Beau always said he married the right woman for the military. Which you would find funny if you were there, on that strained night when I locked myself in my closet so my roommate could not hear. I picked up the phone and cried and told my boyfriend that I can’t get past one thing, I couldn’t marry a military man.
We all know how that ended.
We did get married and moved to Florida. Florida was home for 2 years and I have the best and worst memories from that time. Then we picked up and moved to Columbia. Which was mostly lonely until the last year when we fell in love with so many people that I could hear my heart rip open when we drove away.
But I love the adventure and I always look forward to what is next. Every state, every culture is another signature of the One I want to know most.
So now we are here in California. And this move was the hardest. Which is curious because in the quiet of my room at the tumultuous age of 10 I remember thinking to myself, “I belong in California.” I had never been there – actually I had never been further west than Colorado at that point.
But at age 26 I let Beau take my hand and I very neatly folded up my dreams for California. And dreams have to be put somewhere. So, I placed it in that back corner of the heart – the exact place where we hope there is quicksand, so things will never resurface. This is where the wild things are.
Never once did I think I made a mistake. I would take Beau over a place 1,000 times. But as these stories go, one day, 4 years into marriage, he called me and told me he would be stationed in Los Angeles for our next assignment. Now is a good time to mention that God keeps teaching me about “eithers” and “ors.”
I think, either this or that. He has consistently surprised me with this AND that.
Military and California.
It was 20, I think. Twenty homes we looked at in the first two months we arrived in California. In that two months we hopped from airbnb to airbnb and became expert level guests. We lived out of a suitcase and were reminded of how little we need to get on with daily life. We graciously ate at all the local places – trying to remember that we are now locals too.
We narrowed it down to two homes and they could not have been more different.
Both were nearly the same price but one of them was much further from the ocean. It was large and had the most up to date appliances. It had a dishwasher and a jacuzzi tub. The walk in closet had enough room for the washer and dryer and I thought, also a guest bed :) This house had a movie room complete with a very expensive and very large projector.
It had a large gourmet kitchen that I nearly drooled over. Beau watched me stand in the that space and get lost in dreams of all the meals I would cook here.
Then there was the beach home, the one we live in. The home we could walk to the beach from. It is old and small. Nothing had been updated in awhile. There is no dishwasher. There is one, tiny bathroom. It is across a gorgeous park where there is what we call a doggie meet every evening at 5pm. And right around sundown everyone emerges from their homes and walks to the beach.
You could not exist in this area without being known. Without being a gracious neighbor.
So we’re here in our home. Our tiny spec of a home. And I love it. Last week we moved in and it was the largest purge of our lives. Everything we had owned and collected over 5 years of marriage went through our hands. Most of it was given away. And the exact moment when I put the last book on our shelf and everything was in its proper place, I felt emotionally and mentally lighter than I had been in a long time. We were nearly stuff-less.
We’re learning to be neighbors again. The kind of neighbor I always wanted to be. Because we live in the top of a duplex and very close to the other homes. So respect and friendship is the name of the game. Our neighbors below us quickly reached out and took us to the cutest wine shop for wine flights and cheese during our first week. We shared life together, in-between bites of fluffy goat cheese on crackers slathered with wild jams and sips of wine. We learned that we have a lot in common. In fact, they assured us that we have the exact right personality type for this beach town. Everyone here prefers to be near the beach over things and large homes.
And from that common trait stems a multitude of others.
I am happy and I am observing. I am trying to remember how to treat a place and its people like home. And not just like we’re visitors.
Also? I am excited to make new recipes in this house and to share them with you!
I am excited to write in this home. In fact this is the exact home I will write my first book. Because last week I signed my first book contract with Thomas Nelson. Which has put me in a state of speechlessness and shocked humility and so this is the best way I know how to tell you. To just tell you.
And I will tell you more soon.