You look at house values. You look at crime rates. You check how far it is to the grocery store, the library, the church, his work. You look at schools, whether or not you intend to send your children there because so will anybody who eventually buys the house from you. You spend hours finding activities the kids could do if you moved there. You check the weather, averages and records, the frost dates, the hardiness zone. You check whether there's decent internet available. You check, and check, and check, and check.
And then, with a prayer, you sign the papers and make a leap.
Because there's so much you can't know. You can't really go meet the neighbors and say, "We're thinking of moving here and we want to know if you're nice or nasty." Long pause. "So? Nice? Nasty? Say." You can't go live in that precise community for a while and see. You could rent, I suppose, which we did, but we ended up finding the perfect home 45 minutes away from our rental home. 45 minutes puts you in a different community entirely. So even doing that is tricky.
But the beautiful thing about there being a gap between what you know and what you'll eventually find out is that there's room for delightful surprises.
There was a list of things I hoped for, clutched in the sweaty palm of my heart. I wanted rain. (check: it's raining buckets right now.) I wanted proximity to work and church. (25 minutes to the former, 5 to the latter.) I wanted land. (11 acres should do it.) And, oh please, I wanted people.
This last want is so hard to measure. Rainfall charts, maps, specs on a property, can all be had easily. But how can you know whether the people you need are in any specific place? And as much as I just want to be a person whom other people need, as much as that would assuage my ego, I know that I need other people just as badly as they could possibly need me.
And, to add impossible specifics to my list of demands, I didn't need just any people. Of course any people are wonderful, and all can enrich your life. But your people, people who get your particular madness, those people are comfortable to your soul. I wanted women people. Mom people. And...maybe, if I could have them...homeschool people. This is a very specific type of people, I knew, and hoped but tried not to hope too hard.
I looked up this morning, in the middle of a hysterical shared laugh with a circle of homeschool mom people in my living room and thought, this. I didn't know how to predict this. If I had known a place where this could happen existed I would have moved there regardless of the rain or the acreage. This, in other words, was not my doing. It was a straight-up blessing, a gift I hoped for, prayed like crazy for, and am blown-away astonished that I've received. It's early days yet, they've only been coming once a week for three weeks, but I can feel them beginning to fill an empty place that I've had for a long time, a place that isn't always filled. This can be so lonely. I pay attention, and am intensely grateful, when it's not.
Oh, also, the kids are having a pretty good time.
We have no special agenda for the kids, on our Tuesdays when friends come. They play in the creek, they fish in the pond, they fly kites, feed the neighbors' horses, play board games, create complicated character games around a table full of playdough, and cover every hard surface with sidewalk chalk. They make friends. They wander around in tribes or pairs. They come to us for lunch and bandaids, or justice for some wrong done. And for the change of clothes the moms have learned to bring if they don't want to cart dirty wet kids home in their cars.
None of this is to say that I have forgotten, or will ever forget, those of you who have filled this place for me in days past, who continue, though from afar, to fill it in your own way. But not to notice when a desperate desire is fulfilled is ingratitude, and I'm loath to be guilty of that.
Because man, I really needed that laugh.