About a year ago, Joel and I were living smack-bang in the middle of suburbia. Or bang-crash, as Ella likes to say. We lived close to Joel’s family which had its benefits, being the young family we were, but both Joel and I wanted more. More space and sunshine. More soulful living. More intentional choices. More water. More sand. More outside. More kids and wide open streets. More simple. More pull-into-our-street-and-get-excited.
We talked for months and months. We put it out there. As in “Universe, where should we be?”. We made up vision boards of all the things we wanted in a home and a place to dig our roots down deep. As the lease was coming to an end on our old place, and change was looming, and decisions hadn’t been made, and morning sickness was pounding me hard, we almost didn’t move. We almost said, “Oh, just another six months”, like we had been saying for far too long. But Joel, being the wise (ish) person he is looked at me and said, “Rachel, if we don’t move now we never will.”
For us, it was a toss-up between country or water. We wanted chickens and herb gardens and great big trees and bonfires at night on our property, but we wanted sunshine to bounce off the ocean and hit our faces each morning, too. We wanted to build sand castles and we wanted long walks by the water and ice-creams on the way home.
In the end, we decided what we really wanted was community. Living on acreage in the middle of the country might have been more soulful, but it also might have been more isolating for us than we’d have liked. We wanted to be able to walk to our local cafe and order our usual coffee and know them there by name. We wanted our kids to play with the kids across the street, bare feet and dirty, staying out way past their bed time. We wanted life and action and people around us, creating a village of our own in a place that felt like home to us.
Water it was, in a little tiny place called Shorncliffe.
Nine months in, it’s felt like we’ve been here forever. Like this little house by the ocean was just waiting for us, sighing exasperatedly, “Well it’s about time. What on EARTH took you so long?”
This home of ours, it’s small and shabby. It has nooks that are hard to work with, floor coverings that are hard to cope with (brown lino-gasp!!), and rooms that really could do with a great deal more love. But this home of ours, it has a cafe at the end of our street. And as we order our coffee in the morning and head down to the water- a quick two minute walk – we kick off our shoes and feel the sun hit our faces and we run, run, run to dig our heels into the sand and feel the cool morning water brush past our feet. And I look down at her, this little girl in my care, and as I watch a grin erupt upon her face, I know like I know the sun will go down tonight that we made the right choice.
It has all the things we wanted in a neighborhood, yes. And yet, most of all, what makes this place home is the village we’ve forged here. Our neighbours have become our daily people. There’s no hair done and lip gloss on and let’s meet for coffee kind of scenarios. It’s bad days and challenging kids and passing wine to each other through our adjoining windows. It’s can I borrow some milk and can you take the kids and put my bins out while you’re at it. It’s sharing the ordinary days, and yet making the ordinary days joyful. Our kids play together like brother and sister. We’ve created Friday night traditions and Sunday afternoon rituals. But what matters most is that, in the daily connections we share, they’ve become like family to us. We are privileged to share our ordinary days with them, to share sides of ourselves that most people don’t see and we are grateful to be inside their home and inside their family in the way that we are.
Tracy and Josh welcomed a brand new baby boy into their arms on Tuesday morning. Baby Alex.
Our newest little village member.
He’s teeny tiny and we love him so.
Here’s to villages. May we find them, may we nourish them, may we grow them.
And a wrap up of our Day In The Life photo challenge. Thank you so much for playing along! It was heaps of fun and I so loved seeing a day in your life. It was really hard to keep up each hour, but because of that, it was a wonderful experiment in being conscious of the hours that whizz by and the things we do inside each of them. And also a little mantra to Time to SLOW DOWN ALREADY. There are a million things which went unphotographed of course — a million more messy beautiful things — but here is a snapshot of my day: 7am – 7pm.
Getting this sweet thing up and starting the day // Second cup, slightly stronger // Hanging out with my girl while our little boy sleeps // Washing // Lunchtime. Otherwise known as gazing at my boy and feeling all crazy lucky // Expressing milk. Doesn’t get more glamorous than that! // Editing photos while my two babies sleep // Two sleeping babies! Still! // Playdate // Our beach // Dinner with my girl // Post-bath massage ritual // Babies in bed, dressing gown on, wine in hand, last day of my 10 day solo parenting gig coming to an end.
Happy weekending, friends.
See you back here soon