today's suggested blog topic is "new beginnings." i'm not entirely sure where this is going to go. i'm pretty certain, though, that in order to talk about new beginnings, i need to give you a little history first.
the time: twelve years ago
the place: atlanta, ga
i had just returned to the ATL from a week long vacation along the southeastern coast of north carolina. it was actually a week long plus a day and a half, because we were having so much fun, we didn't want to go home. it was july 5, 1999.
i was, at the time, halfway through an eighteen month engagement. most of my time was preoccupied with working, traveling (for work), planning a wedding and trying to decide what the heck to do after the Big Day. living in atlanta had been ten years of fun, but honestly, i was over the rat race. i was over the singles scene. i was over the traffic. i knew that one of our first major "married" decisions would be deciding where to live. even though we were still ten months away from the Big Day, i think we both had atlanta squarely in our rear view mirror by then.
the opportunity presented itself to us to join my family for a week long vacation at the beach. my most recently married sister and her husband had moved to southport shortly after their wedding in october '98. eight months later, they were eager to welcome us to their little corner of heaven. southport is the home of The North Carlina 4th of July Festival, and we had scheduled our visit to coincide with the week long activities.
and active we were! there was swimming and beach combing. we went to concerts laden with Sousa marches. we hit up the carnival for cotton candy and cheap thrills. we ate ice cream under street lights draped with red, white and blue bunting. we rode bikes to the local breakfast joint. by the middle of that week, some of the locals were even calling us by name.
needless to say, we fell in love with this little corner of heaven. we spent the seven hour drive home making the sorts of plans that about-to-be-married couples make: how soon could we move? what would our first house look like? we would spend our days working, but we swore we would always find time to laze about in the rolling ocean waters. sure, some of our plans were fanciful (we will open a bed & breakfast with a small restaurant on the grounds!), but the plans were falling into place: within the span of one year, we would be married, and residents of southport.
it's important to keep in mind that, at this point, it was 1999. we did not have cell phones. we did not have email. we couldn't google. when we left our apartment to drive to north carolina, we essentially put our lives on hold for the week. no one could track us down. no one needed to track us down. we were, quite literally, unplugged. needless to say, one of the very first things i did after returning from our star spangled vacation, was to check my voicemail. (i almost said "answering machine." i'm pretty sure that by then, we had at least upgraded to automatic voicemail on our home phone line.)
there was a message from a mentor of mine, a man who had taught me the restaurant business with such care and with such passion that i knew i was meant to spend my career in the service/hospitality industry. his path had taken him to a corporate gig, where he was a recruiter for a large restaurant chain. there was a training position available, and he thought of me. he encouraged me to apply, set up a phone interview for me and did a really good job of promoting the company.and he very cautiously told me that the job would require relocation.
to apple valley.
and, you guys? that wasn't the deal breaker you might think it would have been. the thought of living in the frozen tundra did not scare me as much as i expected! i was more hesitant about moving so far away from my family. fourteen HUNDRED miles away from my family, to be exact.
but there was southport. there was this little corner of heaven that had welcomed us with apple pie and homemade ice cream, with flags waving, with parades and band concerts. there was the seven hour drive home in which we had penciled out the first years of our marriage as they would play out along the Cape Fear River.
there was the fact that i didn't get the voicemail about minnesota until after i had spent a week swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.
i filled out the application. i snuck home on a lunch break to sit cross-legged on my bed for the phone interview. i used the internet at work to learn what i could about this restaurant chain and it's headquarters in apple valley.
but my heart was already in north carolina...