The phone rang, and rang, and rang. And then we got voicemail, so we left a message. Later we received a return call, and the realtor promised to forward us listing information on the properties we had found.
The listing information never arrived. We waited, hoping weâ€™d get a packet in the mail, or an email, or a call. I think we even left another voicemail at one point, following up on our request.
We received nothing.
Oh, well, we thought. We werenâ€™t exactly in a hurry, since we had the enormous details of jobs to consider anyway, and knew that might take quite some time to orchestrate. So it was unlikely that weâ€™d be making any offers on properties immediately anyway.
And so, we moved back into our normal life grooves again, and studied Bozeman from afar via the internet on the weekends. We spoke of it often, and dreamed, and debated about how many acres would be our ideal amount of property, since owning a large plot of land was a huge part of the appeal.
In Chicago, we had a quarter of an acre of property, which was none too shabby, even by suburban standards. But I longed for more land. We would drive by homes in a neighborhood not too far from ours where some of the homes were situated on full acre or more lots, and, Iâ€™ll admit, I was covetous. In fact, when we were searching for our home in the Chicago suburbs years earlier, we had seen a property in this neighborhood that was at the top of our price range. It was literally caving in on itself on the inside, and would have to be completely redone if not torn down, but it was on a couple of acres of land that I wanted in the fiercest kind of way. I was quite actually scared to be inside the house itself, but, oh, how I tried to talk myself into it for the sake of the land. The idea of several acres in Bozeman, then, was nothing short of intoxicating.
However, in the midst of the foray into mountain living, when we thought Bozeman might well be our â€œmove for placeâ€ place, we had to face the reality that choosing Bozeman would mean relinquishing any and all dreams of living by the ocean. This thought, over time, began to take hold and was the one negative that we could see about moving to Bozeman. At first, it seemed a manageable disappointment. We had done so well all these year in Chicago, where nary an ocean nor a mountain can be found, so, we reasoned, weâ€™d just focus on enjoying the mountains in our daily life and continue to enjoy the ocean in our vacation life.
But, you know how these things can fester.
And fester it did.
Then, we spent a week in Aruba that next spring. We took long walks on the beach and swam in the ocean at all hours of the day and night. I remember swinging in a hammock on the beach near our hotel late one night, looking up at the stars, thinking that there was only one thing that would make the moment any better, and that would be to extend the moment indefinitely. LCB lay beside me, strangely quiet.
The next weekend, after we were home, the discussion turned to Bozeman again. We had tentative plans for a trip out there that summer, but the air was thick with what had been building for months. Then, LCB said something to the effect of, â€œI love those mountains, and a life in Bozeman would be incredible.â€ He paused, and followed up with this: â€œBut I think I love the ocean more.â€
And so we began to realize that giving up the dream of living by the ocean was just something we werenâ€™t sure we wanted to do. Plus, every time we added general points to consider to the decision matrix, it seemed to favor ocean-oriented places more than anywhere else.
Finally, the day came when we conceded the inevitable. One way or another, we were ocean bound. It was hard to give up the Montana dream.
Still, it was a joyful concession.
Then came the task of finding the beach most suitable to our needs and wants. Our theory that we wanted to be physically on the beach as much as possible in the end meant several things.
For one, it meant that, generally speaking, warmer climates were more ideal than cooler ones, thus weighing in favor of the southern half of the country.
Beyond that, we also were, in point, tactile about our beaches and specifically our water, which ruled out any rocky-shored beaches or any beaches with waters heavily coral-infested. This narrowed our list substantially.
Furthermore, our desire to be physically in the water meant that warmer water temperatures were also more advantageous, thus tipping the scale in the direction of the Southeast Coast, with its favorable currents, over the Northeast Coast or the West Coast.
When we added that to the fact that our money bought a great deal more on many of the Southeastern beaches than it would in many other regions, the deal, as they say, was sealed. Choosing this region of the country ultimately turned out to be the easiest part of the decision-making process, with the matrix now screaming â€œSoutheast Coastâ€ at us.
That summer marked the beginning of a series of trips, spanning the coast from Virginia to Florida. While it would entail endless hours of research and be three more years before we moved to Carolina, the general direction of our trajectory was, at this point, set.