Let’s start right out with me admitting that I have a very, very good life here in East Tennessee. I am happily married to a great fella. I have four healthy children. I have a great job with an excellent company, and I get up every morning happy to go in to my office. I also get to write on the side, which is super important to me.
We have a giant old house that needs a ton of work, but I love it and it feels like home. I also love the garden I’ve worked so hard to create in recent years, and I am blessed with more good friends than I deserve. I also have family nearby – my awesome in-laws plus my sister and nieces and nephews, and more family only three hours away. And to top it off, I even like my family (most of the time anyway!)
Yes. Life is good. And I am grateful for this every single day. I never, ever take my exceptionally good life for granted, even after having experienced the worst loss that a human being can experience. Even after losing my son, I am able to feel gratitude and joy for all that I do have.
But ever since Henry died, I have had this nagging feeling in the back of my head that as good as my life is, its also really, really important not to waste a single second of a single day because you just never, ever know what could happen. I used to feel like I had all the time in the world to do all the things that I knew that I eventually wanted to do. But now I know in a very visceral, gut-punching way that this is NOT the case. We do NOT get all the time in the world to do everything we want to do in life. And that means that it’s important to be sure that if there are some items on your bucket list that really, truly matter to you, it’s best not to ignore them until it’s too late.
I don’t have too many big items on my own bucket list. I mean, look at all the happy blessings I just listed above; is there anything else I could possibly want in my life? Could I be any luckier? Would it be terribly greedy of me to really, really want to do just ONE more thing before I get too old to enjoy it?
What is that one thing, you may ask? Well, it’s pretty simple actually. I want to live on or very, very near the beach – at least for a few years. I want to live in a beach town where I can walk barefoot to the water’s edge, or ride my bike, and where I can smell the salt air at night when I sit out on my porch. I want to walk on the beach with my family after our work/school day is done, and I want to teach my kids to build sand alligators, just like my grandmother taught me when I was a little girl growing up in southern California.
I really, REALLY want to find a way to continue to work and progress in my employment, which I love, but also get to enjoy my beach fantasy. And just to be clear, I am not envisioning a fancy beach place right on the water. No, I’d be happy to be within a few blocks. I could even be happy with a townhouse or even the right apartment. After all, once E leaves for college in only 2 years, it will just be me, Jon and the two little girls still at home, meaning we could happily live in a very small cottage or townhouse with only two bedrooms and one bath.
As for which beach town I’d want to live in, well, I gotta say that Southern California would be my top choice. I love pretty much everything about the little cities and towns that dot the South Bay, including the weather. As I grow older, I find that I am increasingly totally unable to deal with any cold weather whatsoever (it’s 55 degrees this morning and I am freezing). So if we could swing that – SoCal – I’d be thrilled.
But I also adore the low country of South Carolina – Edisto and Pawley’s Islands in particular where our family has spent so many happy and amazing summers. But it does get chillier there in the winter, and as I get older, I am craving sunshine, sunshine and more sunshine.
The way I figure it is that we cold rent out our house here in Knoxville after E heads off to college (J is already a college freshmen), and then rent a small, 2 bedroom place in some sweet little beach town for Jon and the little girls and me to enjoy an adventure for at least a year or two. Obviously, there are logistical issues, like figuring out how to convince my (awesome) employer to let me work out of the L.A. area for a year or two – or even telecommute. And we’d have to get schools sorted out for the girls… Plus, I’d have to get Jon as enthused about this idea of a beachy adventure as I am.
So is this a totally nutso idea? Increasingly, I am just not okay with declaring that I may live out the rest of my days without at least a few years of beach town-livin’. It’s truly the one item on my life-list that I don’t want to die saying I never did it. I looooooove the beach and beach towns. I really feel like that’s where I belong.
Have you ever decided to just close your eyes, take the leap, and move somewhere you’ve always wanted to live, even when the logistics seemed daunting or even overwhelming? What prompted you to just go for it? How did you work out all the details, especially if you were already pretty well settled where you were already living? What did your family and friends say? And do you have any regrets? Tell me your own “life list” locale story in the comments below…
And here’s a little video I shot of our family’s annual trip to Pawley’s Island. This one was in 2011, the year right after we lost Henry.
Here’s a legend so you know what you’re looking at.
Part 1 – NC and C playing in the sand
Part 2 – C doing what she calls her “freeze dance”
Part 3 – Cousins, C, NC and N jumping the waves
Part 4 – (best part!) – NC’s daddy trying to teach her to skimboard. She’s only THREE in this video!
Part 5 – Our family did some special things together to honor and remember our Henry at the beach this year – our first trip since he died. One of them was the “First Annual Henry Memorial Pablo the Seagull Calling Contest.” Henry looooved feeding seagulls, and for some inexplicably Henry-humor reason, he liked calling many of them variations on the name “Pablo.” Our contest – which will now be an annual event with awards given out – involved having all the cousins go out onto the beach with bread and attempt to get the seagulls to behave in various ways. I caught a snippet of the start of the event.
Read more from Katie over at her personal blog, BIG GOOD THING