I mentioned on Facebook, briefly, a few things that I could come up with off the top of my head that I am loving about this new place that we are living. It's beautiful, and peaceful, and amazing in so many ways, and we are starting to piece together the reasons that we were led here.
One of my favorite things that I have noticed kind of depends on where you are within the city. The tourist-y places (near the beaches, namely) are kind of the exception to this rule, but we have noticed that this city is built on small businesses. Mom and pop shops and restaurants, boutiques, etc. Unlike Columbus, you can drive for many miles in many places here without seeing a chain restaurant. Of course, there are strip malls and familiar things everywhere, but the bulk are homegrown. And I love that. It's different, of course, than what we are used to. But I love it, and it puts our vision for the future in a place of peace.
It's green here. There are trees everywhere. It's like a photograph, just driving down the street. If there aren't trees, there is water. Marshes, rivers, ocean... whatever you like best, it's here. In Ohio, it was fields and strip malls. And then some more fields, and then a Walmart and some more fields (I say that with love, I promise). But here, it's really green. I find myself wondering what colors fall will bring and what that will look like here. I can't wait to find out.
We have been to one beach so far, twice - we attempted another one, but got rained out unexpectedly. We like the one lot, even though it's extremely crowded compared to Myrtle Beach. However, my comparison is probably way off considering this is July/August, and our trips to Myrtle Beach have always been directly before or after "peak" season, when the beaches were pretty bare. But honestly, the crowds are nothing that we would complain about, especially considering the beach is 25 minutes away from our doorstep. Additionally, this beach is different from Myrtle Beach in that it is not lined with gigantic hotels. It is lined with beautiful beach houses, sure, but not towering, ugly resorts (and I also say that knowing that I very much enjoy staying in towering, ugly resorts, that are beautiful in their own way.. haha). Win for Charleston beaches, but I don't think that really surprises anyone.
The weather is.. well, just different. When we left Columbus, we left amidst weeks of 100+ degree temperatures, and I smugly told everyone "hey, the weather in Charleston is only 85." Yeah, it is. But not really. The humidity here makes it feel like 100+ degrees even when it's 85. Or even 80. You pretty much walk out of the house and sweat, and that's just the way it is. But I've already found that all four of us are either noticing it less, or complaining less. It has rained nearly every day since we got here - but only briefly. Evening thunderstorms, just in time for dinner and/or relaxing with the family. At times the sky gets ugly, but then 15 minutes later there are no clouds to be seen, and there hasn't been a drop of rain. Weather changes rapidly here, for sure.
I love our apartment. I don't know if I really have told anyone that yet. Tonight I was able to finish my reading for school outside on our porch, which was super-nice because it is screened in and on the corner of our building, so, right, no bugs, plus shade and an awesome breeze. I would have done that in Columbus more because we had a beautiful view of the nature preserve, but we were always plagued with mosquitoes and ticks at our apartment - no thank you. It is all on one floor, which we were worried about since we were in a townhome before, but.... the layout here makes it work. We have a huge living room (much bigger than before), with a fireplace and an open kitchen/dining area, so... it just feels big, even though it's smaller than what we had. Honestly, when we walked in, before our stuff was even inside, I fell in love with this place. And now that everything is unpacked and our pictures are up, it feels like it's ours.
What else? Today, Little Jae and I explored the farmer's market downtown. Besides finding a place to park (yeah, there's one for the CONS column - that and there is no free parking pretty much anywhere downtown), it was pretty fantastic. And huge. With so many different things to look at and explore. And that will likely become a weekly adventure (and yes, we managed to leave without purchasing anything this time - but probably only because Little Jae's sandal broke before we got a chance!).
On a somewhat similar note, we all went to a flea market last week, in which we bought nearly a week's worth of produce for $10. Yes. Truth.
There are cons. Besides the parking. There are a few things that catch my breath sometimes, I admit it.
We visited a church last week that, although it was great in so many ways, made me really miss our church family and what we left back home. I cried during the message, simply because it wasn't what I wanted it to be. It was, of course, right on time - a message about ending seasons in life and starting new adventures. The message was completely for us to hear. But it was superficial, and not nearly as thought-provoking or educational as we are used to. The congregation was extremely big, so big that it seemed as though no one (or at least, very few people) even realized that we were new. I immediately remembered walking into our old congregation for the first time, being swarmed with love, hugs, introductions and encouragement from so many people, and feeling immediately accepted and loved....
Tomorrow we will visit another church... and so begins our journey.
There are alligators here. And snakes. And "palmetto bugs" which are, essentially, roaches. And all of these things are pretty much everywhere - apartment complexes boast of their "pest control" methods and extermination schedules, although I must say that we have only seen one or two of the bugs near our place. Haven't seen any alligators or snakes yet, but they are very (very) nearby if I am being honest with myself, considering the marsh that is practically in our backyard. I get a little antsy and anxious each time the kids go to play outside, I'll be honest. But I'm sure that's something that I will get used to. At some point. Maybe.
I miss our friends. Yes, all of you guys. It's really strange not knowing anyone, and B and I both are really not good at throwing ourselves into conversations with strangers. At all, unless we are forced to by employment or some mutual friendship. I find myself wanting to just drive to my old office and say hi during the day like I used to, or call someone to meet up for coffee or lunch, or take an impromptu weekend trip to Findlay..
I know it will come, with time and opportunity. So we pray for those things.
And that is pretty much the first few weeks here. There are pros and cons, and we're adjusting to the different culture and scenery here... I mean, honestly, if we could just send all of the gators, snakes, and roaches back to Columbus and send all of our Ohio friends and family down here instead, this place would be perfect. So let's work on that, shall we?
Hoping you all are well.