In a quiet Pennsylvania community I was walking with my friend who like myself was no stranger to relocation – both of us having made our home in a few foreign countries and several US states. When discussing the challenges of small town PA, I asked her what her favorite place to live was in her travels. With her lovely Spanish inflection she said “Arkansas”. I assumed I misunderstood what she said, and asked her to repeat that.
“Oh, cool”. Was my weak answer. This mystified me. I was expecting to hear something more exotic like coastal Spain or Mexico, NJ, or NYC, or well …. just not that.
Her words stuck in my head because it seemed so peculiar coming from her. Sounds cliché’ even saying this is a cliché’, but I didn’t know exactly which states bordered AR or what on earth could make it so special. (NOW I get it.) I also knew this was something to take seriously because she is someone I admire for strength in her opinion – she knows what she likes, and is very bold and outspoken in her views. And she requires more retail venues than I do. She loves to shop and has elaborate tastes in many areas in which I lack. The amount of time she spent going to King of Prussia mega mall was equal to the time I spent at TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Which was a lot. So how on earth could NWA suit her needs so nicely?
“Why?” I prodded out of curiosity as I unite with my well coifed neighbor. I didn’t realize it at the time but she proceeded to describe my current neighborhood and lifestyle. It seemed so far removed from our current reality.
Within the following year the offer to “come check it out” presented itself. As many of us know, those are the words that begin the journey (give or take a few expletives). According to similar stories, not even taking it seriously because one may have never given any thought to this area being a potential site to set up your new home, life, friends, schools, activities, hobbies… yada yada yada.
Contrary to popular beliefs and personal narratives from our new friends and neighbors – we did not come here kicking and screaming. In fact, this was probably the most comfortable, stress-free move we have had. For sure the easiest since having kids. Our familial portfolio consists of two kids (10 and 12), three foreign countries, six US cities, all in 16 years.
We had a feeling it would be a positive relocation – and we were right. That is one of the few blessings of having moved too many times. When you compare some moves to others, especially moves that did not go as smoothly, relocation has its advantages. We learned to appreciate not only things that go as planned, but also the ability to avoid potential hazards that cause stress when moving. This one was a breeze compared to a few others. Mostly because y’all are SO DARN NICE. Coming from a Midwesterner, that is a HUGE compliment. I tell my kin that living here is like having down-to-earth Midwestern values combined with Southern hospitality. Sign me up please.
This month marks the 1 year anniversary of the AR chapter of our lives, which we plan to assemble into an entire book. A very lengthy book encompassing numerous and varied chapters.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned.