The Magic Dream Box
Breaking up is hard to do.
Even though it could impact our lives in the most positive and fruitful way, we weren’t sure about it. Well-meaning naysayers and cloying guilt racked my brain EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I thought about moving.
The lightning bolt gingerly poked my brain the first time we vacationed in Hilton Head, SC, but I though, naaahh – how would that be possible? Too expensive. Too isolated. Too southern. (I take that back. Can anything be too southern? No.) Too far away from two of my four adult kids that live close by (A toughie, for sure). Too much work to sell a house, and so on, ad nauseum.
I boxed the thought, tied it with sparkly ribbon, and put it on a shelf with a longing look and a promise to think about it. The second time we vacationed in Hilton Head, the lightning bolt didn’t poke, it stabbed. This is the life, my brain shouted! The Spanish moss! The friendly people! The lush, landscaped, cleverly hidden business parks amongst huge oaks and bicycle paths! The gated Plantations! Thousands of tennis courts! Lots of old people! (Threw that in to see if you were paying attention, but it’s true, and since we are old, it counts.) A zillion golf courses! (For Jim) Wine festivals! (for me) Huge literary community! The cutest and most convincing Realtor on the planet! (Ed, you know who you are.)
The cutest Realtor on the planet took us on a tour of the entire land mass – all 41
square miles of it – and within that tour we met a sun-wizened, keeper-of-the-community-pool sitting under a huge, yellow and blue striped umbrella, in one of the gated and fabulously landscaped Plantations. She asked my husband and I where we were from. When we told her, she laughed and said she was from the mid-Atlantic region too, and the first time she came to Hilton Head, she’d packed up and moved within six months. I asked her if she had kids, and had she moved away from them? She waved a hand in a dismissive gesture, and fixed her bright, brown eyes on my face.
“You just don’t worry about all that. They’ll come. My kids were here within a year. One’s in Charleston, and the other one lives right down the road.” She shrugged. “They always come.”
I mentally tucked her words into my little dream box.
A few weeks after I returned home, I plucked the box from the shelf, dusted it off, and untied the sparkly ribbon. Inside, I found scraps of paper with scrawled words: paint, landscape update, unclutter, shampoo carpet, wash windows, clean out storage shed, clean out closets, list the house, stage the house, and on and on and on and on and…you get the idea. I threw the box on the floor. The little scraps of paper flew all over the place. I sank into my comfy recliner, covered my eyes with my hands, and moaned in frustration.
My thoughts ran something like this: you’re too old for a change this big, you idiot. And this: after all the work you’ve done on this place you want to leave? And this: you go to the best church ever, for Pete’s sake, or, um, actually – for Christ’s sake – how will you find another one like it? And this: it’s not time for your husband to retire, what do you think you’re doing?! How will he find a job in Hilton Head, SC, population 37,000 in the off-season? And this, the biggest one of all: how often will you see your kids?
Dejected, I got down on all fours and scooped up the bits and pieces of paper and put them back in the box and put the box back on the shelf. I couldn’t find the sparkly ribbon anywhere. After stomping around my kitchen a few weeks, venting to my blessedly patient and immeasurably long-suffering husband, he started an exploratory job search, and to my surprise, found not one, but several options.
Encouraged, I made a list and chopped each task into bite-size pieces. The list stretched on for miles. I sighed, crumpled the list into a ball and crammed it in the box with the other stuff to ferment or something. Seven days later, I realized my brain had somehow tasked and calendared the work, scheduled a painter, scheduled a carpet shampoo, scheduled…well, to make a long story short, the crumpled list in the box married the tasks on the tiny scraps of paper, and voila! My dream sprouted wings.