It's kinda different.
Not that it has changed much, but the contrast between life at our long-time home in Galva and our part-time place on the North Carolina shore became obvious to me almost as soon as we hit town early last Wednesday evening, when a immediate change in activity level hit me right between the eyes. Our Carolina existence is pretty laid back, with most of the going and doing directed towards grandkid stuff, like story hour at the library and tee-ball games at the big park in nearby Jacksonville. Otherwise, it's pretty much the bucolic beach bum lifestyle for me, and her, even, which has been a bit of a surprise to me. As you might guess, I've always been pretty good at doing nothing, but she usually tends to get a little restless if she's not constantly doing something, learning something, cleaning something or otherwise on the fly. So it's been nice to see her dozing on the beach chair next to me once in awhile.
But then it all changed.
I was taking my own sweet time unpacking the car that night when I noticed a not-unfamiliar look in her eye as she tried to hurry me along.
Me (kidding, I thought): Do you have somewhere you need to be?
She (not kidding at all): Actually, I've got a meeting in fifteen minutes.
Me: Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas, er, North Carolina anymore.
The sudden shift in direction and pace got me thinking of all the ways our lives differ from one place to another.
Like the homes we live in.
Our house in Galva is old (built in the 1860s), big (try painting it someday) and filled to the brim with the kind of furniture, memories and general bric-a-brac that can easily collect when you're the fourth generation of family of packrats who have lived in the same town for over 100 years. It's a lot of fun, and we love living here, but it's a big difference from our beach place, which was built after the last time a hurricane swept the island in 1998. It's barely furnished (thrift shop chic) and is almost totally devoid of clutter (for now, at least.)
The views outside are a little different, too.
Our North Carolina windows look out over the Atlantic Ocean and the intercoastal waterway, which is pretty heady stuff for a midwestern muddy-lake guy like me. The Galva house, on the other hand, has a pretty nice vista of its own, with busy, beautiful Wiley Park and a backyard filled with the wildflowers and perennials we've gathered and nurtured over the years. And while a dry, dry Carolina spring and early summer has resulted in a rash of wildfires that have produced some smokey, somewhat scary conditions at times, the rainy season in Illinois has, once again, made me wish my grass crop was a cash crop as well.
And then there are the oh-so-beloved pets that love and harass me wherever I go.
Nashville, the precocious pit bull, who is my Carolina grand-dog, loves to lie in my lap (all 75 pounds of him) and peacefully gnaw on my arm in the not-always-as-gentle-as-I'd-like manner of his big-mouthed breed. Meanwhile, the irascible cat Max greeted my return to Illinois with his standard sharp-toothed nip on the back of my leg, letting me know he expects quick service and an ample helping of Little Friskies Smelly Fish Fillets whenever he's in the mood and I'm in reach.
We don't have a television in North Carolina, thinking it's a shame to dilute the ocean views and the sounds of the water and wildlife with reality shows and the Chicago Cubs, so, I thought I'd enjoy some time with the tube once we got back to Galva. But I quickly discovered that I haven't missed much...and the Cubs are mostly losing.
Yes, things are different. But I know I'll adjust as soon as I get used to mowing the lawn, wearing something besides a swim suit and having my own car again (the Trooper started on the first try.)
And while the differences between places might seem big at times, the love and laughter we share with family and friends wherever we go always stays the same
And the rest...is just details.