If you get hungry for anything other than ice cream in my new town, you’re gonna have to drive for a while. The nearest grocery store is miles and miles and then more miles away. I thought this would be a drawback of living here, but so far it hasn’t been. When everything’s inconvenient, a girl’s To Do list shortens itself dramatically. Mine looks like this these days:
3.Write something down.
4. Grow out bangs.
I’m sure that over time, other things will try to sneak themselves back on to my list. But I’m going to interview those things very, very thoroughly before I give them permission to come aboard.
The grocery store is about twenty miles and three stop lights away, and in between here and there are farms. Wide open green space after wide open green space. The fields are like water with their calming effect. They remind me that space and emptiness are needed to grow something new. And that all we really have to do in this life is plant some seeds and keep them watered, and God will take care of the rest.
The first time we drove by the farms, Tish looked out the window and said, “Mommy, the soccer fields here are HUGE!” Usually, I’d let that go, because I have a lot of kids and learned a long time ago that I can’t explain everything. You know how important energy conservation is to me. But I was having a good day so I said, “Actually, Tish, those are the fields where the farmers grow our crops.”
I felt proud of myself. I decided that was probably quite enough homeschooling for one day.
A few days later, as we were driving by the farms again, Tish said proudly, “Amma. Look at those fields. That’s where the farmers grow our Crocs!”
Close enough, I thought.
With one rather important exception.
Bubba taught us to NEVER QUIT. Growing up, it was important to think twice, for example, before taking up gymnastics or the viola, because you just knew you would be turning cartwheels while fiddling at your own funeral. I really do appreciate and respect his position on this. His mentors are Vince Lombardi and Joe Paterno, after all. But I have a very different position than he does about quitting. I think quitting is exactly the right thing to do sometimes. I actually love quitting. It often takes a lot of quits to find the right fit. I think sometimes quitting something that’s not working requires a lot of self awareness and courage.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently. Because my family is about to make a BIG quit and a BIG New Try.
The Meltons are quitting life as we know it.
We’re responding to a feeling down deep in our souls, in that place that won’t be ignored, that our family needs something different. Something other than the high paced life we’re struggling to keep up with right now. This is how I feel about raising three children and a marriage and trying to keep track of the PTA meetings and birthday parties and fundraisers and thank you notes and athletics and play dates and girls’ nights out and storytimes and life in the suburban fast lane. Just this. This is Craig and me. Everyday. Obviously, I’m Lucy, for too many reasons to discuss today. Craig is Ethel. Just imagine her with better abs.
In short, we feel like a family stuck on a roller coaster who would prefer to be pulled along gently in a Radio Flyer Wagon. And for years we’ve dreamed of dropping out. Of literally stepping back from the conveyor belt, slowing down, and focusing up. In three weeks, we’re doing it.
It’s been a tough year for our family. The Lyme has changed us forever. Mostly for the good, as far as I can see.
Monkees, we’re moving.
We’re pulling our kids out of school, packing our bags and renting a little house on the Chesapeake Bay in a Norman Rockwell town in which the only store is the Ice Cream/ Gossip shop. We won’t have a mall or restaurants or beauty salons but we will have a big front porch to sit on and watch our neighbors walk by and a back porch to watch the fishing boats haul in their catches for the day. And that’s what we’re gonna do.
We’re going to sit on our dock of the bay and watch time roll away. We’re going to count oyster shells and catch crabs and spend Sundays at the local church and then walk to the farmers’ markets. We’re going to hike the half mile to Bubba and Tisha’s house for dinner, or maybe kayak over on an especially nice evening. My girls and I are going to wear sundresses and flip flops exclusively. Chase is going to carry his fishing pole around like Huck Finn. We’re going to say ya’ll a lot and try hard to develop some sort of accent. I have no idea what else we’re going to do with our time. I guess we are going to do whatever it is that people do when there is nothing else to do. Except drugs. I really hope there are other options.
I’m aware that all of our problems won’t be solved by moving. As Bubba says, “Wherever you go, there you are.” But I think it’s worth a try. I want to honor each of the deep desires of my soul, in case God put them there as the stepping stones toward my best life. So, I am going to honor my soul’s desire to live in a place that matches my insides a little closer. My insides are slow. I want to live in a place where it’s okay to be slow.
I want to have no schedule, nothing on my To Do list other than enjoy my kids and read and write and pray and heal. Not just from the Lyme, from everything. I want fewer options, less noise, fewer cars and stores and outings that require dressing nicely. I want more space, not like walk-in-closet- space but can’t- see- another-soul-space. I want more empty time. I want to learn how to relax. I want to deal with fewer people more intimately. I want to go to a small town church every Sunday morning. I actually want to plant a garden, which is a desire I find absolutely inexplicable. I want there to be fewer things I have to buy. Fewer meetings to forget about. Less less less. I just want Craig. And my kids. And my mom and dad. And the water.
We’ve rented our little water house for six months. Maybe we’ll be back sooner. Maybe we’ll never be back. I absolutely love not knowing.
To anticipate a few of your questions…Yes, we will keep our house here, Craig will commute back and forth. He’ll work from the bay house often. He can do that since he sells soft silverware. No, we can’t afford to do this. But more importantly, we can’t afford not to. And yep, I’m nervous about homeschooling Chase. As the #1 fan of public schools, I never planned to make this decision. But we all know that life is what happens when you’re making other plans.
So Chase. Listen Up, Brother. Homeschool Lesson #1:
When life gives you Lyme (or something comparable),
It becomes time to Follow your Dreams.
Even, especially, if they seem quite nonsensical and inconvenient.
Because that’s how you know they’re your dreams
And not someone else’s.
You’re Dismissed Honey. Now go check the crab pots.
P.S. Ya’ll come visit, you hear?