I usually don’t do the “year in review” thing, but 2013 was chock full of changes one might categorize as “major”. And, while I try to keep blog posts short, be forewarned, this one is anything but brief.
Rewind… as we came out of the holidays in January of 2013, we started prepping our house, which had been on the market since the past June, for the spring market. At the same time, I began prospecting an opportunity to take on a different role at work, which I eventually accepted. Additionally, as I embarked on making the transition at work, no simple task at a company fraught with red tape, our home was abuzz helping to plan a May wedding for our oldest [son]. To complicate things further, we got a contract on our house. All this happening by mid-March.
Facing an imminent move inside of 3-4 months, we head to Nashville in late March to house hunt. Having only a week to make such a complicated decision is stressful and risky, to say the least. When my wife fell and broke her knee late on the first day of house hunting, I felt a pang of doubt I nearly choked on. Add that I would start my new job upon returning to Charlotte, and we’ll be on the home stretch for the late May wedding, let’s just say I was running on fumes.
As we enter May, the floors of our house are slowly being covered by boxes and decorations for the wedding. We have become the staging area for the DIY “wedding planners”. Of course we were also beginning the daunting task of packing the house to move, but quickly realized that was futile until the wedding is over. Imagine how much “stuff” one might stuff into a rather large house occupied by us an our five children in the span of 10 years.
With the thought of packing is now gnawing and grinding at our minds, and during the final week of preparations for May 25th, the date of the wedding, we realize something has gone awry with executing the last milestone for closing on our house. To make the long story short, though the realtors assured us we had merely hit a snag and the closing was simply delayed, in our heart of hearts we knew the buyers we’re in trouble selling the contingency property and would not have the funds to close.
Feeling it would be a major distraction and totally inconsiderate to steal thunder from the moments we come to expect from a wedding gathering, we chose not to share the news about losing the deal on our house until after the event. Though quite heartbreaking, and tough to conceal, we pulled it off. Once we advised our children, family, my employer, and neighbors of the situation, we had yet another major decision to make… pull the sign out of the yard or go back on the market for 30-45 days and play the odds. While 3/4 of the spring market was erased by the deal going south, we chose to go back on the market.
Of course, on top of losing the sale, we had a contingency contract on a house in TN. Imagine that seller’s frustration when we asked for an addendum to our purchase contract, and we proceeded knowing that property could sell and we’d be without a place to live, as well as lose the great interest rate we locked into back in April. Though tempted to raise the white flag, pull the sign, regroup and try again next spring, we stuck with the decision to reset the house for showing. Within the first week we had quite a good bit of activity and very positive feedback.
Cutting to the chase, the house sold to out of state buyers needing to be in NC by the first week of August, and we had to close in TN by late July to keep that deal alive. This gave us about 7-8 weeks to pack the house, all while finalizing paperwork on both ends, while me being in the throws of learning a new role at work. This also meant we would own two houses for eight days after closing on the property in TN, not a comforting position to be in.
We packed for hours daily, making countless runs to the recycling center and Goodwill, gaving items to neighbors and friends, selling stuff on Craigslist, etc., just to lighten the load for the move. All seemingly with no end in sight.
On July 31st, the Allied 18-wheeler pulled up to load out. At midday they called for more help, the job was much larger than anticipated. Sometime after 10:30PM the 90+% loaded truck backed out of the our street. We slept on bed rolls and got up the next morning to finish packing coolers and boxes, load them into our vehicles and a 5’ U-Haul trailer. We also spent 2-3 hours cleaning the house top to bottom, and quite well I might add.
August 1, 2013: The trailer I pulled was loaded down, so my drive time from Charlotte to Nashville, which normally takes just over 7-hours took over 9.5. We got to our new dwelling at roughly 10:30PM CT. When I looked up to thank God for getting us here safely, I noticed stars in clusters, bright and glistening. I’d not seen a sky like this in many years. But, there was only time to enjoy the moment briefly. We unloaded the trailer and vehicles, got the kids settled into their bedrolls, and noticed a voice mail on my wife’s cell phone. It was the movers, they would be here to load in at 8:00AM.
After maybe 4-5 hours of sleep, we were greeted by a hot, sticky August morning. The truck arrived as planned, but the actual bodies to unload the truck showed around 9:30. The process was slow, and we quickly ran out of places to set boxes. Thankfully, we had the unfinished basement, and by 4:30-5:00, we finally saw the back doors of the semi at the end of the street pulling away.
Our original plan was to move with time for the kids to acclimate to the surroundings before having to go to school. That option went out the window when the first sale fell through, we now had a week to get the kids enrolled in schools in another state in less than 5-days. I also had to get a temporary workspace setup and ensure I didn’t miss a beat as a full-time telecommuter. Perhaps most importantly, I had to begin to reconnect with writing and playing music.
Whew, so let the unpacking, setting up, repairs, maintenance, and the basement finishing project begin… yup, there’s more. With many details to spare, suffice it to say we encountered several undisclosed gems needing repair, and all household preventative maintenance had to start over. It also took over a month longer than expected to kick-off the basement project, which in hindsight was a HUGE blessing.
The delay gave us time to improve the design for the spaces and HVAC. Once the project started we hit a pretty major early setback forcing a complete electrical rewiring. And, since we were trying to cut costs, we did a lot of shopping for things like cabinets, tile, etc., etc., very time consuming and often frustrating.
Even through these adjustments, the transition to fall was sweet. The kids got through the bumps in the road of adapting, making friends, going to parties and football games. We love that the town we’re in now is small and very community oriented. Acclimating to F/T telecommuting has gone well, and we’re quite happy to call Fairview, Tennessee home. For all intents and purposes, the basement project is 95% completed as of early December, we’re now through Christmas, and ramping up for 2014.
Re-establishing my writing and music regimens now seems viable. I was blessed by a surprise invitation from a wonderfully gifted writer to a publishing house Christmas party where I met several folks in the industry, and got a sense of why I am here in this 10 year town. I’ve no expectations other than to enjoy what I’m fortunate enough to experience by building on and building new relationships. It’s all humbling, a bit surreal, and exciting… and it’s the here and now.
Who knew 2013 would be such a complicated year, and who knew we’d get through it with faith, health, and hopes intact.