Monday, January 2, 2017

Here at Last OKI....Part I

It's no secret that I have always loved the beach, a feeling that was probably passed down from my mother in the same way that I got my father's blue eyes.

Over 25 years ago, my parents and grandparents took my younger brother and me on a beach trip. We stayed at my grandfather's sister's house in Long Beach, and although the weather wasn't great for being out on the beach, Matt and I both remember that trip. We remember staying up way past our bed times to play Uno with the whole family and getting to take a ferry ride to visit an aquarium. Matt and I grew up being lucky enough go on many vacations, so it wasn't the vacation itself or even the beach that made this particular trip memorable, but it was the way that the 7 of us spent most of the trip hiding from the rain in a tiny little beach house just laughing and being together.
Late night UNO
Leaving the Ft. Fisher Aquarium

Twenty six years and a lot of life after that trip, in January of 2016, I made the decision to put my house up for sale. I didn't have an exact destination in mind, but knew that I wanted to move to a different neighborhood and the time seemed right for selling. I was lucky enough to know that I could move in with my parents for a while to give myself time to decide on my next step. Thanks to a great market and a fantastic real estate agent, I had two offers on my house in 3 weeks of it being for sale. I accepted an offer and a closing date was set for March 31. I worked on moving into my parents' house and moved my furniture into storage.

One weekend in February, the three of us went to dinner at Old Stone Steakhouse and were talking about the unbelievable quickness of my house being sold. My dad said, "Well, instead of you saving to look for a house in Belmont, why don't we just all move to the beach?" Moving to the beach is something my mom has talked about wanting to do for my whole life, so as great as the prospect sounded for them, I didn't really think much about it.

Until, that is, one day in March when I got a text from my mom that read, "Your dad says that you and I should go check out houses at the beach this weekend." You see, while looking for a house to rent for our summer beach trip, I happened across a house for sale on Oak Island that looked great in the listing (HA!....that's foreshadowing....). I sent it to my parents and jokingly told them we could all go in together and buy this house and make that move. The joke was on me, because that weekend, my mom and I set off on a 24 hour mission to check out a few NC beaches. We drove straight to Southport, stopping at Fishy Fishy Cafe for lunch, then drove all around different neighborhoods in Southport before going to check out the house I'd found on Oak Island. That house was definitely NOT the one, but we continued our trek, making our way north to check out neighborhoods in Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach before returning the next day. The only decision that we really came to that weekend was that Oak Island just didn't seem like it was for us. To be honest, thinking about moving to the beach was still just a fun game to me, seeing as how I knew I'd be hard pressed to find a job in any of the areas we looked in.

Even though it kind of seemed like a far fetched dream, it started to get a little more real in mid-March when Matt flew down to spend a weekend in Asheville with us while I ran the Biltmore Half Marathon. The reason it started to seem more real is because my parents actually told Matt that they were thinking of moving to the beach....but it would probably be a long process. Or so we thought. At the end of March, I signed the closing papers to finalize the sale of my house.
My first house

The day after that, my parents and I drove back down to the coast to investigate a little more...but this time, with a real estate agent, which meant we are actually looking at houses, not just driving by. By this time, my parents had decided they were definitely going to move, but I was still in limbo. I was debating between moving with them (which meant finding a house we all agreed on and going in together on buying), finding something of my own, or just renting their house back in Gastonia once they moved and visiting as much as possible. My dilemma was that I really wanted to move to the beach, but I knew I couldn't do it without finding a new job. So again at the end of this trip, no real decisions had been made except that.....our search focus was now Oak Island. Yep, the one place my mom and I had already decided we didn't want to be. The thing is, after looking at nearly 20 houses over the course of 2 days in Calabash, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle, Supply, Oak Island, and Southport, we all agreed that if we were going to move to the beach....we were going to move to the beach. And after spending time on the island, we ended up falling just a little in love with it, a feeling that seems to grow each time we spend more time there.

By April, it seemed that my parents or I were making frequent trips to the island. After looking and looking at houses, we finally decided we weren't going to find the "perfect" house, so we changed the search to looking at lots. It didn't take long to find a pretty perfect lot. By the end of April, my parents had closed on a parcel of land on Oak Island that was actually 2 lots that had been put together by previous owners. That meant that we could easily separate it back out into 2 separate lots and build 2 houses. Since I still wasn't sure that I would be moving, knowing that I had the option to build my own house when the time was right for me seemed pretty perfect. It's probably worth mentioning that although I was constantly in doubt that I would be moving to the coast with my parents or any time in the near future, my mom never looked at it happening any other way. Any time I said something about their big move, she made sure to correct me and tell me that she had faith that we'd all be moving together.

I celebrated finishing up my yearly contract at Cleveland Community College in mid-May by spending a long weekend in OKI with my mom, meeting with their builder, checking out the lots, and soaking up as much Vitamin Sea as possible. My mom was dreaming about the day she'd be moving to the island for good, and I was just thankful that if nothing else, I'd get to spend weekends and summers at the beach!

At this point, I was super excited for my parents but really had no clue what the next few months had in store.


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