The thousand mile journey that brought us from Texas to Charleston separated us from all of our family and friends. My children went through a long process of missing their cousins and friends, along with everyone they had ever known. You know the story. The Lowcountry’s population is still growing by an insane amount and if you are reading this then you are probably not a native.
We moved into a beautiful house in a great neighborhood and I noticed families around, but I was really unsure of myself. Should I bring my neighbors a pie? Should I write notes and put them in their mailbox? No one was really out in the yard unless they were doing something and I didn’t want to bother them. How was I supposed to introduce myself? I’m so awkward and I don’t want that to reflect poorly on my kid. Should I walk up and down the street with a sign saying “Would you like to have a playdate?” Eventually, my kids started talking about friends at school and I finally felt like this was going to be ok.
As the weeks turned into months, the new friendships that my kids were growing seemed to flourish. The birthday parties that first year were full of children that were all mostly from somewhere else, but together in this amazing melting pot they all became friends.
Since many people here don’t have extended family, the parties seem to be the places where grown-ups meet each other too. I had a few friends from the organizations that I volunteered with, but most of them had younger or older kids, and they were in different school zones so I wasn’t sure about setting up play dates. My kids had friends at school, but not the special kind of friend that just make life better.
Early on when we moved here I rode my bike up to school and pulled my kids in a little trailer behind me. After school was out they would play in the field with the other kids. There was a little boy there that my son, Luke, always talked to. They played together waiting for their older sisters and one day I started talking to his mom. She was amazing. One of my favorite thing about living here is that everyone is from somewhere else. She was from the mountains and I was from Texas. We talked about school work, snotty noses and dreams of where we will be in the future. And it just clicked. Our families started spending more time together and the kids just meshed. Every time we see each other there are hugs all around and when I see the Holton Family, it is kind of like the feeling of coming home.
One day around that time, my family was planting flowers in the front yard and a little girl was riding her bike. Her mom was walking behind her and shouting for her to slow down. I jumped up and ran over and nicely let the girl know that her momma said to slow down. Once the mom reached us, Luke unceremoniously yelled across the road, “Hey do y’all want to plant flowers with us?” and they walked right over. We met our neighbors that day and the kids played for hours while the mom (Ericka), my husband, and myself planted the rest of the flowers. You could almost call it a magical day. Soon we were hanging out with the Browns and it felt like family all over again.
About a year ago Luke and Lily exclaimed that we were now cousins with the Brown Family and there is actually a running joke that we have hyphenated our names. They introduce their friend as our cousin to new people and I let them. I understand that need for someone to be extra special and a little bit “more” than a simple friend title. Yesterday, when I picked up Luke from school we had the chance to talk to the Holtons. The kids decided that we love each other so very much that we should be cousins.
It took a while, it really did, for these connections to be made and this family to grow. We have so many more other friends that are growing into our family. A very wise woman told me to grow where you are planted. And now our roots are growing and weaving into a beautiful tapestry along with other families that my kids would have never seen in our hometown in Texas. I miss my real family, I truly do. But even though we are so far away, Charleston, all of the sudden, feels a little more like home.