It's just not called that. And rather than a small town, it's a small neighborhood of townhomes where the spirit of Mayberry abides. I've lived there for 6 months now, too busy enjoying my new life to even write about it.
Arriving at my destination, however, was a long, hard road that ended in my second divorce. Over a period of years, I prayed persistently for two things—peace and a home. I longed for a place that truly felt like my home instead of just somewhere I kept my things. A place where the door is always open to family and friends. Where peace and quiet reign.
In God's meticulous timing, He graciously granted my prayer and, in His usual fashion, did immeasurably more than I asked or imagined (see Ephesians 3:20).
Getting thereI decided to buy a townhome so I wouldn't have all the outside maintenance. But I became discouraged after looking at several places. Although the neighborhoods were nice, and the prices were high, the homes were claustrophobic. Low ceilings. Small rooms. Dark cabinets. Scarce natural light.
Other things I didn't like were that most had an upstairs master and a single-car garage. Some had a side entrance with a servants' quarters feel. All of them needed repairs. And all had a thumbnail of a patio. Just a cement slab with barely enough room for a couple of chairs, next to a tiny patch of grass.
Surprisingly, most of those places were getting snatched up fast. So I actually made an offer on the best of the worst, but I lowballed the amount because I just wasn't feeling it. What I felt was relief when I didn't get the house. And then ...
My lovely, determined realtor, Kim, sent me more listings online. And when I saw the pictures of my future abode, I knew it was the one.
We went to see it the next day. From the driveway to the back gate, I liked everything about it—starting with the Magnolia tree in front, the northward facing of the house so the sun goes over it instead of through it, and the tiled sidewalk by the door. What else?
High ceilings. Lots of big windows and natural light. Plantation shutters. White cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms. Downstairs master. Two bedrooms and a loft upstairs. Two and a half baths. Over 1700 sq ft. Two-car garage. Move-in ready. And, maybe best of all ...
A flagstone patio with a gazebo and a wood-burning fireplace.
|Here's the current view to the left, and below, the current view to the right.|
|Two flower beds and potted plants amply satisfy my gardening bug.|
When Kim and I were checking out the patio, a friendly voice called to us through the fence from the big, corner-lot townhome next door. Ron introduced himself, then talked about how he and his wife (both retired) were the first homeowners in the neighborhood and how much they love living there. He assured me that I'd love it too.
We opened the gate to see a nice bit of green space with a sidewalk leading to a black iron fence. Noticing an entrance to what might be a park, Kim and I strolled the short distance to have a look.
The gate was locked, so we peered through the fence at beautiful foliage, an enchanting little bridge, a guy casting his fishing line over the water, and other delightful sights. We heard the soothing sounds of water fountains and birds singing. It must have been the Zen-like vibe that caused us to speak in a hushed tone.
When I jokingly asked why we were whispering, Kim pointed to these words etched in stone in front of a park bench ...
|As a former hippie chick of days long past, I considered this Beatles lyric a|
special confirmation that this charming neighborhood is where I'm meant to be.
I didn't need any more convincing, but I got it anyway. We walked back to the front of the house and met the other next-door neighbors, an adorable young couple who greeted us warmly. Kim told them I was considering buying the house. That was all Kevin needed to shake my hand and give me a hearty, "Welcome to the neighborhood!"
He and his wife, Kiara, told us how much they enjoy living there. Kevin talked about what a good neighbor Ron is and how they all look out for each other. He also said that I could expect an invitation from Ron for a beer on his "tricked-out" patio. Then when Kiara asked if I like wine because some women in the neighborhood have a wine club, I just looked at Kim and said, "Are you kidding me right now."
Oh, and the house is just 10 minutes from work.
Naturally, I told Kim to submit my offer. No lowballing this time. She submitted it that evening, the sellers accepted the next morning, and by noon I had a contract.
Now here's the really amazing God part of the story. Those inferior townhomes were selling fast, typically within 2 weeks. But guess how long this perfect-for-me house had been on the market ...
An astounding 5 months! God saved it just for me.
While my contract was pending, the house continued to be shown and people started making offers. I found a passel of various realtor cards in a kitchen drawer, so there was apparently a lot of interest. Had they only known it was a gift to me from the Maker of Heaven and Earth, they could have saved themselves some time.
