I thought I knew what I wanted. Only that’s been changing every week; recently every day. What do you do when you find a community that seems unreal – in the realest of ways. A community where at least 95.5% of the residents are truly kind. (You find a jerk every now and then, but it’s RARE). Residents here are kind in the stores and kind on the roads. And although your daughter’s elementary school has over 1,000 children, the front-desk receptionist greets you, “Good morning Mrs. Haverlock!” even though I’ve only met her a handful of times. (I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t even know her name). And your 12-year-old’s orchestra teacher meets you at school 30 minutes early because you can’t figure out how to work your dang metronome and you really feel like your son needs a little extra help on some of his songs.
Northwest Arkansas is a community where I’ve only seen one man in the year we’ve been here, holding a sign asking for money. Because the economy is booming (real estate, jobs, tourism and more) and most everyone is gainfully employed and buying homes. I’ve been honked at three times in 12 months, and the truth is, I really deserved it every time. You can feel safe when your kids ride their bikes through the neighborhoods and get this….you actually talk to your neighbors here. You know their names, you know their stories and you become friends. Crazy stuff for a Las Vegas native.
But you miss your family. Because every single one of them live in Nevada or California and trips 1,300 miles home aren’t convenient or cheap. And you miss family birthday parties and family reunions and baby blessings and high school graduations and all sorts of other stuff that just turns your insides.
And your sweet boy with autism brings you his iPad every single day and asks for Disneyland at least 5 times each day. And when you explain that Disneyland is very far away, he scrolls through his iPad pictures and finds one of himself in Grandpa’s airplane and in the sweetest voice ever, requests, “airplane.” You go through the same song and dance because Grandpa’s plane is at Grandpa’s ranch in Nevada and then he pulls up a picture of himself playing in the Pacific Ocean, and says, (looking at you with the biggest and sweetest brown eyes on Earth) “Ocean.” And then you look outside your Arkansas windows and see that the temperature gauge reads 32 Fahrenheit and it’s raining anyway and your sweet boy doesn’t at all understand why you can’t just hop in the car and find something fun and exciting to do. Pretty difficult in the winter in Arkansas for a kiddo with autism who loves the outdoors.
Then out of left field, your ultra-talented hubby (he is so studly in my opinion) is head-hunted from a stellar Southern California company and after several interviews and a trip back west is offered a really amazing job close to all of the people you love. The only problem is you’ve grown to love the newbies in Arkansas too. Really, really love them. And your kids have made friends and they cry at the prospect of leaving Arkansas and their new friends here. Really, children? Have your forgotten your cousins and grandparents so quickly? But I get it. I know where they’re coming from, because Northwest Arkansas is a special place and unless you’ve lived it, you won’t understand it. It wraps it’s green little, farm-speckled self around your heart and flows with your blood through your veins. I can think of no better place on earth to raise children. It’s wholesome, it’s beautiful, it’s peaceful and everyone here appreciates and focuses on family.
Both companies understood that Scott was struggling with the decision and both kept throwing things our way to sweeten the deal. (Told ya he’s studly) The problem is….it’s not the money. With Adam’s autism, it’s never been about the money. We just know and accept that the majority of it goes to his treatment. We’re used to that. It’s about what’s best for our kids – all 4 of them. And Arkansas (aside from the best speech therapist on Earth) doesn’t have a lot for Adam’s very unique needs. But it’s been great for the other three in so many ways. This has been the most complicated, heart-wrenching decision for us, which I’m sure seems ridiculous because people move all of the time and everything’s okay.
When I called Zac’s would-be junior high in S. Cal yesterday and learned that they don’t provide orchestra or track, I was so sad. He was really looking forward to both next year. I also learned they earned a very prestigious award and ranked #1 in something-or-other for the entire state of California.
So Scott and I spent several hours agonizing last night. Poor guy was fielding calls from both sides who were trying to convince him to stay here or come to S. Cal. That’s a hard thing when both companies are so decent and so kind. So last night we both agreed we want to live in S. Cal. This morning I woke up panicked and begged Scott not to resign. I just knew we needed to stay here. But someone had to keep their head on straight. Someone had to stop with the vacillating. And someone had to infuse some reason into this chaos. So, he took my cheeks and kissed me on the lips. When he pulled back he looked at me with the same beautiful eyes he shares with Adam and said, “We’re going to California, sweetie. I’m headed to the office to make it official right now.”
So, we are going to California and there’s no turning back. And I am both grieving and celebrating. But I know it will be okay.