This weekend marks 16 years since my husband and I met — an event that, at the time, seemed inconsequential but was clearly anything but. I’d rolled into town around 5 a.m. that Sunday morning after an all-night drive from Florida. I’d spent four years away at school, but now I was home and a little sad and embarrassed that I was back.
My best friend, Cassie, wasn’t going to let me wallow, though, and insisted I come over to the apartment where their group hung out every night. Aah, remember when you were young and could hang out late with friends … on a Sunday night … and be good to go on Monday? Those were the days.
So I went to the apartment and was introduced to quite a few soon-to-be-friends, including the shy guy whose apartment I was in.
Two months later that shy guy asked me out, and here we are … 16 years later, celebrating each other and a new important anniversary together — for this week marks our first full year in Walton County.
It was Sunday evening, June 7th, 2020, that I left Ryan and the girls and made the 3-hour trek to start my new job at The Walton Tribune. What turned out to be a highly unusual work week was complemented by me finding us a home, and Cassie joined all of us here that weekend to celebrate our new chapter.
Anniversaries are for both revelry and reflection, and I’ve been doing a little of each over the past week. Most people are a bit flabbergasted that my husband and I moved our girls in the midst of a pandemic. But it worked for us. Our girls are happy here. They enjoy their schools and they’ve made new friends. They’ve picked up new hobbies, like music and acting and gymnastics.
My husband and I are happy here, too. He and I’ve made new friends, as well. We enjoy the local festivals, and have fun exploring Athens and Covington and Decatur. We’ve found new favorite restaurants and I can’t tell you how nice it’s been this year to have such close access to multiple Targets.
I’ve written before about all that I miss in Alabama, our friends and family being top of the list. I’ve also written about everything we’re loving here, and new people, places, and things are added every day.
My husband and I always talked about moving away, about waiting for the right moment. It’s funny, though — once we got here, within a few months we started talking about moving to a big city, maybe somewhere up north where they experience actual seasons. It was only in April that we had a family discussion and finally determined … that we didn’t want to go anywhere. It was time to stop always thinking about “the next move” and instead plant some real roots.
That’s how we came to the decision that we’re here to stay for the next chapter, and the next, and the chapter after that … and while I can’t be sure that we’ll be here for another 16 years together, right now there’s nothing but #WaltonStrong in our sights.
* This column first appeared in The Walton Tribune on June 5, 2021 *