Immeasurably more than I asked or imagined.
|Here's one of three fountains in the park.|
The tunnel goes under the street to a fountain on the other side ...
|... where the sidewalk ends with an engraved quote from Seinfeld: "Serenity now!"|
Being thereThe first night I slept in my new home, it was on the couch in an otherwise empty living room, with stacks of moving boxes nearby in the dining area. May 17 was a special night.
The only other furniture I brought was my desk, a small bookcase, a trunk, and the nightstand and lingerie chest I've had since I was 8 years old. So I spent the next few months shopping, decorating, organizing, and planting. It was a fresh start on life, and every morning felt like Christmas.
I'm not exaggerating, folks. That's how good life has been lately. And one reason I'm reveling in it is that all will not be right with my world forever. Some trial or trouble is always around the corner. But I do feel better equipped to handle whatever comes next, because how could I possibly complain about anything?
In my old neighborhood, I barely knew one nice neighbor. And right before I moved out, a crazy neighbor severely vandalized my brand-new, long-awaited vehicle (my first one in over 20 years). It really stinks when you're an innocent victim caught in the crossfire of a feud.
|Bless the rule-following|
citizens of Mayberry
How different it is here! The people are all so friendly. Many of them have dogs and are often out walking them in the quaint, well-kept neighborhood or the marvelous park. So far, I've met Coco, Rocko, Jo-Jo, Tup-Tup, Charlie, Gwen, and Macey, and their owners, of course.
Even the delivery drivers are friendlier here. With my extensive add-to-cart activities online, packages were arriving frequently. I was cleaning my front door one day and stopped when I saw a FedEx guy getting out of his truck. He smiled and waved as he bounded up the walk. I returned the greeting, but my face fell as he veered toward Kevin and Kiara's door. "Don't worry!" he called out cheerfully. "I'll bring you something tomorrow."
I was outside again the next day, and sure enough, he brought me a package, beaming as he said, "I told you I'd bring you something!" I think he was even whistling while he walked. And I think that was the moment I first realized I was living in Mayberry.
If a package is left at my door when I'm not home, Kevin puts it in his house for safekeeping. Then he sends me a text that he has it and to let him know when I'm home. After I do, his next message is "Here I come."
During the Hurricane Harvey aftermath (another great thing about my house is that it's never flooded), I got a text from Kevin that said "Hungry?" After replying "Always," I got the familiar "Here I come." I walked outside to a big smile, a sweet hug, two kolaches, and a donut. Now that's a good neighbor. He's also a brother in Christ.
Ron is great too. He has loaned me his big ladder, unstuck my garage door, and replaced my driveway lightbulb. Every trash day, he picks up my empty can and recycle bin from the curb and puts them by my garage.
One Saturday, just like Kevin said would happen, Ron invited me to have a beer with him and Ruth on their tricked-out patio. It was while I was sweeping out the garage. I was so happy to get the coveted invitation that I dropped my broom and scampered over without a moment's thought of my appearance.
It wasn't until I was sitting on their swing with a cold beer in my hand that I realized I wasn't even fit to be seen at Walmart. No makeup and pulled-back hair were bad enough. But no bra and pajama shorts? Goodness gracious. The best I can say is that my T-shirt wasn't hideous. And all I could do was try to curl up in a ball as much as possible without looking like a total freak.
These times are wonderful even when things don't go as planned. It was raining during the happy hour get-together, so people couldn't flow out onto the patio as I had hoped. But it was cozy with all of us crammed together in my little living room (the open layout makes it feel bigger).
And when Lance and Cheryl came for dinner, my crockpot had been on warm all day instead of low, growing bacteria in the brisket instead of slow-cooking it. But just before they arrived, I made it back from Goode Company BBQ with meat quite likely tastier than any I could have made.
As much as I love having people over, I cherish my alone time, doing things like:
- Sitting on the patio in the morning, drinking coffee and reading my Bible
- Standing barefoot on the patio in the evening, watering my plants with a hose
- Walking in the park at sunset, enjoying God's creation and reflecting on His kindness
I'll leave you with just a few more park pictures and this blissful thought ... Mayberry abides.