All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves. Anatole France.
It’s been a strange winter for me. I don’t mean the weather, although that’s been strange enough. I mean strange as in introspective – not a quality I identify a lot with myself. I’ve always been one of those impulsive, spur-of-the-moment people. An idea will pop into my head, and without so much as three minutes of real thought, I’m off on some new project that usually turns out as well as it would have if I’d spent weeks planning each step.
Of course it doesn’t always work. My readers can remember quite a few times I’ve said, “This summer I’m going to do (fill-in-the-blank) on the blog.” And it just didn’t happen. A perfect example is last summer’s “Dog-Eared Page” – Lordy, what a disaster.
A few of my impulses have worked out pretty well though. This blog was an impulse. I remember, as we prepared to return to Mackinac for our first full summer, saying to myself, “I think I’ll try writing about the season on the Island.” I remember sitting down, opening the laptop, registering with WordPress.com and starting this journal of our lives that is about to enter its fifth year – 622 posts, over 650,000 visitors from all over the world.
An impulse idea that truly changed my world was when I said to Ted, “I think we should buy a summer home on Mackinac Island.” After Ted stopped laughing, he sat me down – bless his heart – and shared with me all the reasons that was never going to happen. I must have been temporarily deaf that day. When he saw I was serious, Ted went through all the gyrations he always does when making any decision – whether it’s buying a vacation home or deciding the nutritional differences between whole wheat and white bread. He studied all the resources available, made calls and wrote letters. And after weeks and weeks of research, he said to me one evening, “Ok, I think we can do this.”
I remember giving him a big kiss, a bigger hug and whispering in his ear, “I thought we could!”
Last November, after we arrived home and had a wonderful Thanksgiving here at the lake with all the cousins, I arose one morning with a nagging thought that would not let me go. I tried praying about it, tried to ignore it, tried to talk myself around it, tried to convince myself I was not really feeling what I was feeling.
But I was.
And what I was feeling was an intense need to nest. When I was honest with myself, I admitted that the feeling had begun on the island last summer. I felt as though as I was walking through the motions of living there. Whenever I thought of something I wanted to do at the condo, my first thought would be, “But why? I won’t be here much longer to enjoy it.” The same thing was happening here in Georgia. With all the work we’d done in the kitchen last spring, we left a week later and didn’t get to enjoy it for 5 months. Yes, it was here when we returned, but I could look ahead and see similar events like that through the coming years.
I have no idea why this has become such an issue with me now unless it’s an age thing – a deep internal craving to be settled, to be nested-in for good, to be at home – truly at home – at this time in our lives. Another factor is our grandchildren. They’re in Florida now, and we’ve seen them at least once a month since we’ve been home. But they’re not going to be able to come north this summer, so for the next 6 months we won’t see them. That was often the case when they lived in Arkansas, but now they’re only four hours away.
I finally approached the subject with Ted a few weeks ago and was so relieved to find he’d been having much the same conversation with himself – not the nesting thing, but concerns more on the practical side. Two houses are expensive to maintain, and nearly all our resources go toward keeping them up. We’d both like to travel more. We’d both like a home that we can make improvements on and be around all year to enjoy.
Over the last weeks, Ted and I have talked and soul-searched more than probably any other time in our marriage. After writing down list after list of pros and cons, what we’ve decided on is this:
Step one: This summer we will put our Mackinac condo on the market.
Step two: When we return in the fall (or if the condo sells, whenever we return to Georgia), we will put the lake house on the market.
Step three: When both have sold (we realize, of course, that it may be three weeks, three months, or three years before any of this happens), we want to relocate to the east coast of Florida somewhere around the Amelia Island/Fernandino Beach area.
As I just typed those steps, I am amazed at the calmness of my spirit. It didn’t come easily. As usual, when I am going through a turmoil of emotions, I first try to “go it alone”. It was only after I got down on my knees and turned it all over to God that I found my peace. My prayer was this: Lord, this is a tremendous change to think about in our senior years. I ask, whatever Your will is in our lives, that You only open those doors. If this move is pleasing to You, it will happen. If not, it won’t. We won’t force it. We put it all into your more than capable hands.”
When I stood from my prayer place on my knees by our bed, the peace came like a warm breeze whispering over me. From that moment on, I’ve been calm about what we are considering.
I know to most of my readers, and our friends and our family that all this is more than surprising. My deep love for Mackinac has not changed, and I believe it will forever be my heart’s home. I don’t intend to give it up. One of our ideas is to continue to spend a couple of months there in the summer. But we will be coming as visitors, not as residents. There is no part of me that longs to let go completely of my magical Mackinac.
Ted and I both deeply love our home and friends at the lake, and leaving here will be hard. But most of our friends here are beach people also, and I have a feeling they will visit us much more often in Florida than they did in Michigan.
Finally, I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that Ted and I both must have a pint or two of gypsy blood flowing in our veins. Hopefully, if all this works out and we land ocean-side, that gypsy blood will have thinned out enough for us to ignore it for the rest of our lives.
Why the beach? While I found my heart’s home on Mackinac, Ted’s heart has always belonged to the ocean – to sandy beaches and warm, tropical winds. I love the beach also – not as much as my husband, but enough to think our lives would be rich, peaceful and fulfilled there. The added plus is we would only be a couple of hours from our grandchildren.
So today is the beginning of the new normal for Ted and I. We will pack up for Mackinac and move northward – just like the last six summers. If the condo does not sell, we are planning a fabulous season on the island, and we’ll be back in Georgia in November. If it does sell, we’ll be back earlier.
From now on, there will only be one blog – the one from Mackinac – although it’s name will change as our lives change. From this point on, we will be focused on transitioning into our forever home.
I hope you choose to follow us on this journey. You, my readers, have become friends not only to me, but to each other. I love you all, and I’ve whispered your names into God’s ear on many occasions. You are such an important part of my life – I don’t want you to go away.
I know this is a lot to process, but the writing of it has helped me put it all into even more perspective. I can already fill the excitement of this next life’s journey taking hold.
Just as you followed me to Mackinac five summers ago, I hope we can take this next step together.