We really moved!

We did it! We really moved…and it really took a long time to settle in completely. Two year long.

Having a moving company do the heavy work is helpful and horrible all at the same time. When I pack my own boxes, I can go at a pace I can handle and label boxes in detail. Movers – now that’s a different story. What room does this go into? What about this? This? Ahhhh! My head was spinning. Movers are much gentler when being fed, so I kept them fed. Thank you, Costco! Before I knew it, my home of fifteen years was on a truck. My life was ready to roll.

Standing in an empty house that was so full of life was an odd feeling. I could hear the echoes of my children running around, of the dog barking, of family events and of so many memories. Had it been my favorite house? No. We had to find a house quickly and it was the best for our needs that was available. We made it home. To the kids, it was where they went from crib to bed, from pre-school to high school and beyond. I’m one of those who believe wherever I lay my hat is my home. So home it was. But empty, it was a shell. Our lives were in a truck and it was time to let this home go.

Now I was in another state, in another empty home with the task of bring life to the emptiness. Empty became full quickly! Full of boxes, and boxes, and boxes. Even though we told the movers in what room to put every box, it didn’t happen. I even had signs up outside every room with the name of the room. The movers had to come back to rearrange.

I wanted my life back, so I began unpacking with a vengeance. It was also the week before Thanksgiving and I was going to have 25 people over for the holiday. Nuts? I think so, but we always hosted Thanksgiving and were determined to do just that. That meant the kitchen was first. After rearranging numerous times, I had a set-up that worked. Over the next year, I continued to rearrange! Even though I’d had the house professionally cleaned (I can’t do that kind of cleaning anymore), it wasn’t my clean, so I spent a lot of time getting to the nitty-gritty. Though there were still some boxes, the kitchen was ready for a Thanksgiving feast – mostly! With help, most of the food was brought over by folks. Cleaning up we could do. Cooking a major meal, we weren’t ready for that.

Whew, we made it through Thanksgiving and I was getting bedrooms unpacked, focusing on ours. We needed to sleep in this house! The first night was not easy. It was like we were guests in our own home. The bathroom was not unpacked, so we used our toiletry kits as if we were traveling!  We had overnight bags with clothes since the closet was not yet unpacked. And the noises! After living someplace for fifteen years, the noises become part of you, you depend on them to know that all is well. Here we had a new set of noises that didn’t make sense. The weather was cold and the heating system had its own tune. The noises made for an interesting first night.

I know my kids, so I unpacked their boxes and put their belongings in, what I assumed would be, temporary locations. No. For the two in college, their belongings are, for the most part, still where I put them. The one still at home made his room his own and he was a happy camper. Being the youngest, he’d had the smallest room in the old house. Here he was King of the Hill with the largest bedroom. His oldest brother was none too pleased at now having the smallest room. All is fair…

We gave ourselves a year to unpack and that is about what it took. Except for a few boxes in the basement, within a year we had gone through every box. Our requirement to ourselves was that we would not put a box away without going through it. We did manage to find lots of stuff we really didn’t need and donated it to Vietnam Veterans of America. We reached our goal of a year. The basement boxes took one more year and now we have unpacked every box from the move.

Did unpacking boxes equal settling in? No, I don’t think so. That was a different and difficult experience. I was heading into empty-nester territory. Having children in school is the best way to integrate into a new environment. I didn’t have that. I had no family close-by (forty-five minutes to an hour away), and knew no one. It was lonely at first. My oldest still had over a year of high school to go, but it was a new school and honestly, he made friends more easily than I. By junior year of high school, parents are set in their groups – similarly to the kids! Some reached out to say hello, but I didn’t meet any real friends and I missed my old friends. Thank goodness for social media. We joined a religious institution and I started meeting people there. I found a few places to do some volunteer work and started meeting people there. I joined a woman’s organization and met some people there. I was spreading out. I also was very fortunate that the folks up the street moved in about the same time we did and were very friendly. There are also many lovely neighbors on the street. It took time, and while I don’t have the closer relationships here, I feel more settled in that area.

I seriously thought that as I reached the empty-nest stage, life would slow down. Nope. Doesn’t happen. I have gotten so involved that I am busier than ever! Busy is good and I’ll take it.

Then I had to find my way around. Thank goodness for my GPS! It makes life so much easier. Not only did we have to find new doctors (GP, eye, dentist, etc…), I had to find grocery stores, clothing stores, a pharmacy, etc… I did a lot of driving around in the beginning. I consider myself directionally challenged, so finding everything was not fun! It took some doing, but I can go almost anywhere that doesn’t require a highway without the GPS. Fortunately, the hospital is five minutes away. We needed it almost right away!

