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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Treasures in My Own Backyard

I settled into the tub this morning - for the first time in months - armed with a Mimosa and the latest issue of Southern Living.

That is my own personal Heaven.

I am southern, through and through. Chris could move me to Scandinavia and I would still order grits with my breakfast. I had to "lose" my accent when I worked in television, so Chris always loved when I called my mom on the phone and my proper speech morphed into, "Muh-ther! You are nawt goin' to believe this!"

And yes, I really do call her "mother." I am southern, after all.

Anyway, back to the reason for my time in the tub. My mom and I are about to embark on a little trip to the beach with my girls. Notice I didn't use the word "vacation." In fact, I think another word should be created to describe a trip with children. While it's fun and glorious in it's own right, it's not "relaxing." Thus, I decided to make a trip to the tub to gear up for my trip to the beach.

Make sense?

Chris had given the girls strict orders of "Don't disturb your mother!" His voice was serious - more serious than the "Ann Catherine, sit down!" voice he uses after she gets up from the dinner table for the 18th time to do a little twirl, but less serious than his "If you don't clean up your playroom, I'm going to get a garbage bag and throw all your toys away!" voice. Of course, he never has to grab said garbage bag because the threat alone instills the fear of God in them and they take off running to their playroom to clean. Mission accomplished.

So as I soaked - ALONE! - I began to read my cherished Southern Living. As I dreamed of jaunts to Savannah to Charleston, I came across a piece about the Arts community in Alabama. And there it was - Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment.

Wow! That's in MY town! I was beaming with pride. Then, as I read more about it, I became embarrassed.

I've never been there.

It's right here in my town. I hear about it all the time, but I've never been.

Chris and I love to travel. Since we didn't have kids right away, we did our fair share of traveling. It's how we fell in love with the deserts of Arizona. It's how Napa, California became our favorite place on the map and why a painting of the bed and breakfast we stayed in on our honeymoon AND our tenth anniversary hangs in our home.

We used to love to hop in the car and just GO! So why did it take us ten years of living in the Rocket City to actually visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center?

Oh, I had been there a gazillion times as a television reporter. And the giant Saturn V on I-565 is my girls' signal that "we're home!" when returning from vacation. But it never occurred to Chris and I to visit until living here for almost a decade.

I returned home unable to eat the rest of the day thanks to the G-force ride we took, but I also returned home with such a proud appreciation of my town and the role the people in this town played in sending man to the moon. (Editors note: if you haven't been yet, what are you waiting for?!)

Just last week, I visited Merrimack Hall for the first time to see "Motherhood: the Musical" with some girlfriends. I couldn't get over this little gem tucked away in this revitalized neighborhood in Huntsville. I also couldn't believe yet that I was just meeting it for the first time. (Another Editor's note: ladies, go see this musical!!)

Chris and I both moved to Huntsville as "just another town on the journey." We didn't want to stay, and talked many nights of where life would take us next. But somewhere along the way, we realized what we had here.

It's a beautiful southern city, but full of diversity. That's something you don't get in many southern towns. Our neighborhoods are a mix of third generation Huntsvillians who say "yes ma'am and no ma'am" and rockets scientists and Ph.D's transplanted from northern cities.

We are just as close to the mountains and Asheville, North Carolina - as Chris and I discovered a few years ago - as we are to the beach. That's a pretty perfect combination.

We have professional sports teams, a gorgeous Museum of Art, a pristine Big Spring Park in the middle of downtown, and various musicals and plays almost every weekend. Mixed in with all of this, we have a small town charm that I love.

We moved here because of our jobs. We stayed because we wanted to raise our children here.

So here's my goal - to learn more about this place that I call home. Because if it's good enough for Southern Living, it's certainly good enough for me.