It is Sunday morning, time for my Sunday morning ritual, the walk to Starbucks which is exactly 4 minutes from my house. Walking to get coffee is one of my greatest pleasures. I typically run into my neighbors and chat and say hello. My neighborhood is an eclectic mix of 1930’s craftsman cottages and new builds which seem to fit in just fine. My neighbors are the same eclectic mix of families, singles, singles with kids, and many empty nesters. I’ve haven’t found a place like Mayberry (as I affectionately refer to it) yet.
I’m a small town girl, that’s exactly why I moved back to my hometown in July, it was one of the best decisions that I’ve made in the past ten years. I love my 1936 cottage home, with all it’s charm, my daughter is awash in friends, my neighbors actually know my name, and wave and want to talk. That’s what happens on my Sunday morning stroll to Starbucks, I always run into a neighbor. Today I met Bill.
Bill was the kind of older gentleman that paired expensive 80’s London Fog raincoat’s with sweat pants. He had an equally aged dog sporting an equally beautiful tan coat. They matched.
I waved and said hello even though, I’d never met the man, but that’s what you do in Mayberry. You wave hello to everyone.
“Why hello there! How’s your day?” He asked in such a way that I could tell he actually wanted to know, how my day was going.”
“I’m fine thanks! My day is great now that I have my coffee. Glad it’s warmer today, a bit gray though.”
“Yes, that it is. I’m Bill, I live down the street there.” He pointed to the corner house behind the bank.
“I’m Cindy. I live on Wallace, the little white house with the red door. My daughter and I live there, I just moved there in July. I grew up here though.”
“We just moved back here in November. Lived here 40 years before that.”
“Where did you move from?”
“Carmel by the Sea??’
“Yes, the very one.” I was shocked. Carmel by the Sea was one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I visited 10 years ago for my brother’s wedding. It’s a gorgeous fairytale like community with ocean views that seem more painting then real life. High rent district to be sure, very pricey, but stunning.
“You moved back here…from Carmel??” I couldn’t fathom it.
“Well…every place has it’s pluses and minus’s. Even Carmel. It’s beautiful, they let the dogs run on the beach, that was nice. But we didn’t have any neighbors. Just people who bought homes as vacation homes, and came only ever so often. They didn’t stay long. We never really got to know anyone, people just owned homes, but rarely came. Anyway, we have three children that live right in this block, and 8 grandchildren they are raising, and one on the way.” His grandpa pride kicked in.
“So you moved back here.”
“Oh yes, it’s much nicer. Our family is here, and we have lots of neighbors to talk to, like you.” He said with a big grin.
The older I get the more I appreciate small things. Small homes, small communities, good friends, and people to share with. There was a time I craved the big home and everything that went with it. But I know now that would have made me unhappy. My paradise is a small home, with quirky corners, on a street of stories.
Paradise isn’t a beautiful landscape and expensive homes…it’s your family and a neighborhood, it’s people to talk to and look after you and you look after them, it’s being able to walk to get your coffee on a Sunday morning, and say hello to someone you don’t know and be acknowledged for simply being. Paradise isn’t Carmel by the Sea, it’s a small town in Southern, Ohio… it seems.