I've been quiet due to exciting news: I've traveled to the East coast to find our family a new home! We move this summer, back to the charming North Carolina town we left three years ago, and we couldn't be more thrilled. As a military family, we've lived in many places throughout my husband's career. I've struggled at times to find my own place among those many places, but I've also been amazed to appreciate and even love parts of this country I might never even have visited if not for this life (Arizona...I'm looking at you).
Now it's time to move again. This will be our first time moving back to a place. I am grateful it's a place we love, a place our kids still remember and a place where we all thrived. I am scared, too, because moving is always difficult and because I'm afraid I may have built this place up in my mind to be just a bit better than it really is. I had that fear sitting in my chest when I landed in Raleigh a week ago, rented a car and pulled onto the highway. As I drove, I wondered if anything is ever really the same. Can we go back, and if we do, will things have changed so much it is like going to another new place but without the sense of adventure that always accompanies a new place?
As I drove into town, the sun was just setting off to my left (I don't do north/south/east/west). I pulled onto May Street and drove alongside horse farms, horses blanketed and settling in the for the night. I drove through the town's center, across the railroad tracks, past the ice cream parlor and train station. I think I was holding my breath, if not literally then at least figuratively. Would I still love it? I'd fought hard to get us back to this place. I'd asked my husband to give up different assignments, some of which could have bettered his career, to bring us back here. What if I didn't love it? What if it fell flat?
I heard the train roll into town, and as I navigated the streets, I had the strangest feeling. It was the way people describe coming out of surgery, as if no time has passed at all. They wake up and those several hours during surgery are just gone, in a flash, nothing more than a few seconds. That's what it feels like to be back, pulling onto Broad Street or sweeping past the many golf courses and clusters of pine trees so famous in this region. It feels like home.
I am house hunting now, as we'll live in a new area. Our kids will attend different schools. We are a little older. The town has a few new shops and restaurants. New homes are going up daily. The area is growing, and so are we. My kids are three years older, which is huge in kid years. The time goes so fast. I stopped by a friend's house the other day, a woman I hadn't seen in three years, and as I sat in her kitchen her son walked in. He was a kid when I last saw him; now he's just shy of being a man. How much of life is lived in the blink of an eye.
A few days of being here has solidified for me that this is our place and our decision to go back will be okay. I know it won't be perfect; nothing ever is. But I can feel this place, like an old friend or a sweater that has been worn so long it's ragged with softness. It's comforting to know my way around, to not suffer the continual, low-level stress of getting lost daily in a new town, to see familiar faces and places and to know there are places I can stop by with no notice and sit in a friend's kitchen and talk about the day.
Wish me luck in finding a wonderful home, and I hope everyone is happy and well. I can't wait to scour the east coast for baby finds and adorable southern bits and stories. If there is ever a place for stories....this is it. :)