Long Story Long
I haven’t written in a while because Geoff and I just recently moved. That’s right, my sweet husband has a name and it’s Geoff. I too have a name, Lindsey. I’ve decided to give up on anonymity since most of our colleagues now know about our plans and have read the blog, and because, soon enough, our students will know as well.
Back to the move– We unexpectedly sold our house in two weeks. We put it on the market in December hoping that it would sell by June when we were ready to move, but through some sort of real-estate miracle, we got an offer after two weeks, and accepted. Highly practical people that we are (except for the whole moving to the country thing) we couldn’t guarantee that any other offers would come along, so we negotiated a fair final price and counted our blessings. However, the unexpectedly early sale of our house did raise another dilemma—where should we live? We are bound contractually and morally to our current jobs until June, so leaving town was not something we would even consider. That meant only one thing, we needed to find a rental. Since I’ve taken upon myself to be point person for a lot of logistical components of this venture, I got to work looking for rentals. This prospect turned out to be a lot easier in my mind than it was in reality.
The chief problem in our search, other than the time of year, was the 113 pounds of canine companionship we’d be moving along with our million pounds worth of stuff. Although Scooter is the runt of the litter and a delicate representation of his breed (San Antonio Street Dog) he is considered by most apartments and future landlords to be a large dog. If he’s a large dog, Bailey must be Dog-zilla. After my internet search turned out to be fruitless, highlighted by such wonderful quotes as:
Potential Landlord: How many people in your family?
Potential Landlord: How many people in your family?
Me: Two, just two.
Potential Landlord: Really, so few. Hmmm.
Me (thinking I’m golden because this guy was expecting the Duggers): Oh, and we have two medium sized dogs.
Potentially No-Longer Potential Landlord: Oh no. No Pets.
Me (foolishly optimistic): But they’re really well behaved (white lie) and they’re house trained.
Not Remotely Potential Landlord: No, no pets. (Click)
I turned to our realtor, a Sassy Southern Lady (She signed one of her emails to me, “Roll Tide” Gotta love it!) of a certain age who constantly confuses Geoff by showing up in slightly different outfits with slightly different hairstyles (For an ecologist, Geoff has trouble with the ever changing plumage of homo sapiens sapiens) for help securing a rental. She is awesome, and she is Bluetooth compatible, so I assumed we’d find a rental lickidee split. Not so. My favorite quote, “your dogs are killing me.” Undaunted, I marched on.
One Saturday, about two weeks before we had to be out, I got in my car and drove all over town. Inventory was light, but I came back with a few numbers in hand and a slightly less doomed feeling. God smiled on us, when, after a few more, “No Pets!” and “Oh, hun, we just rented it. Sorry, it’s gone” statements, we finally found someone who was willing to entertain the idea of pets and wanted to show us the inside of the house. I think it was my description of Scooter as half-the-size-of-a-lab-with-twice-the-personality that opened the door for us. The whole thing turned out to be a match made in heaven. The owner was looking for someone to rent for six months until he could put the house back on the market in the summer, and we were looking for a place to stay that was not near too many heroin addicts and would take dogs. After a late-night rendezvous with the owner’s mom/realtor at the grocery store we had our rental, signed and secure. Although the experience was stressful at the time, one thing it reiterated for me was how nice it is to be able to do business with genuinely kind, reasonable people. That idea that business decisions should have nothing to do with personal values or preferences, and that it is okay to be a jerk if it is for the purpose of gaining money or power really has no merit in my opinion. If I am going to be a business lady (and I am, because the farm is a business) I prefer my philosophy to be that everything is personal. Every interaction I have defines my character, so why would I want my business character to be any different than my personal character? I am very impressed by the way our landlord and his mom/realtor do business.
Now, one might assume that I breathed a huge sigh of relief once we found a place for our family of two plus canine companions to live—fraid not. That is because, although I am someone who invents off the wall ideas that sometimes send me over half way around the world, I am not someone who enjoys moving. I hate packing. I hate it so much I don’t even like to decorate for Christmas because it feels just like packing and unpacking (and I have a slightly allergic reaction to seasonal decorating). The moment it really hit me that we would be packing and moving twice in six months is the exact moment my “Wedding Stomach” kicked in. For more information on wedding stomach, please see the footnote below. In the days since we signed our lease I’ve been chewing Tums like it’s my job. The highlight of my stomach woes came at 6:30 AM on the day we planned to move to the rental. In addition to being real-estate barons, Geoff and I both teach at a unique, demanding, public magnet school. At the same time we were meant to be packing up our lives in preparation for two moves, I was planning a week long trip for 120 sophomores to New Mexico, and Geoff was starting a new season as pitching coach for the baseball team while also trying to get his bus drivers license (the baseball field is a five minute bus ride from the school, no license, no practice). A typical day in my schedule looks like this. Last Thursday during my conference period I had to scan a fee waiver in the computer lab because the fax machine at Carlsbad Caverns was not working and I needed to instead email the education director with waiver so we could save the $900 they would have charged us if we were civilians. While in the lab, which was also playing host to a group of parents of perspective students we got word about a lockdown drill that was going to take place. Since I was able bodied and in the lab, I was chosen to sit with the parents during the drill. While we were in lockdown, I proofed the power point for the trip chaperone meeting we were having later that night. After the lockdown when I was finally able to get back to my classroom, I made a quick call to hire movers. I had to convince the movers to work on a Sunday, their normal day off, and still negotiated a fifteen percent discount because I was a repeat customer. For the next six hours I taught students English, tutored after school in preparation for the upcoming state mandated exams, sold hooded sweatshirts as a fundraiser for our trip, hosted a parent information meeting, passed out report cards, and stood in line at the HEB at 7:00 o’clock at night to get a garage sale permit for the garage sale we would be having on Saturday while Geoff was at baseball tryouts. I normally willingly add a lot to my own plate, but this is stretching it even for my standards.
