Well, we did it! We finally put to action the idea of a new life that has been bouncing around in our minds for so many years!
It didn’t feel real as we drove away from Seymour that Sunday with no intention of permanently returning. This was a classic case of something that was supposed to be impossibly difficult turning out to be easy. The excitement we had towards everything we knew was ahead of us outweighed the sadness we felt about leaving our family and home. Well, plus, I’d been crying for the better part of everyday the week leading up to our departure. So, once it arrived, my eyes were out of tears and I was already on the other side of grief.
Our truck bed was loaded with all that we’d have with us while we traveled. Everything else we owned, we’d either given away or put in a small storage unit.
We made it 450 of the 800 miles from Seymour to Shreveport on Sunday. In Coldwater, Mississippi, I found a secluded Airbnb cabin that was far enough off the main highways for us to feel safe sleeping while our belongings were exposed in the back of the truck. It was well into the dark of night by the time we got there. Woods surrounded the cabin, and the spray of a lake fountain on the property was the only sound we could hear. We took a walk on unfamiliar grounds to stretch our legs and let Ralphie burn off some puppy energy before we went to sleep.
We finished the last six hours or so of the trek Monday morning. It’s insane how little we knew about the area we were entering. I’d been in contact with an apartment complex manager for a couple weeks trying to find a place that would be suitable (read: furnished) for my and Ethan’s situation. I basically just trusted my gut on the good feeling I had about the unit I chose. A huge purpose of leaving our “norm” was to escape predictability. I didn’t want to arrive to a new area with a list of expectations or unachievable daydreams in my mind.
What a lovely surprise it was to arrive at our new home and find this as the backyard:
It’s such a simple thing to buy groceries, a bedspread, and a shower curtain, but it was the most nesting I’d been able to do for years. We’d spent the past year living with Ethan’s parents, who graciously let us stay in their home while we considered our options in life. Before that, we shared a home with two strangers in Colorado Springs; and before that, we lived with 5 rotating strangers at an oddly arranged Airbnb in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Even Ethan found himself having a great time picking out new towels and dish cloths at Target.
Shreveport is on the west side of the Red River. I love river cities. Love walking by water, love bridges, love watching the flow. We didn’t waste any time before exploring our new domain. We found parking in the downtown-iest part of the city we could find and walked several miles, taking pictures along the way. Being the week of Thanksgiving, the streets were mostly empty, which allowed for us to feel like we owned the place. We looked in windows of “closed for the holidays” businesses, and picked out a few restaurants and bars to add to our Date Nights list.
Ralphie was thrilled to learn we lived two miles from an awesome dog park. There’s a small pond, a walking track that’s about 1/3 of a mile in diameter, and several grassy mounds that make for wonderful fetching courses. We went everyday this week; a tired puppy is a well behaved puppy.
I was so excited to cook our entire Thanksgiving meal this year. I’d contributed at family gatherings in the past; but this time, it was all up to me. I cut up vegetables the night before, and started putting everything together at 10am the morning of Thanksgiving. I was able to get our feast on the table by 1:30pm. Ethan and I said a few things we were thankful for before eating. I made a little plate of ham, sweet potatoes, and corn for Ralphie. We overstuffed ourselves and had to postpone the cutting of pumpkin pie for a few hours. It was simple, yet complete. Just the way we wanted it to be.
Later on, to burn off a tiny, tiny fraction of what we’d eaten, we drove downtown to take an evening walk. It was totally empty. We didn’t see a single car; all of the buildings were dark inside. We walked across the bridge, over the water, and watched the sunset on the city.
Black Friday, after gorging ourselves on Thanksgiving leftovers for breakfast, we decided to check out Kisatchie National Forest. The beautiful weather was out of season, considering what we’re used to around this time of year. The temperature was 72. Sun was shining brightly. We found a trail around Caney Lakes on an app called AllTrails, packed some peanut butter sandwiches, and loaded the dog into the truck for our adventure.
While most of the leaves back in Indiana had already fallen, the leaves here were just entering their prime color pallet. It was an easy-going and gorgeous enough 6 mile hike for the three of us. The only other people we saw on the trail were some local men fishing off of a bridge that crossed part of the lake. They told tales of “gators” in the waters below, and warned us to keep Ralph on a leash.
On Saturday night, Rockets Over the Red Festival was celebrated on both sides of the river between Shreveport and Bossier City. The Christmas decorations are displayed for the first time of the season at this fireworks festival. There were food and dessert trucks, bounce houses, and live music, in addition to the lights and fireworks.
A couple thousand people were there. The music was amazing. The atmosphere was laid back enough that it didn’t feel totally concert-esque, though. The emcee was casual; she spoke as if she were having a conversation with the audience: “Alright y’all! Are the fireworks on the barge this year? Oh, they’re going off on land? Ok folks, we’re gonna start the count down real soon, just gotta wait for this train to pass!” It was cute.
The fireworks were incredible! For a small town festival, we were not expecting a thirty-minute show synched to Christmas music. It was more than entertaining. I think this is the way the Christmas season should be brought in in every city. Oh, and my favorite part of this experience was that “Proud Mary” somehow found it’s way onto the Christmas music playlist…probably just because we’re in Louisiana. I loved it. Can’t wait to see what other new things we get to be a part of during our time here!
Liv – Authentically