Monday, January 26, 2015

Conditionally titled "Buying a Home in Heaven can be Hell"

Pretty much since the day I had my husband snagged, stapled down with a few babies, and completely and utterly under my thumb, I began to whine and beg to move out of the state of Maryland into the beautiful, utopic state of Anywhere But Maryland.   Now, before Marylanders get all bent out of shape, it's not that I hate Maryland-- I did manage to live there quite happily for 12 years-- it's just that there wasn't really anything that Maryland had that other states didn't have for cheaper and better.  And while I was raised in the Virgina mountains and my husband was raised in Maryland suburbs, one thing we agreed on was that if we did move, we'd want a small, idyllic town, straight out of the Andy Griffith Show, but with the added benefit of diversity, culture, and a good education system.  Sure, we knew it was a long shot, but we also knew that town existed somewhere within the US, it just was going to be a challenge to find a good job in that town.  But my husband is nothing if not excellent in his career, and he also manages to get what he wants (let's be honest, I was the one snagged and bagged).  And this time around, he found the mother lode-- Virginia Tech, based in Blacksburg, Virginia-- that town of which we had always dreamed.

A job being acquired, next step on the list was to find a home.  So with our pre-approval letter in hand, we embarked on three days of seeing dozens of homes with four children tired of the start and stop and "don't touch that!" that accompanies house-hunting.  And, almost too easily to be true, we fell in love with a beautiful house on the outskirts of the city:  great school, great location, great price.  Commence preparation!

We packed up our home in Maryland, waved goodbye to our friends, and moved to Virginia.  (I did not look back once.)  But first, my husband moved into a hotel, since he started work before we closed on our home, and the children and I moved in with my parents, to await settlement.  A week before settlement we got the "All Good!" from our broker.  We cheered, packed up the few belongings scattered around Grandma and Grandpa's house, drove to Blacksburg, and prepared to spend the night (all six of us) in Daddy's hotel room.

The next morning school started for the kids.  From breakfast at the hotel, I got each of them off to their respective schools, waving from my MD registered vehicle with the roof top carrier straining, "We're only drop off today!  Tomorrow the bus will bring them!"

Then we got a  request for another document.  No big deal. So settlement is delayed a day.
Microwave dinners, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made for lunch on the tv table, and another "Just car riders for the day!".

Then another request.  Soup in a bag.  Lunch money to celebrate Last day in the hotel!  Another day of rain on the car carrier, but not worth it to unpack all of *that* into the hotel room for just one more day.

-- Well, you see, the lender is a little nervous about the new job.
-Uh.... what?

-- And the contract position he had temporarily?  That shows job hopping.
-No... that shows that in between leaving one job and moving to start the next, he did a few weeks of contract work to pick up extra money for the move.  It's called financial responsibility and work ethic.
--Well, ten years with one company, then a new job in the middle of the loan process-- it just seems, well, questionable.
-Uhmmm... when we started the approval process we sent you an offer letter.  We are only moving BECAUSE of the new job.  You KNEW this.  What is the problem?

--Well, the lender.....
And it was One more day.

And we waited.... one more day.  Car rider for "today only!"; microwave dinners; four kids in a bed, the same five pairs of clothes for each of us.  (It's amazing how little you need to live.)

I had to fill out Parent Information sheets with "no address yet".
Kolbie had a school project to "draw a picture of your home".  She drew a seven story tall hotel.  She also told people repeatedly that we had "not one, but TWO swimming pools-- one indoor, one outdoor."  A lot of her new friends asked to come spend the night.
Micah asked if we would have to live in the hotel for ever.
The first question anyone asked me upon seeing me each day was "In yet?".  I answered this with a "no, not yet.... " at least forty times a day.
The cleaning staff knew us by name.
The hotel manager new us by name.
The front desk staff would see us coming and automatically extend our checkout by three days.
I habitually asked for my change in quarters for the laundromat.
We celebrated Kayton's 12th birthday by putting up streamers and balloons and eating at Olive Garden, but at night, after the kids fell asleep, I cried over the first birthday EVER for any of my kids that didn't involve a four layer birthday cake and a home made meal.
My son missed his dog, in exodus at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  He claimed he couldn't sleep without him.
The kids began to refer to the hotel as "home".
Each morning and afternoon in the car pool line I got pitying looks at my sopping wet, mold leaking, supposedly-water proof- but- not roof top carrier packed full of all the earthly belongings we had in our possession.
JMahl and I began to refer to the hotel as "home".
People stopped believing we were getting a home and offered to drive us to the nearest homeless shelter should we get kicked out of the hotel.
We DID get kicked out of the hotel and had to move into a different hotel. (over-booked!!!!  No, our kids are not that bad!)
Occasionally I drove past the house, looking longingly, in case a mistake had somehow been made and there was a big sign on the door "Welcome, Stewarts, to your NEW HOME!!!!"
I stopped driving past the house-- terrified I was building dreams that would be deflated.
The moving company holding our truck full of ALL our earthly belongings told me, as nicely as he could, to please stop rescheduling and not to call back until we were literally IN our new home.

Sometimes my husband and I would look at each other and laugh, but mostly we just reaffirmed to each other, with a confidence bordering on insanity, "it's just a delay!"

It felt like forever.  It was, in all honesty, only sixteen days, but each of those days we heard moans of "she's kicking me!" and "why aren't my clothes clean?"  and "when can we go to our new home?' from our children and we listened to their daydreams of "when we get our new house...!"  and "aren't you excited for when we are in our new house...?".  They spent their evenings designing furniture arrangements for their new rooms and determining the best spots for a tree house in the woods behind the house based on their memory of the home. They adapted to their new environment, with little fighting, despite (or maybe because of) the lack of toys and technology to argue over, but the eagerness to be HOME finally was bordering on desperation.  JMahl and I watched a lot of HDTV.

And finally, finally, we were handed the keys.  All the dots crossed, and we came rushing into our home, and the kids claimed their bedrooms and we ooh-ed and aah'ed over the yard and the space and the trees!!!.  And we decorated and lived and were happy and... wow....

And at night, my husband and I sit on our huge wrap-around sofa and watch the fire in our fireplace and the trees out the window and we say "do you remember when?"  and "all that was worth it".

And my kids come running down the stairs, screaming over boundaries crossed and possessions stolen, and then one quiet sweet child sits in my lap and says "Mommy, when can we go back to our *other* house?".  Which one?  I ask, "The one in Maryland?"
No!  She replies, with what may have been horror, "The one we lived in when we first moved to Virginia Tech.  The one with two swimming pools."