I would tell them that often in life you have to choose between where you want to live and what you want to do.
I would point out that most often it takes a long time to be able to have the job that you want and live in a place that you love. No all of them paid attention to me.
For many long years, what I did and where I lived seemed to be in sync with what I loved.
First I got to live a few dreams in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and then with a few twists of fate, our family ended up on the side of mountain in Roanoke, Virginia.
It was a place that we picked after careful consideration. Our first stop in the states after Canada was Columbia, Maryland. It was a place considered by many to be a paradise in a very busy metropolitan area. However, it wasn't for us, and after a couple of years there, we made a family decision to move to Roanoke.
Roanoke felt much more like Canada than Columbia. Perhaps it was a step back in time, but it was just the kind of place we needed to nurture our children and put down some deep roots.
There were many wonderful things that attracted us to Roanoke, but most of all it was the friendly people. We found a wonderful neighborhood not far from Hidden Valley Country Club and its very nice swimming pool where I managed to swim many miles and watch countless swim meets.
Our children had the benefit of everything from soccer, hockey, and dance to riding ponies. While I am not sure our children considered it a benefit, my wife and I were pleased to find that not much goes on in Roanoke that doesn't get back to what my wife liked to call the "Mommie network."
We also really loved the sense of family that came from going to Covenant Presbyterian Church. I'll never forget one of our ministers saying he considered it a compliment that some folks felt comfortable enough to "rest their eyes" during the sermons.
Even after I became a manager at Apple and was given the option of moving back to Northern Virginia, we chose to stay in Roanoke. It was a very comfortable place with many things that we loved from the Roanoke Natural Foods Coop and the Grandin Theatre to the Farmer's Market and Carvin's Cove.
We found friends and a routine that suited us. Our families were located only two hours away in Mount Airy, North Carolina. All the shopping and excitement that anyone could need was just over three hours away in Northern Virginia. Even as the territory I managed grew, Roanoke seemed to be the best place to live. Roanoke never let us down, there was always something to do, and even the beach was just over five and one half hours away.
While many people living in the valley worried about the difficulties that we might face on the mountain, it turned out to be a great place to enjoy a snowstorm. Even during some historic storms, life on the mountain was never a great challenge. Being a family from the mountain just made us a little special and gave us an identity that we treasured.
Many mornings I would roll out of bed and take a picture of the fantastic sunrises that always greeted us. The seasons always brought a different view and a fresh perspective on life from high above the valley. That I got much of my inspiration for writing from living on the mountain is no surprise.
As we move to the next chapter in our lives, we are now living on the watery side of the horizon on North Carolina's Crystal Coast. We sold our mountain side home in 2012, but the memories and the friends that we made on the mountain and in Roanoke will always be with us.
It was great place for our family and a wonderful refuge from many of the things that I like least about modern life. Many times as I hiked the high hills behind our home, I found a rare peace that you only find in special places. For over twenty years, those special places sustained me.
I will never regret having chosen Roanoke for what might be the biggest portion of our adult life. I hope the people who end up with our spot on the mountain find as much support and inspiration from the mountain for their lives as we have.