Exactly one year and one day ago our house looked like this:
Our home on Thornbird Circle, in Boiling Springs, South Carolina, was being packed away, ready to be hauled to Jonesville, Virginia. Scott was finishing residency at Spartanburg Regional, preparing to return to his home of Lee County, where he would set up his medical practice & fulfill his dream (calling) of being able to take care of his family and friends. Libbey (who was 15 months at the time) and I were just along for the ride, because we didn't care where we lived...as long as the three of us were together.
Before Scotty & I married in 2000 I knew that he wanted to return to his teeny, tiny mountain hometown. I knew that I'd be far from such conveniences as Target, Walmart (which we now have--woo!), Taco Bell, Chick-fil-a, Hobby Lobby and Starbucks. I knew we'd have to find & buy land on which to build a house because there aren't really any neighborhoods or subdivisions here. I knew it would be a blessing for us to live so close to his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, especially for Libbey's sake. I wanted her to grow up surrounded by family (and trust me when I say that mygirls are related to half of Lee County, in some form or fashion--I'm not kidding!), even though it meant being 6.5 hours from my parents, brother and nephew in Georgia. (That's what roadtrips are for!) In short, I knew it would be hard for me at first...being away from "city" life, living in a town where everyone knows everbody else--and privacy is something found only when your doors are locked and windows are down! And even then all bets are off, as I can't count the number of times someone has shown up on our front porch, at night or in the early morning, with a medical problem of some sort.
One year ago today--April 29, 2003--we returned to southwest Virginia and moved into a rental house in the west end of the county. We nicknamed it the "Love Shack," as it was very Brady Bunchesque...complete with lots of wood paneling, various shades of shag carpeting, and trippy light fixtures that could only be found these days on eBay. Witness:
The master bedroom, resplendent with red shag, Holly Hobbyish wallpaper, and a pink tiled bathroom--big enough to turn around in. Once. Wish I had a photo of the chandelier from the kitchen. It was a wagon wheel. I can't make this stuff up, folks. Upon hearing about our new dwelling place, Vicki very sweetly sent a Better Homes and Gardens decorating book. From 1968. Very appropriate, let me tell you. She knew we'd need all the help we could get. Never could get that lava lamp to work, though. Oh well.
And here's Scott, standing in the exact spot in which, one year later, mushrooms would grow. In the carpet. I'm not kidding. There was a fungus among us and yes, it was by far one of the nastiest things we'd ever seen. And this coming from a physician who's lanced boils, removed various body parts, drained appendages, and sewn flesh. Euuuuwwwwww...I get creeped out just remembering it.
About 5 months after moving into the Love Shack (or as Libbey now calls it, "Our gross old house!"--she remembers the mushrooms, no doubt!) God led us to land in Pennington Gap, which is in the eastern part of Lee County. We bought it at auction for a ridiculous price. Ridiculous because we purchased 17 acres for what half an acre would cost in my hometown in Georgia. Because God is good that way. Five months after becoming certified landowners we began construction on our house. Our final house...we like to say that we're gonna live here 'til we die or Jesus returns, whichever happens first. Because honestly, we were just over the whole moving deal. We moved to South Carolina one week after getting married, and moved to Virginia three years later. We then had to move from the rental to our new home, and by that time I was newly pregnant with Caroline. So this is how we handled the relocation task:
Ok, ok...just kidding! This was actually taken last summer. It was my father-in-law's idea of the easiest way to move new patio furniture to the upstairs porch. Turns out he was correct--all the pieces (heavy wrought-iron chairs and a glider, I might add) were in place in about 10 minutes. Scott Sr. is very handy to have around, in case I haven't sung his praises enough.
We actually moved into our new house on our 5th anniversary, April 8, 2005. Caroline arrived a little over six months later and the four of us have been happy and blessed in our home sweet home ever since. See? God is good. All the time.
It's been half a decade since I've become a small towner. Ninety-nine percent of the time I adore it, which shocked me at first. My mother was truly thankful, though--for months she worried about me living in the "country," in "the middle of nowhere," where "everybody knows your business." I've handled it well, huh, Mama? Living in Pennington has taught me a lot...about family, friendships, community, and being surrounded by people whom I feel honored to have in my family's life. Like Mikey, I like it...I really like it! Even better than Life cereal!
I do have moments of utter discontent, I must confess..."TARGET...oh, Target...45 minutes away...wah-wah-wah!" These times are fleeting because I usually get there for my bi-monthly fix and all is well. But then Kelly mentions going to "Stuportarget" (her term for Super Target--great, huh?) at least twice a week and I get a little squirmy. And then there are the times, such as this morning, when we're on the way to school, a regular morning thus far. Upon reaching the end of our road Libbey yells, "WHAT? Look! Where is our mailbox?" Apparently it was stolen last night. The entire thing. What some people will do for drug money. I kid you not. How sad is that? It's bad enough we drive 1/2 a mile just to retrieve our post, but to have the entire thing ripped from our posession? That's just wrong, man. Hope the high is worth it, you rogue thugs.
So...it's been five years. Five years today. It seems like five minutes ago...truly. Much has happened over these years. Caroline joined our family and we are now complete. Aunt Mitzi died in June of '03...Papaw Smith and Uncle Frankie in May of '04...Aunt Doris last Christmas. Litton Family Medicine keeps growing and the nurses/staff there are truly the best in the county, and members of our extended family. We were blessed with a niece, Eliza, in October of '06...her baby sister, Helen, arrives in about 6 weeks. Libbey completed three years of library school (we love you, Ms. Sherry!), played T-ball and soccer, and is performing in her 4th dance recital next month. She's almost finished her first year of kindergarten and thinks Lee County is the center of the universe. Caroline is the most blessed of all, though...she's never known a life apart from these mountains, surrounded by most of her family. My prayer is that when God moves her away from here--be it college, marriage, job, whatever--she'll have only gratitude for her upbringing. I pray this for both our girls, and for myself. Because I am growing up here, too. A little later in life, but still...I'm growing. It's been a good five years.