Sunday, January 26, 2014

Have I Ever Mentioned I Don't Love Change? (Part 2)

In my last post, I told you about what led up to our decision to move away from everything I had ever known.  I promised to tell you about the chaos that ensued.

Somehow two months went by when I wasn't looking.  Oops.  I have something in the works to increase the frequency of my posts.  But you'll just have to wait to find out what it is.

Anyway, we said 'yes' to the job offer at the end of September.  We were to start the new jobs the last week of October.  Bewilderment set in completely and immediately.  How on earth were we to get our house sold, get physically moved, find a new house, find the kid a new daycare, buy whole new wardrobes for the new dress code we were walking into, get completely reestablished in five weeks?!?

First things first; we started liquidating.

The new company was  generous enough to offer us assistance for the moving of our household goods.  I was incredibly grateful, and eventually realized we couldn't have actually pulled off this move without that help.  But after I got a couple of quotes from movers, I also realized we were not going to be able to take all of our possessions with us.  This made me both anxious and incredibly happy, as we had needed a kick in the pants to clean out tons of junk for a long time.  There was so much stuff we just didn't need or use, but we were holding on to it.

Moving mode kicked in full force.  We came home from work every night, played with the kid for a bit, ate some dinner, put him in bed, and started our second jobs.  We were up until midnight or later a lot of nights sorting, packing, stacking, cleaning.  Hubby made countless runs to charities to drop off things we didn't have time to worry about selling.  The things we DID choose to sell went on Craigslist/FB.  (We had to fund the rest of this move somehow and, remember? We were moving because we'd run out of money.)  I quickly learned what a huge lifesaver, and pain in the rear end, selling on CL/FB can be.  Craigslist is definitely the worst, since people don't have to reveal their real identities.  The weird people, the flaky people, the no-shows, the negotiators... ugh!!  I figured out quickly how to minimize those things the best I could and also how to just cope with it and keep trying.  But oh boy, was it frustrating!

The next four weeks were more of the same.  We gave over two weeks' notice at work, even though we knew the boss would more than likely have to escort us immediately to the door.  (That's how it works in our industry when you're leaving to work for a competitor.)  It was very hard.  The boss was very civil about it, but was obviously unhappy that he had tried to work with us the last time around and it turned out not to be enough.  We explained, honestly, why we were doing what we were doing.  I managed not to cry in his office, but once I walked out, I wasn't so lucky.  I felt terrible.  He'd been very good to us.  But the reality was that unless we wanted to sell our house and live in a tiny two bedroom apartment, giving up a garage and privacy and space and cable TV (and a bunch of other stuff), we just really didn't have much choice.

The president of the company, in an email read to me by my boss, said that in this case he'd support an exception to the 'walk them to the door' rule.  There was something in the email about 'because of their demonstrated character' or something which was really nice to hear.  It was an after-school special moment.  (Can't you hear it now?  "Doing the right thing always pays off.")  At any rate, we didn't become instantly jobless, so that was a pretty huge relief.

The flurry of liquidating at home continued.  We were exhausted.  Terrified.  Excited.  Annoyed.  Angry at times.  I remember feeling like a refugee having to leave my home without a real choice.  I still feel like a small part of that is true.  My brain knows it's not; we could have reorganized things, lived in a small apartment, gotten rid of our dogs, our iPhones and cable TV, sold our car and bought an older/cheaper one, and eaten more Top Ramen.  I get it.  But my heart feels like this was a little bit forced.  I can't help it.  I shouldn't have to give up all those things, darn it.

And every time some Craigslist flake no-showed to buy something, I got annoyed all over again.  Such was life for a few weeks as we prepared for our big move.  We were selling so much of our stuff, we were both in shock that we were willing and able to do it.  The feeling was one I can only describe as robotic.  We knew we had to only take a fraction of our stuff, or we wouldn't stay under our moving allowance, and we didn't have the money to pay anything more.  So it became one foot in front of the other.  On the days I thought I might lose it, hubby held me up.  And vice versa.  We work so well that way.

