The first time Erin visited me at William and Mary, my friend Abe looked at the two of us interacting and said, in horror, “Dear Lord, there are TWO of them.” And what these two continue to learn, as a pastor’s wife and military wife, respectively, is “never say never.” I glean daily from Erin’s surrender and resulting freedom – and her uncanny ability, as one who loves her home and family with crazy intensity, to create home and family wherever she goes…
In the past two years I have lived in five dwellings, four zip codes, three cities, two states, and one country. The irony here is that I’ve never thought of myself as the moving type. For what it’s worth, I can say with certainty, that boxes provided by moving companies are far superior to those swiped from behind shopping centers under cloaks of darkness.
The nature of my husband’s career brings impermanence and lots of moves. Most recently I have landed in Jacksonville, FL. And not-so-secretly, I love it! We’ve been here since December and are assured that until August Jax (as we locals call it) is home. I’m too new to know much, but I now invite you to join me, as we dive deeper into my ‘hood, beyond greater Jacksonville and zoom into historic Riverside Avondale. This is where we live and I love it.
We walk to great local restaurants and shops from the house and Boone Park doubles as our backyard (think tall pines trees mixed with live oaks and Spanish moss). There are killer antique and rummage shops, local craft breweries, and this amazing coffee shop called Bold Bean. I.mean.wow. Lining the shore of the St. Johns River, our neighborhood includes countless parks with lots of character, old people, young people, weird people, lots of dog walkers, and cool old homes. These are all reasons to love it here, but I have found that the real gems of Jacksonville are its residents.
On weekends when we’re out, Jon and I find ourselves hustling home to hang out with our neighbors. Christopher and Julie’s porch across the street is a weekend hot spot. Jeff, Christina and their two kids mosey over for conversation and laughs. Sometimes Kevin is there, or Roy might pop across the street to hang out. Those who are old enough and so-inclined partake in scotch and cigars. Others of us wear yoga pants and prefer a glass of wine.
Lyle and Jessica live at the other end of the block. We love them! They just had a baby and man we had a great time meeting their families, in from out of town for his birth. We bought Girl Scout cookies from Rob-the-Fire-Fighter’s girls down the street, and I run some Friday mornings with Kerri, who lives next door to Rob-the-fire-fighter. Amy and Al are perpetually renovating their house and the whole block celebrated with her 3 weeks back when she purchased a van for her young business, The Veggie Bin. Jon’s favorite neighbor is easily 2nd-grader Lyman, across the street. They have walkie-talkies and Jon sends Lyman on “missions” to complete in Boone Park. The two have also begun searching out geocahces together with the geocache app on Jon’s i-phone. Lyman has taken to entering our house with one-knock to announce his arrival as he opens the door himself. Hope that doesn’t prove to be a bad thing… My neighbors make me want to stay here forever. Truly. We’ve even joked about offering to buy the house we rent from our landlord when it comes time to buy, IF we get stationed for the next 3 years in Jax. IF.
Barring the fact that I miss my family back in VA like woah, those things that make me weary here are cannot be pinned on the location. Come on, 75 degrees and sunny just about every day, are you kidding me? It’s those things that accompany the nature of impermanence, a lifestyle of uncertain locations and timelines — all wearisome things associated with being a navy wife, right? Come August it’ll be more moving boxes or a new experience: knowing where I’ll live for the next three years! Fingers crossed for Jax…
(Jon retrieving Lyman’s (a 2nd grader and our favorite neighbor) glider from neighbor’s roof.)
And February is behind us! I’ve loved this series, perhaps a little too much. A couple of you I had contacted and we didn’t make it happen in time. I’d like to continue running one or two a month so this space doesn’t get too overrun with pineapples and tri-cornered hats. If you want to submit a post on your place, email me – I’d love it!