I’d like to begin my tenure in this newcomer’s column with an introduction to the cast of characters who make up the craziness of my life:
Emily: Our 5-(going-on-25)-year-old daughter. Every fiber of her crazy little being is Daddy’s Little Girl, and she knows it. She is one of the funniest people I know; a future actress for sure. She’s also crazier than an outhouse rat. But I love her more than she will ever know.
Aidan: Our 8 year-old Einstein. As parents, we owe it to our children to let them win occasionally to get a taste for victory, but not every time so they can also know defeat and good sportsmanship. I am still waiting for him to let me win a few. An hour of tick-tack-toe with him leads to a month of therapy for me.
Jenn: She is my “compass in rough seas and the light that brings me home to safe harbor.” I wrote those words to her just before I proposed 13 years ago. She has supported me through personal and professional U-turns and the occasional dead end. We have been on a wild and crazy ride that now has brought us to one of the greatest towns in this amazing country of ours. She knows how to laugh, often at my expense, but just as often at her own. I couldn’t have done anything without her support. It also helps that she’s pretty easy on the eyes.
Then there’s me.
I am the proverbial traveling salesman; living out of a suitcase, it seems, more often than not. I have a working knowledge of all the best restaurants in nearly every airport in the U.S. A repertoire of jokes that gets nothing but eye rolls from my wife. Full of useless facts that make me seem like I know a thing or two (until you’ve heard them more than once) and a penchant for relaxing in the sun poolside, ocean-side, or just about anywhere I can.
Like many of you, my career has brought us to Fort Mill. But maybe unlike many of you, I wasn’t forced to move. I could have stayed in Connecticut and still kept my job.
Until we visited Fort Mill.
We spoke to people who live here, and they described it with such euphoria that we couldn’t help but be curious. So we looked at the town, at the schools, real estate and the driving distances to here, there and everywhere. The more we looked, the more of a perfect fit Fort Mill came to be. Within a week of returning home, we were full speed ahead in getting ourselves down to Fort Mill. Within two weeks, our house was sold and at the end of the whirlwind month that followed, we found ourselves headed south down I-77, towing a U-Haul with two sleepy children on Labor Day, 2013.
The decision to move was not an easy one; Leaving family back home, a comfortable life, an established routine and a great group of friends. My wife and I were both born in Connecticut and had never lived anywhere else. My family had emigrated from Ireland and has lived in the same town since the 1860s. The thought of living elsewhere hadn’t crossed our minds, nor had we ever had any desire to move.
Now, almost a year has gone by and I can say that I feel more at home here in Fort Mill than I have felt anywhere my entire life.
About a month ago, I was getting schooled by our native neighbors in the finer points of Carolina living – the proper use of “y’all” (and when to use “all y’all”), pimento cheese, shrimp and grits, sweet tea, good Carolina barbeque, the true meaning of “bless his heart” and many other such Southern traditions. I loved every bit of it! It dawned on me that I was, without question, where I needed to be.
I am a Yankee by birth, but I am Southern by choice.
Thank you, Fort Mill.
I look forward to sharing a little slice of my life with you with the hopes that my fellow transplants will chuckle at the fact you are not the only ones going through these changes. And those native to Fort Mill might realize that we Yankees aren’t all that bad. Well, not that bad!
Jim Donohue can be reached at email@example.com.