The morning of the garage sale it was 31 degrees. I persuaded my dear friend Adele to help me since Geoff had practice so that I would not get abducted or killed. In general I am a brave person, but garage sales attract crazies, and no one likes getting abducted. Despite the frigid weather we had a great turnout. Geoff was able to help us offload some of our big furniture items to this nice man wearing flip-flops and a t-shirt. As the pictures can attest, he was willing to fully utilize all available space in the bed of his truck. Adele is the one in the hat helping with the heavy lifting. Most of the visitors to the sale were normal, with the exception of three. There was a mother daughter duo who I am pretty sure we are going to see on the next episode of Hoarders. They got to the sale about thirty minutes before it was supposed to start (being quasi professional garage sellers we knew to put out the inventory early and to expect the pros before dawn) and worked it like they owned it. They talked ninety miles an hour and touched literally every single item we had. Two minutes and almost $100 later they walked away with I’m not even sure what. The second suspicious customer was the reason they invented the Amber Alert. This guy was creepy. Rather than walking, he shuffled. Rather that talking, he mumbled. And, rather that wearing normal clothes, he wore Chester the Molester sweatpants and house shoes. Every word out of his mouth was a backhanded compliment, “Oh I see the good stuff must have already been taken.” Or, “I didn’t see very many signs, I’m surprised you have such a big turn out.” Well, sir, if we did not have enough advertisement, then how did you know to bring your creepy behind to our well-appointed garage sale? Adele and I simultaneously uttered a resounding, “No!” when he asked if there were more items available in the house. Rule #1 of surviving a garage sale and not getting abducted, do not let the crazy man into the house.
Other than that disturbing episode we really did have fun at the garage sale. Temperatures never topped forty degrees, but we kept our spirits up by singing inspiring songs about unusual items for sale (and sadly one not, the fish-wearing-a-turtle-neck). My personal favorite moment was when I tried to sell a VCR and 50 VHS tapes to a mostly deaf elderly man for $2. I kept screaming, “It’s all $2” and he kept screaming, “2$ each?” “No, $2 for everything all together.” Finally the grandson came along and helped us out. The grandpa would not stop giggling. He thought I was an idiot. But, it was one less thing to have to take to good will. Good times. Good times.
After a morning spent in near freezing temperatures, I had the afternoon and evening to get packed before the movers arrived the next morning. This is when my spirits started to dwindle. I knew from previous experience in my life that I could pack up an entire house in 24 hours, but I was not looking forward to it. Poor Geoff had baseball tryouts all day in the cold and then got home after dark to a palpably stressed me, and a not yet half-packed house. Bummer. Spirits were definitely low, but we mustered on. I packed until my self-appointed bed time of 10:01 and set the alarm for the next day. By the time the crew arrived we had nearly everything packed up. If you ever need to move in San Antonio, I highly recommend J. Silva Movers. They are superb—funny, delicate, efficient, and dependable. Since the guys had moved me twice before, they recognized a lot of my stuff. They just kept saying, “The last time we moved you, it only took like an hour and a half, what happened?” I got married, to a biologist, with snakes, and a big screen. Embarrassingly, we filled the truck and the back of a regular pick-up, and there is still stuff left at the house. I’ve figured out the problem though. We own too many chairs. We moved six dining room chairs, four bar stools, two lounge chairs, two desk chairs, a rocking chair, a glider, a bench, three Adirondack chairs, and six rustic farmhouse kitchen table chairs from Geoff’s great-grandparents. So there. We are conspicuous consumers of chairs. We’ve come a long way though, because when I moved in we had two futons. It’s all about baby steps. We are now a zero futon family, but we do have a chair problem.
Top Realizations about Life and Marriage Brought about by the Trauma of Moving:
1) Having a partner in life’s crazy, tumultuous, stressful times (even when I instigate a lot of that craziness through harebrained ideas and personal choices) is really comforting and wonderful. Even when we were technically homeless for two weeks, I was confident we’d be okay because we were together. And when stress levels have gotten high, Geoff has jumped in with sweet gestures that make things feel okay. Example 1: The hand picked gerbera daisy he place in the change holder in my car on moving day. He planted gerbera daisies in our front flower bed last spring because he knows I love them and they remind me of my grandpa. Example 2: The spontaneous, well crafted dinner he created after I burst into tears when we broke the gas knob and could not get the stove to work. He used our only heating element, the toaster, to heat some make shift bruschetta and paired them with the fresh mozzarella and pesto I had planed to use with our uncookable chicken. And he opened a bottle of wine, which makes everything better.
2) I still don’t like moving.
3) It is possible within the span of one day to have cable installed, secure a power of attorney for a real estate transaction, have a contract notarized, buy airline tickets to Kentucky, unpack all the boxes in the kitchen, play with the dogs, teach the children, and be in bed by 10:01.
4) High ceilings do make a difference.
* Wedding Stomach: an affliction apparently not uncommon among brides planning their weddings. I was diagnosed about a month into my wedding planning process. I went to the doctor with debilitating upper abdominal pains. After a few minutes of me trying to convince her that I was surely going to die if I did not receive and immediate stomach and esophageal transplant, she interrupted me to ask when my wedding date was. What? How did she know I was getting married? The doc said she took one look at my engagement ring and listened to the description of the timetable of the onset of my symptoms, and she had a hunch she knew what was wrong. A prescription dose of Prylosec later I was sent off into the world to plan my wedding and avoid tomatoes and alcohol. I did feel remarkably better after the wedding, although I still have to stay away from some foods.