Actually, the Man got an unexpected phone call. The Maiden and I had taken a bus to a giant outlet mall an hour away and we were shopping until we (or rather, I–bringing all the stuff home on public transit while towing a 20-month-old was always an adventure) dropped. It was 7:30 at night before we finally rolled in the door, to be greeted by this question:
“How would you like to move to Louisiana?”
Backtrack a minute. At the time, we were living in a temporary apartment in Arlington, VA, where the Man was working for a four-month stint. Our house and stuff–and cars–were back home in Alaska, where we’d been stationed for two years. We’d be returning there in June and for all we knew we would be staying another year until our term was up in 2009.
And yet here someone was asking us if we wanted to trade snow for sun and move to Shreveport, in the northwestern corner of Louisiana.
The only thing I knew about Shreveport was that the meteorological station–at the airport, I guess–was labeled “SHV.” It had been part of a case study on the final exam for a meteorology class I took in college, though I don’t remember much else from the class. Still, even basic weather knowledge suggested that Shreveport was one heck of a lot warmer than Alaska.
It wasn’t a hard decision.
We were excited, because we hate being cold. Not everyone was enthusiastic, though. “Shrevepit,” someone said, and a few people called it “dumpy” and sympathized with our plight.
So although I blithely started buying sundresses for the Maiden, we had the teeniest bit of pause whenever we talked about the move. We’d like it . . . wouldn’t we? It would be a good experience . . . surely? We could be happy there . . . right?
And yet it’s become home like no other place we’ve lived.
Was it that “Southern hospitality”? Good weather? Friendly residents? Local color? Welcoming moms’ group? Familiar faces? Great kids’ activities? People, both long-time Louisianans and transients like us, embracing us as one of their own?
Four years. Four happy years.
I’m so incredibly glad that, four years ago, we took a chance and said “Yes.” Glad that we came here with hopes and a smile.
Does this place have its faults? Of course it does. Are there attitudes, practices, policies that bother me? Sure. No city’s perfect. But I’m not going to get into any of that, because in the end, it really doesn’t matter:
This place was home. And in a way, even when we’ve long since moved, it always will be.
This morning, which is exactly four years after we left our home in Alaska, we’re packing up the car and setting off for the state line. But before we cross it, we’ll stop along the side of the road. We’ll release balloons, and as they float away on the breeze, we’ll head north for good.
And someday we’ll feel just as settled into a new home, a new community–but we’ll never forget our time down here.
Thank you, Louisiana.
It’s been great, y’all.