I’m off to a family reunion on my wife’s side today. My wife’s whole family are all as deep south as you can get, as are all of my friends and family in this area; the scientific term for their species is “redneckus maximus”. For example, as my father-in-law was packing the cooler this morning, it was decided that if even one Ice House had to be removed to make room for the dessert, the dessert would just have to stay.
My wife and I moved from Pensacola, FL to Charlotte, NC in October 2004, after I found a job there with a design firm on our way back to Florida from the hurricane Ivan evacuation. Our time in a fast, busy, exciting city was wonderful; there was always something incredible going on, always something unique to see, always something fun to do. If you can’t have fun in Charlotte, you need to get yourself checked for clinical depression. What’s more, the Charlotte economy is booming. Better than a big city, Charlotte is a growing city. There’s no better time to live in a place than when it’s on its way up, and Charlotte is a shooting star (yes, I know that shooting stars are actually old space rocks that are plumeting to an earthly doom in a burst of hellish flames; it’s a figure of speech, scooter, so try to follow along). Commerce flourished in Charlotte, and my company was right in the middle of it all.
During our first year of free frollicking and big ambitions, there was something that kept slowly turning in the back of my mind. Subtle and virtually imperceptible at first, it thrived and grew in the fertile soil of isolation. I can honestly say that I was practically oblivious of its existence until its metamorphosis had reached a pinnacle (I’ll try to keep the flamboyant scribery to a minimal, I promise). Every time we went back to Florida to visit our friends, family, and church family, the times were always good, and the relationships were always growing closer. My relationship with my in-laws has always been good, but missing their nearness after our distant move made those relationships become truly great when the “for granted” was gone and every moment with them was important. It released an untapped resource in my heart to take advantage of those moments to actually communicate, instead of just shooting the bull.
My breaking point came when my former employer, a medium-sized print shop in Pensacola, tried to talk me into coming back. Negotiations between them and myself went on for a couple of months, and they taught me a whole new level of patience. We never reached agreeable terms, but I’m thankful that the negotiations took place, because they helped to shed light on the growing desire for home that had been screaming for attention in my heart and my wife’s.
We ended up returning home with my current employer in tact. I don’t think it was necessarily a mistake to be gone for awhile; after all, we had a lot of fun, I got a great job out of it, and what’s even better, I now get to work from my home. But I have learned a great lesson from our adventures in Charlotte. Big ambitions are not worth sacrificing the nearness of family. And if that makes me a redneck, too, then by-golly, pass the chewin’ tobbacci.