Happiness Highlights from Raleigh and Richmond

It has been a whirlwind week here in the Reints RV, capped off with finding a place to camp just outside of DC for the 4th of July weekend at the very last minute. (We’re getting pretty good at going with the flow around here, and I don’t even cry anymore when things don’t go the way I expected!) Since last Monday, we’ve been in Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; and Washington, D.C. We’ve slept in guest beds, parked in driveways, and camped in our first National State Park – which isn’t, come to find out, actually run by anyone associated with the nation.

Today, we celebrate our country’s independence, Jared’s 31st birthday, and a whole lot of happiness.

Happiness Highlights: Raleigh, Richmond, Jared

Weekly Happiness Highlights are a list of things that brought me joy, peace, or happiness in the last week. The point is to remember to be grateful, to focus on the good, and to be able to better answer the question “what makes me happy?” If you decide to post your own Happiness Highlights, please feel free to share the link in the comments. I’d love to see what’s making you happy right now!

Raleigh113My entire family fell in love with Ilina and her family. She invited us into her home in Raleigh, North Carolina for three days – which turned into four – and proceeded to dazzle us with her hospitality, charm, grace, and impressive knowledge of her city. She fed us homemade shrimp curry and introduced us to Lebanese deli food. Her two kids and my two kids built forts, put on plays, and got sent to bed early for being very naughty together. Jared and I sat with her and her husband on their front porch for hours, sipping wine, eating the world’s greatest chocolate cake, and discussing corporate America’s responsibility to diversity. It was amazing.

Spending time with like-minded people who laugh and love easily fills me up and makes me believe there is more good in the world than bad.

The four of us also fell in love with Raleigh, North Carolina. This was the first place on our trip that we decided we could definitely see ourselves living someday. It’s a small city, really just a kind of large town that happens to be a state capital, but it has a lot to offer from what we could tell. We were all really impressed with the free museums, the old houses, the walkable neighborhoods, the interesting restaurants, and the numerous magnet schools in the area. The city was gorgeous and smart, and it was the kind of city in which you could easily imagine raising children. Of course, we know nothing about the job market or cost of living in the area and we were only there four days, but we’d definitely like to go back. It was so much fun to discover a brand new place in America to fall in love with.

RachelandRoger Rachel and Roger (and Rachel’s little brother) were our hosts in Richmond, Virginia. They let us park the RV in their driveway and plug in to their electricity, and they invited us into their home for dinner, long chats, and some much needed time on the Wii for the kids. I didn’t know Rachel well before this trip and I was so, so touched by their generosity and hospitality. We also learned more about Rachel, Roger and their daughter Charlotte – but I’m going to tell you more about that story another day because it deserves more than a paragraph. For today I’ll just say that discovering their family brought much happiness into my family’s world.

I know it is popular to say that people suck and the world is full of idiots, but my family met two families in one week that prove otherwise. The world is full of good, strong, caring people. Not perfect people, no, but good people.

Originally, we had just planned to stay one night in Richmond to break up the drive between Raleigh and D.C. However, we learned a few weeks ago that the Museum of the Confederacy was in Richmond, which makes sense since Richmond was the capital of the Confederate States during the Civil War. The four of us have been learning a lot about the Civil War in the last month and were really eager to check this place out before moving North. It did not disappoint.

I am intrigued by the Civil War because of the way in which the story has been told since the war ended. They say that history is written by the people who win wars, but there are places in this country where you can find other versions. Whether you agree with the various perspectives or not, it is fascinating to me to hear the same story being told from numerous angles. At the Museum of the Confederacy, I confess that I fell in love a little bit with Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson. I also fell in love with my country, the United States of America, a little more.

During our tour of the White House of the Confederacy, a man from England asked why the generals of the Confederate Army weren’t hanged for treason after the war. “That’s what happened after our civil wars,” he said – and every American chest in the room puffed up just a bit. We fight – we fight violently at times with one another – but we really are a nation to be proud of. It can be easy to forget that sometimes with all the damn fighting.

As I watch the parades and fireworks over our nation’s capitol tonight, I will remember that my country is strong enough to survive a bloody civil war.  I will celebrate the fact that we still stand united, despite our differences.

BrookGreenGardens326And I will celebrate my husband Jared, who was born on July 4, 1980.

I know I’ve gushed about Jared a lot on this site in recent years, but he’s got it coming. He is the epitome of a good guy and the perfect husband for me. I thank God everyday that he was born and that he has stood by me through more than 11 years, no matter what.

And that he agreed to my hair-brained idea of traveling around the country for a year in an RV. (I mean, really, who does that?)

What was worth celebrating in your life this week?

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