My youngest runs track and was taking a run around the neighborhood and was hit by a car. He was on the sidewalk, the car jumped the curb. He was hit hard enough that he was knocked down, but seemed okay. He called me. I called 911. 911 is funny sometimes. The operator asked me why I was calling instead of my son. I told her it was because he was sixteen and had been hit by a car! The light bulb went on! He was hit by a car? He is not in a car? Yup, I said, now you’ve got it. An officer was there in moments and I showed up soon after. Of course, a sixteen year old says he isn’t hurt. I could have hugged the officer for telling my child to make sure I was told if there was pain. There was and we were in the ER for almost twelve hours (and he had a final exam the next day). He had some painful contusions, but was okay. He knows a black Nissan Altima hit him. I can’t look at black Nissan Altimas without wondering if… Such was our introduction to our local hospital.

I’ve visited the hospital as well. The yard here was not well taken care of and I was determined to pull the suffocating vines and revive the beautiful azaleas. I pulled so hard that I tore the meniscus in my knee. Having a hospital close is handy. My husband went home while I was in surgery and came back before I woke up! The yard is looking much better and I’m very aware of my knee!

So, we are in, the boxes are unpacked and the house feels like home. So that’s it? No, not really.

Next… the dishwasher, the washing machine, the hated trash compacter… what else could go wrong?

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Moving Means More Than Changing Homes – The Beginning

We moved. It sounds and seems simple. It wasn’t and isn’t. Was it worth it? Yes. Is everything hunky-dory after six months. Not quite. I wanted someone to talk to, so thanks for being there.

For now, let’s skip the part about getting a house ready to sell. Maybe later. My best advice if you are going to sell your home is to have the meanest home inspector you can find inspect your home for you as soon as you decide to sell, or sooner. Find out what buyers will find out before they do so. Oh – don’t repair everything. Inspectors want to be worth their fee, so they will find something, anything to report.

Buying a house is something I forgot about after fifteen years. I suppose I became comfortable and complacent in a house I got to know well. During a power outage, of which there were many, I could find my way in the dark. So the new home search began…

We lucked into a fantastic, no-nonsense, atypical and very patient real estate agent. We thought we knew what we wanted and also realized this would probably be the last home we buy (hopefully). As time went on, our agent really did know what we wanted better than we did. Between my thoughts, my husband’s thoughts, and the one child remaining at home’s thoughts, our agent did a great job of distilling. Almost every house at which we looked had good points…and bad. We politely and quickly walked through the mess of a house at which I exited the car into a pile of dog you-know-what. Even my agent’s amazing x-ray vision couldn’t find the potential in that house (loving home though it was to the family moving). It was so difficult envisioning a new home at this stage of my life. It was difficult to consider that soon the children would all be on their own and that, due to (ahem) aging, our needs were not the same as when we were the parents of three young children. My hubby wanted a commute that didn’t involve highway traffic jams, and I had my own geographical desires. I needed to keep a home going. I also volunteer a lot and wanted to be where I could do so without going into a major city. Since we still had a child attending school, school districts were a consideration. So were taxes. So were housing prices. So were neighborhoods. My head was spinning.

We found a house we loved. Enter the real estate agent on my shoulder. It’s on a main road with a lot of traffic, he warned. We weren’t listening.  The house was move-in ready, beautiful and had almost everything we wanted. We aren’t the renovation type. Think hard, he cautioned. He played the resell a house on a busy road card. He won.

Then there is what we called “The Woodpecker Estate”. The kitchen was huge, the laundry room was huge, the living room had high ceilings and lots of light, the basement could house a city, the land was gorgeous. The house needed many thousands of dollars in repair. And the best part – there were woodpecker holes everywhere! Did the old, though functional elevator in the house trump the woodpeckers? Our agent stayed quiet. The kids loved the house. We were tempted even though we knew we didn’t need all of that space. It had almost everything we wanted. We passed.

I loved the older home in the great neighborhood. Until. Until we got to the third (attic in use) floor. Oh my, the third floor was crooked. Literally. I stopped loving the home.

Then there was house number 51. There was something about it when I walked in. It was the something I’d been waiting for as I entered every house. I felt comfortable. I looked at my agent and whispered, “I feel so comfortable here,” and he said, “Shh, don’t let them know that.” So I didn’t. The kitchen was smaller that we wanted. The house lacked skylights for brightness, there was no bathroom in the basement, the land was or was getting overgrown, the… house felt comfortable. The family room was inviting, the dining room allowed a table to stretch through to the family room for large family gatherings, the master bedroom was on the first floor, the… house felt comfortable. I called my husband.

My family came to see house number 51. Their comments? The kitchen was too small (for them, never mind I do most of the cooking), there were no skylights (nor the ability to add them), there was no bathroom in the basement, the land was or was getting overgrown. Is it comfortable, I asked. They agreed it was enough so for them. We put in a bid. We agreed on a price (after all of the pain-in-the-neck going back and forth negotiating). The process was tiring.

Next… Hey, we are moving! This is real!