Moving isn’t for sissies. Or so they say. And while I’ve heard that expression most of my adult life, I never put any stock into it because I’ve moved several times and never had a terrible experience. In fact, it was always a welcomed change, and one that I always looked forward to and thought of as a new adventure of sorts.
I’ve been in North Carolina for nearly a month, and if I told you every single bump in the road that I hit trying to get here, you wouldn’t believe it. I mean, I’m a really good writer, and even I couldn’t have orchestrated such a winding, crazy, chaotic narrative! There were so many roadblocks that popped up here, there, and everywhere, that I finally lost count. I barreled through each and every barricade, full speed ahead, because I was determined to finally start chasing my future instead of wallowing in stagnation and doubt. And throughout the entire process, my friends played devil’s advocate by saying things like “maybe it isn’t meant for you to move right now, have you considered that?” — No. No of course not, I would reply in aggravation, thinking that sometimes, things just happen. But the thing is, things have kept happening since late March when I signed my first lease. Yes. My first. You read that right.
It’s no secret that I’ve always wanted to live by the sea. It soothes me when I’m weary and nurtures my soul when it’s almost ready to give up. And during the “trying out phase” of deciding to relocate or not, I was never happier. I’ve vacationed on Oak Island since I was a little girl, so it started feeling like home a long, long time ago. When I came here in December, the plan was to go back to Tennessee in mid-April as a rejuvenated-healed-from-grief-woman (ha, says the universe!); however, as spring started to blossom, I knew deep down I never wanted to go back so I kept extending my time here and diligently started looking for a place to live.
The first house I found was on the island itself and had everything that I was looking for: a two car garage with plenty of storage and room to spare for that hot pink golf cart I’d had my eye on. It had a huge jacuzzi tub, a fireplace that was to die for, hardwood floors, a beautiful, top of the line kitchen smothered in granite and Italian tile. It also had a built in wine rack that would hold 14 bottles of wine, and that was a bonus. I saw it online, and sent an inquiry by email.
The next day, I sent another…
The third day, I called.
The ad said it wouldn’t be ready until November, so I asked why, and was told it was a typo and the house was ready now. SCORE!! I quickly put away the assignment I was working on for a social work class and hurried to the realty office to get a key. I loved the place immediately and signed the lease the very next day. The walls were in dire need of a new facelift, so I spent $400 of my own money on paint and primer. I even found someone on the locals page to help me paint and felt very at peace about the decision I had made to stay. But there was this little nag inside me that kept hovering and I waved it away like a bothersome gnat, telling myself I was just letting fear get in the way of what I really wanted to do. Turns out, that nag was there for a reason.
I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why such a nice, beautiful house stayed on the market more than a few days on an island where long-term rental housing is very hard to come by, especially when pets are involved. I asked a few questions but didn’t really get answers, so I continued to plow forward, slapping doubt plumb out of the way. A couple of weeks after I signed the lease, the next door neighbors approached me outside while I was washing the window screens. They were about my age, very pleasant, and I was happy to make their acquaintance. I kept scrubbing while I talked with them, and then they said it: “We’re going to go ahead and tell you what happened here because you’re going to find out anyway”. I turned off the water so that I could give them my full attention and learned that a friend of the previous tenant had died of a heroin overdose in that house back in January, and that the person who was leasing it up until just a few weeks before was actively dealing drugs until she was forced to move out. My heart sank–first to my knees–and then down to the tips of my toes. Now I’m not afraid of much (spiders and bees maybe), but I have a family member who is an undercover agent and I knew exactly what I could expect: knocks on the door 24/7 from those who didn’t know she no longer lived there. As a single woman, who happens to own a hot pink pistol and is a very good shot, I just couldn’t be okay with that, no matter how hard I tried to talk myself into it (and did I mention that the former tenant, unbeknownst to me, still had keys and garage door openers?? Perhaps that explains the smell of fresh marijuana when I dropped in unexpectedly one particular day…). Fortunately, due to the circumstances, the owners agreed to let me out of the lease, and the search began again.
In the meantime, my car (Lexi is her name!) was rear-ended in Southport. I bought that car in late September and to have it hit really hurt my feelings. Two blows: broken lease, hit car. Okay, I could handle that——and then my passenger not only sued the person who hit us but filed a claim against my insurance too (threes…things come in threes…so you’re in the clear became my mantra). I had a couple of drama-free days and then got a phone call from the university I was planning to attend via RODP in the fall that the online format of the program had been pulled and was only going to be offered on campus. I had to think long and hard about that because my heart was set on that school, but instead, I saw it as a sign that doors were starting to close in Tennessee and took that as confirmation I was to relocate (hey, I’m a woman, I can rationalize anything!).
