On the Street Where You Live

“Let’s just look for fun.” Famous last words.

While it was totally unfeasible, while there was surely no way we could find a place we could afford to comfortably live in the middle of downtown Charleston with two small children and three pets, while we had finally finished Lucy’s nursery, the final room in the home we planned to raise our children and grow old in, we still decided to look. Because living downtown had always been a dream of ours. And maybe one day we could do it…one day we could pay off our debt, sell most of our belongings and sacrifice square footage to live in the center of everything. But before we took the steps to reach that goal, we needed to at least see if the goal was something we even wanted.

And so we parked near our favorite downtown coffee shop, armed ourselves with caffeine, and traipsed through several cute dwellings in downtown Charleston. One was very spacious, but a little far from where we wanted to be. Another was a great location but super small and had two stories, something we wanted to avoid in our next home. Another had no counter space (unless you counted the top of the washing machine, which I didn’t), and was located next to a fire station. Still, every place had charm and character, and we agreed that while we didn’t feel a strong desire to live in any of the places we had seen, we also felt confident that when the time came, we could find a place that would suit us.

Then Kevin remembered that we still had one more appointment, for a place on Queen Street, right in the historic French Quarter district. “But we should probably just cancel,” he said. “It says no pets allowed.”

“But we’re just looking for fun! Let’s just go check it out. I’m curious to see what a place on Queen Street looks like.”

An hour later, we were putting in an application and pleading with the owners to forgive our three “very well mannered you’d never know they’re even there pets.” While we waited with baited breath for the landlord to decide if we were worthy of the adorable flat we had fallen in love with, we made a game plan. Before we knew it, we couldn’t remember why we had decided to wait to make this move. Just like that, there was no turning back.

A few days later, our house was on the market and we were purging our belongings. Big time. Between trying to keep the house spotless and rushing the little ones out of the house for showings, often with little notice, it has been one crazy summer. Crazy enough to keep me from posting about the fact that Lucy is almost 5 months old, and has left the newborn stage of endless naps and feedings and tears and emerged as the sweetest of girls who is quick with a smile and full of giggles for her silly big sister. Who instantly calms when you hold her tiny hand, and loves to be a part of the action. Or the fact that Penny is speaking in full sentences, says new words and phrases every day, and is so eager to communicate about the world around her. Who loves to help with her little sister by giving her a toy or pacifier or saying a very enthusiastic “Hi Lulu!” in order to elicit a gummy little smile.

Only a couple of months have passed since that fateful day, and now here we sit in this small flat with its’ impossibly tall ceilings, creaky old floors, and sooty brick fireplace. And we can’t stop pinching ourselves. Because we will always appreciate our first family home, the place that sheltered our babies when we brought them home only hours old. But our new residence on Queen Street, around the corner from an ancient cemetery and beautiful churches that remind us of each passing hour with their chiming bells, has felt more like home, more like us, than any place ever has. While Lucy will never get to sleep in that perfect little nursery we spent hours working on in preparation for her arrival, she will get to share a cozy room with her big sister, with a view of an ivy covered worn brick theater out her paned glass window. We will no longer have ample cupboard and closet space and shiny new floors. But we will finally know the convenience of stepping out of our front door and walking to everything. Of living in the center of a city that is seeped in charm and history. We only live once, right?

And we are living a charmed life indeed.