(Not long after we moved here, I was asked to submit stories and articles for the White County News, the local weekly newspaper here in Cleveland. Many times I will re-purpose my “Chasing Bimini” blog and they publish it. This week I decided to write something specifically for them. So, now I’m going the other way – sharing this with you.)
It’s official. One year ago Labor Day we moved to this place called Cleveland, Georgia. Though we had visited White County a few times through the years, we never even dreamed of living here. Oh, we had talked about retiring one day on the lake close by, but that was just talk. We never believed that we could ever live here much less have the chance to be connected to a great place like Truett McConnell College.
You’d think that after 25+ years of living in the city that this move would be too much of a culture shock – that we’d be bored out of our gourds. But it was quite the opposite – especially at first. The quiet, the slower pace, the friendly people – not to mention the steady flow of sweet tea – made it more than wonderful.
When we first moved here we had to get our license plates changed since we were moving from out-of- state. Unfortunately our VIN was one digit off on our insurance policy. The lady at the license plate place offered to call our new insurance agent to get a correct copy so we could be on our way. That right there was too good to be true. The first thing the lady asked the agent was “how are your mama and daddy?” I knew I was home. After a few kind words to the person on the other end of the phone, she took care of our business and then told the agent to say hey to his folks before she hung up. That’s not just efficiency. That’s connection. I realized then how much I had missed that in the city.
Having grown up in a small town, I had missed folks waving to you from their front porches and people saying “howdy” and making small talk at the check out counters. I had missed hand painted signs and barbecue fundraisers, dogs claiming their territories in the middle of a street – ‘cause cars can just go around them. It’s how we roll and we liked it.
Then everything changed.
We started not liking it – but loving it here! And after a whole year, we’re all in. One day not long ago, my husband said, “This seems to be a place that likes who it is. The people are glad to be here and they’re glad you’ve joined them.” Friday night-lights, Saturday farmers’ markets, fall festivals, and Christmas parades just add to the charm. It’s Cleveland saying, “Here we are. Hope you like us.” And we do.
I’m still exploring White County and its wonders – although I tend to revisit my favorites. (I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen a Cabbage Patch baby being “birthed” at Babyland.)
I don’t know how long we’ll be here. We’re leaving those kinds of decisions up to God. But as for me, I’m in a real good, feel good place.