Those last two and a half weeks, after we gave notice, went by so quickly.  I actually don't remember much of it.  I blame the exhaustion and stress!  Before we knew it, we'd worked our last day at the old place, said our goodbyes, and went home for the final stretch of moving prep.

The next day the movers came.  I've never used movers before.  This was a strange experience.  They only insure what they pack, so besides some books and clothes, we really didn't pack anything ourselves ahead of time.  And in marched three total strangers to put their grubby mitts on all my stuff.  (Okay, truth be told, I was incredibly grateful for them, and as the day wore on and I watched them bust their backs to pack everything, it became abundantly clear that we never could've pulled that off ourselves.)  We'd always moved ourselves completely on our own from start to finish.  This time?  No way it would have happened.

But my anxiety was through the roof.  They moved so quickly and although they were completely appropriate in the way they handled our possessions, it still felt like they were being too rough with my things.  "I would put those things in those boxes so much more delicately," I thought a thousand times that day.  But I didn't say anything, not a word, not even one, all day long.  I bought them pizza for lunch and tried to be as gracious and helpful as possible while also staying out of the way.  It is awkward, let me tell you, to sit on your rump while three young men pack up your entire house for you.  You're pretty much not allowed to help, but you have to be there.  So you're sort of stuck.  Nerve wracking.

So after working from 7:45am to 6:10pm, starting with three movers and ending with five, our stuff was locked up in their truck and off they went.  And we were in a bit of shock.  We slept on an air mattress in our bedroom that night and the kiddo slept on a travel cot type thing.  We convinced him we were going on an adventure.  No, kid, we're not about to do something incredibly scary and stressful, I swear!  We're on an adventure.  Thinking back on it, I'm not sure if that line was more for my benefit or his.

The next two days we spent cleaning our house and tying up a million loose ends.  Before we knew it, Sunday morning had arrived, and we were getting into our cars to make the big journey south.  My emotions were everywhere.  I was still having severe guilt over leaving my parents (and feeling like they have no one else nearby to call if they need something), uprooting my kid from a great school and a great house to march him into the unknown, leaving my great job, the knowledge that without us around to host all the family functions, the family would most likely splinter to some degree.  All of this was so very hard.

So I tried not to think about it and I just drove.  I took a picture of the off-ramp sign as I hopped onto the highway.  I'd taken this route a hundred times since I was a little kid.  Most of our 'time away' since hubby and I have been together was in this city we were now moving to.  It was incredibly surreal to know this was a one-way trip this time.

And then less than an hour down the road, reality slapped me in the face.

Guilt? Anger? Sadness? Fear?

Nope.  A three year old who has to pee.

There we were on the side of the road, attempting to convince his highness to pee outside.  (Something, I'm told, most boys love to do.  This one thinks it's weird.)  Didn't help that it was chilly and there was a pretty decent wind blowing.


It was a long but uneventful drive.  I was reminded - as I am every time I make this drive - of what an incredibly beautiful state I live in.

It made me remember that I wasn't leaving Alaska.  I wasn't leaving my home.  Just moving to a different part of it.  A part where utilities wouldn't consume a third of my income.  A part where -60° temperatures are unheard of and even -20° is incredibly unusual.  Where my kid can play outside all year instead of only half or two thirds of it.  Where I'd be working for a Fortune 500 company with a career focus.  Where I could shop at Target and eat at Olive Garden.  (Don't judge!)

I was completely ecstatic when we finally arrived at our destination after that long day of driving.  Turns out having a toddler and two Chihuahuas in the car for eight hours, along with enough possessions crammed in that you don't want to open a door for fear it won't close again, is somewhat tiring.

We pulled up to our new (rented) townhouse a little before 6:00pm.

What we found inside turned a successful day and our hope and excitement for this move into a giant pile of poo.  Quite literally.

But you'll have to wait for my next post for details!  I promise it won't take me two months.