I did finally find a place to live. It’s a little more than what I had hoped to pay, but it’s in a gated community, and no one can get in without being on a list at the security gate. It’s also on a marina and the view I have of sailboat after sailboat after sailboat is to die for. It’s on the top floor, and there are no elevators, but the view makes it worth it (I count those 32 steps every time I ascend and descend them…1, 2, 3…32, 31, 30…). I signed the lease, dog in tow, and left North Carolina. Once I hit Tennessee, I started packing and recruiting friends to help (thank you Greg & Jan, you both saved the day!).
Moving day arrived. The truck was packed all the way to the door, so I had to rent a trailer to pull behind it (imagine that! Can you say PRINCESS?!). Kyra, my best friend, was game to drive that brand-spanking-new-UHaul all the way across the North Carolina state line so I wouldn’t have the expense of paying movers to do it, and our friend Tami would be coming along for the ride to keep Ky company. I still had a few things here and there that I had to do at the condo, so I cleaned and packed the last few stray items that had been forgotten. I looked for Snickers, and didn’t find him, which bothered me a little bit because he’s my shadow at almost all times and he was nowhere to be found. If you know my dog, you know he’s rarely quiet, and as I walked through the dining room, I found him, noticed that he had a blue block between his paws, chewing it happily, and then realized in a moment of panic that it was rat bait that had been put in the laundry room and garage by the exterminator two years before (“don’t ever let your dog get hold of one of these, they’re deadly”, I remembered him saying). Needless to say, we ended up at the after-hours emergency clinic for the entire evening, with tears and snot flying everywhere. My former husband, as well as my friend Monica, came to sit with me while I listened to the staff induce vomiting on the other side of the waiting room wall. Four long hours later, we were home. And because I wasn’t sure how Snickers would feel the next day, I decided to put off leaving until Monday morning.
Snickers seemed to feel better the next day, so we stuck with our plan to leave on Monday. One hour into our journey, we ran into rain and Kyra called to tell me that the wipers wouldn’t work. I had a mini-freak-out, but she had it all figured out: we would stop at an Auto Zone and buy some Rain-X so that we could keep going (she’s way smart, don’t let her fool you!). It wasn’t long after that when I noticed the brake and signal lights weren’t working on the trailer, so I called Kyra and we pulled into a WalMart parking lot in Wytheville, Virginia only to learn that the lines had been cut from the truck to the trailer. Deliberately cut. Talk about uneasiness! We had no choice but to call roadside assistance and wait. Five hours later, after the mechanic concluded that the truck also had an ignition switch problem that he couldn’t repair that night, we were put up in a hotel (even the dog was saying WTF?!). We finally made it to North Carolina at 9:30 on Tuesday evening, exhausted and hungry, two days later than we were supposed to have arrived.
Nearly every piece of furniture that came off the truck was damaged, one of them being my great grandmother’s china hutch (what happened to that thing about bad stuff coming in threes??). It seemed never-ending, the bad string of luck, but I knew everything was insured and would be repaired. Um, negative. The amount offered to me for repairs won’t even fix three of the multiple scratches and gouges on my Kincaid bedroom furniture that was in pristine condition before it was loaded onto the truck, so I’m currently trying to resolve that issue with the company I hired to load before I explore other avenues. And remember how I told you I thought I would save money by moving myself? I didn’t. In fact, I spent more than I would have if I had just used Sparger Transfer to move me like I had in the past. Moral of the story? Always hire it out! (And always hire Sparger because they’re the best there is in Northeast Tennessee and not one time have I had a speck of damage when I’ve used them).
After everything that’s happened (and there have been other things, but mentioning them doesn’t seem worth the effort), I’ve really started to question whether or not relocating was the right decision. Needing someone to be the voice of reason, I drove to Wilmington to spend two hours with my friend Joyce, who likened all of this to just really bad luck and urged me to hang in there because I was meant to learn something about myself during the process of what I’ve begun to refer to under my breath as “the unraveling”. I also made a late lunch date with my friend Carl this past Friday and as I relayed everything that has happened since I saw him last, he shifted between sitting quietly and nodding as I talked, to animatedly dropping his jaw in surprise as I kept rambling about the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. Finally, when I was finished speaking, he pondered everything he’d heard for a couple of minutes before he said anything: “The universe wasn’t putting up roadblocks because you weren’t supposed to move here. What it was doing was testing you to make sure you really wanted this, and you passed every test. Despite all that’s happened, I’m confident you made the right decision so don’t worry about that, because you’re here now and your new life is waiting for you. Girl, you’ve got this and one day, you’ll look back on everything that’s happened and it will all make sense!” (thankful… I’m so thankful for the like-minded people who love me and keep nudging me along when I’m ready to accept defeat and give up–it takes a village and I’m so glad to have mine).
See you next week.