The territory we were now looking at extended really from Virginia Beach to the north to the Florida Keys to the south. While this was a miniscule area compared to the world we had started with, it was still a relatively large territory to cover in terms of visiting and researching. And now, while much was still uncertain at this point, the tone was starting to become more serious.
This was juxtaposed against three important factors. First, I was now at the height of my career satisfaction. I had recently secured a new job at another high school in the western suburbs, at a great school not far from our house, working for a phenomenal English department chairperson, in a position where I spent half my day teaching English and half my day as a reading specialist. I had just finished an M.S.Ed. in Reading at the time, and had been offered a full-time reading specialist position at another school, but I still wanted to keep my hands in the English side of teaching, so I was thrilled to be doing what I felt was the best of both worlds. In that part of my life, I would have been satisfied with remaining stationary indefinitely.
At the other end of the spectrum, LCB was getting antsy. You could just tell, he had this itch, this look in his eyes, this mild restlessness. He had been working for the same company for many years, holding several positions and traveling the world, often coming back with stories and tidbits to add to our matrix. But I could sense that he was ripe for change. At the time, we didnâ€™t really know how much of his life this was going to consume, but we knew he was ready, and really needed to do something career-wise on his own, even if only on a limited basis.
So there we were in our careers, one of us very content and the other reaching for something new.
Finally, to fuel the fire of impending change that was beginning to smolder, both of us were starting to think about having children in the near future, and we wondered how that would all fit into a life lived by the ocean someday.
Fairly soon after we narrowed our search to the southeastern coast, we decided that we would probably rule out most of Florida. While we loved several of the beaches there, LCB just gets a little, well, weâ€™ll call it â€œout of sortsâ€ when the temperature and humidity hit a certain level. So, we narrowed our list of beaches again, and deliberated on where to look first.
That Memorial Day weekend, after the trip to Aruba earlier that spring, we booked a flight into Raleigh, headed east from there via a rental car, and drove the better part of the North and South Carolina coast. It was a whirlwind trip, consisting of little sleep and obnoxious amounts of driving, but we loved everything we saw.
We drove and drove, getting a feel for the land and the islands that spotted the coast. We stopped at grocery stores and picked up any local publications we could find. We made note of each islandâ€™s access to the mainland, usually via bridge, and considered the time, the distance and the need or lack thereof for accessing the mainland. Midway through the trip, we slowed down for an evening, ate dinner at a fine dining restaurant on a pier, took a post-dinner walk on the beach at midnight and pieced together a mental picture of a newly-formed life there. We navigated through rush hour traffic in Myrtle Beach on Highway 17, which put a new twist on the Chicago traffic we were accustomed to, with the backdrop of tall office buildings replaced by brightly-lit beach shops. We stopped and walked the beaches in several spots, and took turns running from the car to the beach at several other beaches to check out things like the water, the sand, the crowds, and the residences.
We were smitten.
By fall, we were starting to feel comfortable with the idea of narrowing it down to Carolina.
But, oddly enough after the Montana conclusions, we found ourselves distracted by one little city in particular, and started detouring just a wee bit from the coast.