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To read Part 11, click here.
It was December 1992 and, with a bit of excitement, but also fear and trepidation, we moved south again. Much of what we were moving back to was incredibly familiar. Back to the south. Back to Asheville, Back to the company that Matt had worked with in the 80s. Back, even, to the church where we had met. But we were different people now. Parents with children. And we had been changed by our experience in Philadelphia.
I cried every day that first year.
We moved into a 2 bedroom apartment on the side of Beaucatcher Mountain overlooking downtown. Only we couldn't cough up the extra $50/month to get the view, so our windows looked out into the 3 story hillside. If you smashed your nose up against the glass and looked up, you might be able to see sky.
Matt started working late the second night on the job. Within the first week he had pulled an all-nighter. I was at home all day with 2 small children, one with chronic ear infections. We had one car to share between us which meant loading the kiddos up at the crack of dawn or late at night to take Matt to and from work or spend the day at home without a car. Isolated and claustrophobic against the steep mountainside. I was lonely. Very, very lonely.
Even though we returned to the church where we had met, we never felt like we belonged. At the time it was a typical southern upper-middle class church and known, informally, as the place where the beautiful people went. I recoiled. These people were tidy. Put together. Suburban. Upwardly mobile. I was a mess. Painstakingly honest. Eager to live in a racially mixed neighborhood and live simply and not give a rip about social conventions and niceties. To a certain extent, it was culture shock, as if I had moved to a foreign country. Even though it was the country I had known first.
Yes. I was lonely. I was angry. I was angry at my husband for taking me away from the community that I loved. So many times I wanted to pack up the kids and just go back. With or without him.
Somewhere in the middle of all this we bought a house. It was an old house built in 1925, chock full of old pipes and bad wiring and cigarette smoke and bacon grease and 3 layers of window treatments held to the wall with gutter nails. And full of charm. And we fixed it up. And moved in. And began a new life for good. Matt had told me that we had to conceive a house before we could conceive another child, so I not-so-patiently waited and the first egg that dropped from my over-eager ovaries after we moved in became Baby #3.
December came. We passed the one year mark in Asheville. I was through the nausea-laden first trimester. I was settling in. Then it snowed. It snowed again the day we left to go for Philadelphia for Christmas. I remember regretting leaving the beautiful snow on the mountains. And as we drove into Philadelphia from the south, past the industrial smokestacks and treeless expanse, I didn't get that twinge of longing I expected. I realized that God had orchestrated things just right. To peel my fingers off our old home and make me long for our new one.