Man, nothing like long-distance house-hunting, packing up 14 years’ of apartment life, and an epidemic of the stomach flu to keep a girl busy. But fortunately, the Year of the Dragon has started, and despite some recent excitement, this whole process has been led by our own personal luck dragon. I don’t know what he looks like or where he is, but if you recognize him, thank him for us.
It seems, at every step of this process, that things have fallen neatly into place, logistics-wise. I wanted to telecommute; my boss was so thrilled with the idea that he told me to hire some staff to start a team in Pittsburgh.It’s not exactly a promotion–my employer doesn’t do promotions like that; it’s more like “Here’s some more responsibility, show us whatcha got.” My first hire was to be a “support specialist.” In other words, get someone smart to take 30% of your workload, so you can focus on the Big Stuff. The second resume we got brought me a woman who we hired within 24 hours of getting her resume.
So we started the house-hunting process. We knew we wanted to move into a house: with such a big move, to such a different city, David wanted to be sure we were taking advantage of the decreased cost of living. So we hit Trulia and craigslist, and my folks went house-hunting for the first time in 40 years. Fortunately my mom’s a big fan of HGTV, so she was living a dream. The Luck Dragon hopped onboard Grammy and Pappy’s minivan and worked his magic.
The house is located in Squirrel Hill, exactly the neighborhood we wanted, about three blocks from the main business district. It has three bedrooms, a backyard, a driveway, a finished basement and attic, and–get this–three bathrooms. It comes with a washer, dryer, and laundry tub, along with a full-size stove and dishwasher. David and I goggled at the reasonable rent–the same as we’re currently paying!–and realized the worst thing about the place was the fact that we didn’t have ANY furniture. Keep in mind that we’ve spent years installing Elfa units for our dressers, a Murphy bed (that we’re not bringing with us); we have no dressers, a micro-sized breakfast nook table, and we’re leaving our couch with a friend. Mr. Luck Dragon strolled in, though, and it turns out the owner wanted to move into his new home with as little fanfare as possible. So we’re also getting… a dining room set, two dressers, an A/C window unit, dehumidifier, and space heater. In short, all the things we don’t have, but would need in a full-on house. My parents looked at the place, said we were interested, and the landlord promptly cancelled all his other appointments and emailed me a lease.
And then… moving.
OK, not so much with the Moving: Check. A bout of violent stomach flu brought 75% of the Rockets down in a big way. Much as we stay on top of giving stuff away, we’ve still managed to accumulate a LOT. Every time I expect to look at a room and think, “Wow! Look how much we’ve gotten done!” all I see is more boxes. The upside is, because we have a storage space and have been living boat-like for so long, about half of our belongings were already packed up. And we’ve been able to shuttle boxes to the space every few weeks to make more room.
The funny thing is, I keep expecting to feel some sense of nostalgia for this place. We’ve spent so much time and energy making it into a livable place; I mean, I started a frickin’ BLOG to talk about all the modifications we’ve done. A lot of people have thanked me for that, too, on email, in comments and even in person. But we’ve hit the wall. The Murphy bed was, as we suspected, Project Last Stand, and now we’re desperately trying to figure out what to do with it, because we’re sure as heck not taking it with us.
I feel some twinges, of course. Eliza’s grown into a walking, talking kid here, and she’ll have vague, foggy memories of big windows and a bed that came out of the wall. Gillian won’t remember any of it. We’ll send Christmas cards to our superintendent, Thomas. The owners are gutting the kitchen. They’re re-renting the place for a whopping $2000 a month–a price that made every family in the building, everyone who’d been eyeballing our top-floor corner apartment for so long, shake their heads and say,Wha? I just hope the new renter isn’t a complete asshole, that he or she says hello to Zoe, the three-year-old who visits her great-grandmother Bridget across the wall, that he or she doesn’t mind Zaifa’s newborn baby next door. Which, by the way, will be born a few weeks after we move. That also makes me a little sad.
But then, I think of how the flu had us doing four loads of laundry last week, shoving a total of 36 quarters into old machines six floors down. How I got an emergency work phone call at 6 AM yesterday, and I had to whisper because nothing but plywood separated me from my sleeping husband… and another piece of plywood from my sleeping baby. How the babysitter walked six blocks to get Eliza to a playground, how we don’t have a dining room table, how we have to install carseats every time we go anywhere…
They’re total first world problems. Listen to me bitch. But now that we’ve decided to go, I’m gone. I’ll be able to telecommute once a week. I’ll have a sewing room. David and I will be able to have a nice dinner, at a real table, after the girls have gone to sleep. We’ll be able to open the door and let them run outside into the backyard, and if they barf all over their bedsheets at 2 AM, no big deal; the washing machine’s just downstairs.
Most important, though, was this realization last night, while I was talking to my mom. She’s hoping they don’t get any snow days, because she and my dad want to drive to Chicago to visit my sister and her kids over Easter. As I was thinking about what we’d do for Easter, I thought of my grandmother, who’s 87, and who would be staying alone at my folks’ house over Easter, probably with a quick visit from my brother, and realized: Hey… We could go there for Easter! We could drive down on Good Friday, dye eggs on Saturday, go to the church where I grew up on Sunday morning–with my grandmother! And her great-grandbabies!–and she’ll make a ham, and I’ll make peas and scalloped potatoes, and then that evening we’ll be home in time for The Simpsons.
I talk about the lower cost of living and the house and the job opportunity, but really, it’s about being close to our families.
It’s about going home.