might be. It was an open book and we decided to start down the path with just an open mind and see where it went. In order for any form of change to happen in us we knew that we had to once again start by simplifying our lives. Once we began removing the clutter in our lives and in our minds, that is when things really started to come into focus.
Books found us like Live What You Love, by Bob and Melinda Blanchard, and First We Quit Our Jobs, by Marilyn Abraham, that began stirring our imagination. Websites encouraged us and turned us on to a whole group of people out there following this unbeaten path. We spent countless days and nights devouring the words and stories of fellow travelers like Howard and Linda Payne, Paul and Nina Fussing, Jason and Niki Wynn and Mark and Emily Fagan and slowly the change began to happen. We began planning a sabbatical of sorts and a way for us to take our little camper and travel the back roads of America for a year. The idea was not only to celebrate our 25 years of marriage by seeing and exploring this beautiful country of ours, but also to take this window of time and make ourselves more accessible to our families, visit some of our B&B friends and hopefully within a year we would find that special next place and new chapter in our life. A couple years before we would leave on this trip we began experimenting with sharing the hollow also as a vacation rental with hopes that this would be a way to continue to share the hollow while we were on our year long adventure, generate income and then if we did find a new place to call home, we would hopefully sell the hollow and officially move into the next chapter.
We decided to test everything the year before. The B&B is now just a vacation rental and wedding facility. Almost every chance we get that spring we are tugging our little turtle shell to some great Tennessee state park. We’d come back for weddings, to mow, weed, change the sheets and then off we were again. We were passing all the tests and markers I had in my head. Can we really be OK living in a 19 ft. x 8 ft. box? Check. Will the hollow be OK without us being there? Yep. Will we really like being in campgrounds? Oh YEAH. By the time June rolled around we were living in our camper full time. Even when we’d pull back into the hollow, we’d stay out in our little Happy Place. That summer we received a package in the mail from the record company that had filmed a music video in the hollow a few months earlier. In the package was not only the CD and video for Danielle Bradberry’s Album “Heart of Dixie”, but as an extra thank you, they also sent along a dozen other CD’s from artists on their label. When we ripped open Tim McGraws CD and cranked up his tune “Two Lanes of Freedom” for the first time, we looked at each other, smiling ear to ear. There was no stopping us now. We even have a song!
We knew that if we ever sold the hollow, most likely it would be just as a home and property and the possibility of someone wanting to continue our unique little B&B was pretty slim. We also knew that the longer it operates as a vacation rental the chances become even smaller. It would be so amazing if our Butterfly Hollow dream could somehow continue. How wonderful it would be if our past guests could all still come back. If this was going to happen we wanted it to be organic and just like the stars that had lined up to this point. So no realtors. No “For Sale” signs, but just a website that we published on July 8th to see if there were any fish in the water. Ten days later the bobber was under water. We had our first nibble.
By the end of the summer we had an offer. It felt surreal sitting on the porch with the potential new owners talking about the hollow and their plans for running the bed and breakfast. It didn’t really hit us until the day they came out for the inspections. Someone was inspecting our creation. There actually might be a tiny possibility that this is really going to happen. We quickly fell into a paralyzed panic knowing all the hurdles that were ahead, from appraisals, property surveys, the new owners securing funds and the chances were huge that something was going to fall apart. In the same breath, we also knew the crazy whirlwind of a tornado that we would find ourselves in if we actually did walk out of a closing and had to cram everything we own into either our camper or the pickup truck.
We decided to step out on faith and started making piles of our possessions. What we needed, what we wanted, what was sentimental, what could be sold and given away. The wanted and needed pile also had to be weighed so our stuff would not exceed our camper weight limits. We sat there many nights with tears flowing as we sorted our life into piles. We took truckload after truckload of things to the Goodwill; slowly revealing the floor beneath the piles. Each night we would return to our little camper parked in the driveway and a peace would come over us. There was something truly nice about the feeling of having everything I really need within an arms distance.
The day finally came and through our tears, we watched as Butterfly Hollow became the view in our mirror as Two Lanes of Freedom was playing from the truck speakers. We were sad beyond understanding to leave, but also have certainty that we are doing what is right for us. We believe, as we did 18 years before, that sometimes you have to step out of your life and walk away from what is comfortable to let metamorphosis happen. We also have great feelings about the new caretakers and that they are meant to step in and continue Butterfly Hollow from where we leave off. This is their metamorphosis too. We go, but a part of us will always be there. Our finger prints are stained on the wood. We’ve even buried some written stories in the walls for the next David and Sharon to discover when its time for the next renovation. The smiles from all our guests who shared time here will always be a reflection in the windows. Our love is still growing in the gardens. The memories of our time there together will echo forever in the woods and be a part of that warm, unexplained feeling when a new guest walks through the door today.