Header: A not-quite-ready Thanksgiving family photo taken by bonus son Matt.
I’ve been sitting here staring out the window for at least 20 minutes, wondering where and how to start this post. There are so many things to tell you, so many trips taken, so many ideas born and buried, and so many decisions prayed over and made. When I signed off in October I mentioned how tired Ted and I were – both mentally and physically. Physically, we’re better now. Mentally, this last month was at least, if not more, draining than October was.
Because there’s so much to tell I’m going to just stick with one subject tonight, and it’s probably the one you are most interested in. As the weeks and months go by, I’ll fill in some of the blanks, but tonight I’ll hit the high spots on where our month of soul and house searching has brought us.
What you don’t know is for our last two weeks on Mackinac, Ted and I spent days discussing whether we should buy something else on the island. We weren’t ready for our condo to sell – in fact, I think that last month we were truly shell-shocked to find ourselves without a place to live. As we frantically searched for something to lease next summer, we also began to explore houses for sell on the island. We found nothing fitting our criteria. Next we looked at lots and seriously considered building a home in Trillium Heights. We had the site picked out, and we found plans we loved. But . . . just before letting our hearts take over and make the emotional decision for us, we stepped back and said, “We really, really need to get away from the island before we take this path.” Our goal of being near our grandchildren and being near the beach would not be realized by building on Mackinac. If we took that step, the house there would have to be our permanent home. We would be further from the grandchildren for even longer periods of time.
After less than two weeks at the lake, we left for Florida. On the way to Ormond Beach, we stopped in and toured a new boating community at Beverly Beach called Sunset Inlet. Ted had seen it on-line and was intrigued by the homes having ocean views from one side and Intracoastal Waterway views from the other. We both liked Sunset Inlet a lot, but it was our first stop. We traveled on to Ormond Beach, where we spent time with Julie, Matt and the grandkids. While they were at work and at school, we rode with a realtor for two days to look at houses we had called him to set up. When we left there for Amelia Island, we had one home at the top of our list – an almost-on-the-ocean bungalow built in the 50’s that we both really loved – except there was no garage or even carport (NOT a good thing to be without in the salt air), and there was not room to build one.
We arrived on Amelia Island early enough to spend a few hours before dark with our realtor there. We had lots of houses lined up, but the only one we were really interested in was directly on the beach. We fell in love with it. It was our dream to be ON the beach, and here it was. But . . . it was only a little over 1,000 sq. ft. and it was a townhouse – which meant sharing a wall with someone else. After five years in a condo, we had adamantly decided “no more shared walls”. And once again, for the price, this would become our permanent home. Could Ted and I spend months and months together without any space to occasionally get away from each other. To be blunt, no. We looked at houses all the next day, some with views, some without. And then we went back and looked at the townhouse on the beach. Could we make it work? We left there undecided and started our trip back to Ormond Beach to watch Matthew play in his championship football game.
On the way back we passed once again through Beverly Beach, and we stopped again at Sunset Inlet. We toured the model home once more, talked to the builder, and called our realtor out to act as our agent. All of us were impressed with the quality of the homes (our agent said they were built like bunkers). The windows could stand the impact of 140 mph winds without storm shutters, and the entire home is built above hurricane building standards. But when we left for the lake the next day (Matthew’s team won!), we still had not made a decision.
Way back in the beginning of this process – in May – I said we’d be praying for God to open the doors He wanted for us and close those He didn’t want. What WE wanted, of course, was a house on the beach on Amelia Island. We loved that place, and one of the main reasons was it reminded us so much of Mackinac Island – a small community that swells in the summer and retreats in the winter back to the locals, a wonderful downtown, a historic district – even horse and buggy tours! But, after we returned home and talked with our Amelia Island realtor, doors began to shut rapidly. No, we probably couldn’t enclose the underneath parking or fence in the yard – or if we could, it would be difficult. No, there were no single family homes on the beach in our price range.
At the same time, each conversation with the developers at Sunset Inlet ended in “Yes, we can do that.”
With all that said, last Friday we sent our signed contract in to Sunset Inlet to build a two-story home, which should be ready about the time we’d normally be leaving for Mackinac Island. Beverly Beach is two miles north of Flagler Beach, two miles south of Palm Coast, and 30 minutes for our grandchildren. We’ll have a new house, views of the Intracoastal Waterway and the ocean, and a boat dock.
While all this was going on, I was having one heck of a time accepting that Mackinac Island was not going to be a big part of my life anymore. I can’t tell you how many times Ted said, “You really don’t sound very happy about any of these places in Florida.” I would reply, “I’m getting there, but it will take some time.” As days went by, and with me not totally on board, I realized that Ted couldn’t let himself get nearly as happy as he should have been – it’s hard to be happy when your partner isn’t. Since that realization, I’ve really begun to try and think more positively. I know that Mackinac will always be with me, whether I have to enjoy it through memories or through periodic visits. I’ve even come to terms with the fact that unless our lake house sells quickly, we might not get to Mackinac at all this summer, although Ted has promised he’ll get me there somehow – even if it’s only for a short visit. I know that once the lake house sells, we’ll be on the island – as planned – for at least two months every year.
I came across two very good quotes today – one by Sarah Dessen in her book What Happened to Goodbye, and I’ll paraphrase it: “Home isn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. Home is wherever the people who love you are, whenever you are together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.” The other is by Tad Williams: “Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.”
I know that’s what I have to do now. I have to take all the memories from all the places I’ve loved and called home and put them together inside my head so I’ll always have them all. To those, I’ll add what will be our Florida home at the beach – a place I know I will come to love with a passion over the years to come.
So – what about this blog?
From the thoughts stated above I’ve realized I can’t continue to write a blog exclusively about Mackinac Island. To do so is to set myself up to never let myself completely love our future home. The same is true about the lake blog. When our house here sells, I will have to put it together in my “head home” with Mackinac, where it will live forever.
So here’s the plan. Sometime in the next week or so, I will post a link here to a brand new blog – title undecided as yet. In it I’ll continue to write about our family, our dogs, our new home and our old ones. When we visit Mackinac, it will all be recorded, as will any other trips we take – for however long. I’ll also continue to update you with photos from the Island (both winter and summer), but on this new blog – NOT on the Mackinac blog. Both the Mackinac AND the Lake Blackshear blogs will remain on-line forever, and can be read in their entirety by new readers (and old) whenever they/you wish. I do this with the full knowledge I’ll lose some readers who come here because of their love of Mackinac, and I am deeply saddened by that. But hopefully many of you will continue to tag along with the Hortons as we start this new life adventure at the beach. Surely there have to be a few beach lovers among you :)!
So there it is. The decision is made. I thank each of you who lifted prayers for this decision, even if the answer wasn’t what you prayed for. To be honest, it wasn’t what we prayed for either. But we do think it’s God’s next plan for us, so how can it possibly not be right. Love and hugs all around, and I’ll be back in a few days with a link to the new blog with Horton Thanksgiving pics and winter pics from Mackinac!