MICHELLE IS MOVING TO NORTH CAROLINA IN TWO WEEKS!
I can’t even play this cool. I can’t. I was going to make this long, drawn out, multiple-paragraph speech about how I had huge news, was so excited, kind of put some anticipation into the gossip, but I already ruined it: SPOILER: MY SISTER IS GOING TO BE MY NEIGHBOR BY MID-AUGUST.
Yes. YES. Like, not neighbor on the same street, but she’ll only be a couple blocks away. Five minutes, basically. We’ll share the same grocery store and RedBox and gas station, like, THAT is how close we’ll be.
I’ve been sitting on this information for months and it’s been KILLING ME not to share. I love sharing happy news. It’s one of my greatest pleasures in life. But, you know, it’s the Internet and lots of people read it, and until everything was Definite, the paperwork was done, the jobs were notified, the friends who needed to be told first were told, all of that– I couldn’t say anything.
All that’s done now, though, and OMG CAN YOU BELIEVE IT! I can’t. What. We’ve been talking about her moving down for FIVE YEARS, that’s how long this has been in the works. It’s only been the last couple months that it was likely going to be a reality, though. And it’s only been the last two days that ISH. GOT. REAL.
Okay, settle in, because this entry is awesome, and filled with happiness and my sister and some amazing conversations, so. Yeah. Get comfy.
SO. Where to start.
I’ll just give you a little foundation for everything. Currently, Michelle and Chris live in Northern Virginia. They have a beautiful, new townhouse that is Hugely Expensive. Heh. As long as both of them worked full time, they could afford it. What they couldn’t afford is to have another child, or for Michelle to stay at home with the children. Both of which they desperately wanted.
So, they decided to move. To get out of that house, at least, and preferably out of the area: it’s expensive, parts of it are pretty shady, and the school system isn’t that great. Michelle told Chris she REALLY wanted to live by me. Housing is cheaper here, the pay is comparable, our schools are great and it’s incredibly safe. And ME. There’s ME, in all my loud-mouthed glory. Heh.
Chris began to look for positions down here. He sent out applications. Got invited to this job fair, which– being real– I thought was a waste of time. But he drove down anyway, dressed up, shook hands, and got information.
A couple weeks later, they email him about a help desk position.
The pay is too low, so he has to decline– but while talking to the woman on the phone, it comes up that he has management experience, and they have a managerial position open. She likes Chris, so she puts him in for that position instead.
One week and two phone interviews later: they wanted him down here on Tuesday to do a final, face-to-face discussion.
Michelle and I HAVE to believe that they’re offering him the job at this point. We’re excited, but. You know. It’s all happening kind of fast, heh. It’s all Too Good To Be True.
They drive down. He goes to the interview in the morning, and takes my car. Michelle and Chris decided to rent a home in the area when they move and skip another mortgage headache, so they’ve made a few appointments to see rental properties– our first viewing is about an hour after his interview.
Wait. Wait. No word from him. Finally pack the kids in the car, text him the address, and head over to the property. Chris calls when we turn onto the last street, and he says, yes, they offered, he’s accepted, and Michelle starts to FREAK. OUT. It’s like barely controlled freaking out, with the little jazz hands and mouth-opening-closing-in-quick-succession. Heh. We’re squealing. Losing our minds. Kids in the backseat could not care less. Mills is sobbing and mine are all LIFE IS BORING and IT’S SO HOT and WHERE ARE WE!
The first rental property is awesome. Actually, let me throw another aside in here:
IT IS CRAZY AS EFF TRYING TO RENT IN THIS AREA.
Renting here is like buying during the housing bubble. I remember years ago looking for homes with Jason– seeing a new listing pop up, calling to schedule a viewing, and finding out it already had six offers on it. This was history repeating. All the realtors said they just can’t keep rentals on the market– they disappear within a day or two. Michelle and Chris called forty listings, and almost all had rented already. We saw pretty much EVERY pet-friendly property in a twenty mile radius, and it only totaled, maybe– five houses. Three of which already had applications pending.
(You’re thinking maybe get an apartment? Nope. No three-bedrooms available until the fall. We called around. Again: EVERYWHERE.)
