Since we planned my East Coast trip a few months ago, one of the things on my priority list was to drive down to Winston-Salem, NC and visit our home from the previous three years. I have mentioned it before, but Kev and I didn't live in the same city until we were married for almost a year and a half. Winston was that place. It was the place where we finally were able to be a normal couple. Where I gave birth to both our boys. Where we bought our first house and learned about what it meant to be a family of our own. It is the town where we made our first mutual couple friends and the place where I decided to start a blog. Even though we always knew we would leave, Winston never felt temporary. It felt like home from the first night we spent together in our unfurnished house, eating Chinese take out off the floor. When we left, I convinced myself that we were ready to go, to move on, to experience all that the military life adventure had in store for us. And it wasn't until last Thursday, around 12:14pm, when I saw the sign Winston-Salem 9 Miles that I realized how much I truly missed this place.
My first stop was the school were I was a Pre-K assistant. I was greeted with excited hugs and genuine smiles and my heart soared to feel that warmth which made me look forward to coming to work everyday. I had pre-planned lunch with Jan and Sue, the two women who I taught with and we sat at Forth Street Filling Station for close to 2 hours, catching up on everything.
In retrospect, I didn't realize how much I missed have these mentors in my life. Jan and Sue both got married in their early 20s, have amazingly well behaved, smart and likable teenage children, strong marriages, good faith and compassionate spirits. They taught me so much about how to be a good wife, mother, teacher and friend (and I probably never told them: Jan, Sue- Thank you!).
From there, I headed out to Martha's house to give her a big hug and to meet sweet Bud. Martha is what I call a soul-friend. We randomly met sorting through boxes of donated clothes at a Junior League Event (Martha may have been trying on sparkling jackets with shoulder pads) and it turned out that we both had hubs in the Army, were teachers, and bloggers (you read Softer Side of Strong, right?!) and we lived 6 houses away from each other. True Story. Our first friend date was to a butcher shop. Our second date was to the JL Rummage Sale, where we got in trouble for popping a bottle of wine out in the open (apparently we needed to keep it under the table). As I would learn from that day forward, Martha is more than a rule breaking wino, but also strong, beautiful, confident and smart. She makes me laugh and carries herself with a level of Grace that I admire.
Martha's handsome hubby is off defending our country in Afghanistan, so she is back in Winston for a few months in order to be near family. Our conversations flowed easily, and I was sad to leave after a few hours.
Next up was dinner and a sleepover with my friend Katie. Katie was one of my brother's best friends in college and then found me on facebook when she moved to Winston. We became fast and good friends and I still text her more than any one else. We don't make design decisions without several text-pics back and forth. She unconditionally loves my boys and would defend me in any situation. She also threw us the cutest going away party/baby shower. We spent many an afternoon at the fabric store, taking sewing classes, drinking margartias and talking about life. Now she has a little baby of her own on the way and I kept awkward patting her tummy because I am so excited. We didn't take any pictures because we were too busy gossiping, so instead I snapped one of her cute kitchen nook before I took off. We've been virtually designing this for months.
Friday morning (are you still reading? This is important) I met my dear friend Laura at Cagney's. We had pancakes, grits, biscuits, eggs, bacon, hasbrowns and coffee for $10. Total. If that isn't reason enough to move back to Winston, I don't know what is. Laura was also a new friend by chance (or facebook, however you want to see it). We were in the same sorority at Auburn, but weren't close, but when her hubby decided to attend law school at Wake, she looked up people in Winston, and there I was, living just around the corner. We had lunch one afternoon and solidified a lasting friendship from it. We cooked our way through the Pioneer Woman's cookbook, learned how to grow veggies in our backyard, went for long walks with Cullen and had many a great double date nights at our house. She and Austin even watched Cullen for a weekend when Kev and I had conflicting engagements and neither of our parents were available to come down. Now that's a true friend.
From breakfast, I stopped off at Lindsay's to visit with her and baby Margaret. Lindsay and I also worked together and she took us under her Winston wing when we moved in and didn't have any friends. She invited me to book club and us to New Year's and Superbowl parties. We got pregnant at the same time (her with Margaret and me with Bennett) and we worked at the same place, so we were were able to waddle together until the end of the school year. The year before that, Kev and I, along with his brother and Lindsay and Alan made an epic weekend journey to the Daytona 500, but that is a story for another day. It was so great to see Lindsay and sweet baby M (and again, no pictures were made. Bummer).
In between visiting with Lindsay and my last lunch date, I stopped for a few Winston goodies to bring home.
Before I hit the road, I had a beer with my dear 'Grandma Donna'. Donna also worked at my school and she took care of me like a daughter. She was the first person to watch Cullen so Kev and I could go on a date and was there for me if I ever needed to talk or vent or laugh. While we were still in Winston, Donna was diagnosed with breast cancer and she fought it like the true warrior she is. It never broke her spirit and only made her passion for life stronger. As we were talking on Friday afternoon, she poignantly reminded me that Life's too short, no sense in wasting it being miserable.
Thank you, Winston Family, such for a wonderful visit!