This is good to know as I, too, prepare to leave Mayberry.
What I wasn't quite prepared for was how our leaving would touch the community-at-large. Of course there are all the church folks we've laughed and cried with; the "happy for you, sad for us" response that lets us know we'll be genuinely be missed; the new Lindsley mailbox they gave us full of cards and letters and pictures expressing deep love and affection that will find a prominent place in our new home and be cherished for a long time. But beyond the church: people throughout the community, some we don't even know, coming up to us time and time again with their well-wishes. Almost like there was an article in the local newspaper we didn't see.
Last Friday I had lunch with both boys at the school they will leave this week, and as my oldest returned to his classroom I felt a tug on my sleeve. It was this fifth-grade girl I've known since she was in kindergarten, even though I can never remember her name. For six years she has always waved at me with her bright smile and blue eyes and freckles every time she's seen me in school. On this day, there were words with her smile. I heard you're moving, she said. I told her we were, next week. Still smiling she said, Well, I'll miss you. But I wish you all the best. I hope you do good things! And then she hugged me and turned around and followed her classmates to her room.
It's stuff like this that I hope will never change. When we come back to visit, I want to find that kid and have her wave at me like she always has. I want Snappy Lunch to still be here; even if I don't actually eat their food. I want to grab an Oreo malt from the soda fountain and a glass of Restless Soul from the winery (maybe not back-to-back). I want to wander the streets I used to walk on a daily basis and greet people whether I know them or not; and if a short conversation about the weather ensues, so be it. And I want to see those mountains in the distance, because even as we move to a place where tall human-made constructions of steel and glass and concrete adorn the skyline, and as awesome as I think that is, in the end I still prefer God's handiwork.
And so this week a big truck will pull up in front of our house in Mayberry and load all our stuff in it, and the next day deposit it (hopefully unbroken) in a new house a few hours from here. I guess you could think of it as a spin-off of an original series. Like ol' Andy Taylor taking his bride to the big city, the Lindsleys are heading to Charlotte, and we'll create the storyline that the sitcom writers neglected to tell. We'll make a home out of that house; the boys will make new friends at a new school and my wife will find some arena to engage her passion for "the least of these," be they children or animals. We'll love our new church family in the same way we loved this one here and count ourselves blessed because of it.
But make no mistake - part of us will always be here. With the good friends we care deeply for and with the places in and around this town that in their own way have become sacred space. There's a reason CBS waited until the spin-off to ship Andy out of Mayberry - it was so that, in a way, he'd never leave. He would always be in the place that defined him, doing his Sheriff Taylor thing, just as we remember him doing. And there's a part of me that's very attracted to that. I like a place where memory lives strong - not nostalgically holding us back from moving forward, but constantly reminding us of our roots and the people and places who've made us who we are so we can move boldly into the future. Like a compass, forever keeping us on course as we go here and there and maneuver through the wild ride that is life.
I'm grateful for all of that. I'm grateful that leaving Mayberry doesn't have to involve a total departure. We're going to be writing a pretty awesome spin-off, but the original will always be running in the background. In black and white, of course.