So here’s the breakdown of hours and hours of searching, driving, and walking through houses:
Great. Older. Huge, with five bedrooms. In an established neighborhood. I later call it “the perfect 1980′s movie house”, which Michelle and Chris laugh really hard at, because, YEP. That’s it. Giant sitcom kitchen with double-sided fireplace, banisters to slide down, and weird neat doors that go to attic rooms. “If we lived there,” Michelle quips, “we’d be going on ski vacations all the time and leaving kids home alone.”
“You’d all be wearing leg warmers,” I answer, “with Flock of Seagulls hair.”
Three bedrooms, another older neighborhood. The listing sounds promising. I tell Jason later: “I’m going to describe this to you, and it’s going to sound like a much better house than it is.” Two car garage, bonus room, screened-in porch, kids rooms with dormers and connecting bath. BUT IT IS NOT CUTE. Everything is in disrepair. Things are dirty. The counters are smashed. The sink is disgusting. The screens are falling off the porch. The yard is fenced but covered in weeds and bee’s nests. PASS.
Townhome. We just keep going smaller and cheaper. Heh. This townhome is a block from me, but it is TINY. Tiny, tiny, tiny. Like, in the bedrooms, I can almost touch both walls with my hands. It doesn’t help that the homeowner made everything dark: dark carpet, dark floors, dark walls. When we get outside, Chris is like, “I CAN BREATHE AGAIN.” and we’re like, “RIGHT.” It’s just very claustrophobic.
Thus ends the first day. We’re feeling kind of discouraged, but have another showing in the morning, so. Fingers crossed. Decide not to make any offers on those homes. At least two found tenants already.
Second day of hunting–
This is in another quiet neighborhood that Michelle and Chris liked in the past. Rentals rarely come up there, so this was a big deal, and– again, on paper– it sounds promising. It’s a single family, three bedrooms. One car garage. We go and visit and– I don’t know. It isn’t bad. But it isn’t IT, either. It’s kind of small, but not like the other townhouse. It’s in good condition. The street is lovely. There’s a dog park right next door.
Michelle wants to put an application in, just because they have NO OPTIONS and now Chris is starting a job in a couple weeks and they need to move, and GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOVERNMENT WORK. Chris isn’t convinced, but he agrees to put the application in, just in case.
They go home to start the process. I’m like, “You should check on Trulia to see if there’s any new listings, just in case.” Just because they come and go every ten hours.
We look. Michelle finds a few more. She calls the agents. Almost all are already rented. There is one, just one, that accepts pets and is available for a showing that morning.
I’d gone upstairs to hang out with the kids and when I come back down, she’s like, “Check this out! I found a townhouse, and we’re going to see it in an hour… Where exactly is this neighborhood?”
My eyes straight FALL OUT OF MY HEAD. “That’s my dream subdivision!” I gasp. “The one I always make you drive through with me and point out the houses I’m going to buy! The one with the lake and the white picket fences and the farmer’s market–”
“Oh my God, we did trick or treating there that one year?” she jumps in. “And the entire world was made of magic and candy? And I was like THIS IS WHAT I WANT FOREVER?”
“YESSSSSS!” I can’t. I’m like, OVER THE MOON. “And when I move, that’s where I’m headed, so I’ll be EVEN CLOSER TO YOU!”
She’s stoked. I’m stoked. Kids: still indifferent. Heh. So we go to this townhouse with high hopes, and we get there, and all of those hopes? FULFILLED.
Oh, you guys. You just have to see this in person. It’s so lovely.
The townhouse portion of the subdivision is only a few streets. All of those streets are tree-lined, and they’re all in full, pink bloom. There are walking paths everywhere. It’s quiet, and tucked away. Their new home is at the end of the subdivision, on the final loop. There’s parking for guests right across from their driveway. They back to a forest, and beyond that, the farm that sells pumpkins and Christmas trees.
The house itself is new, three stories tall, with shingles and brick and a barn-style garage door. Stained glass entry. On the bottom level is a bedroom with its own bath and walk-out, so PERFECT for our out-of-town friends and parents. The middle level is a living room with deck, fireplace, built-in shelves, half bath, and huge eat-in kitchen. The upper level only has two bedrooms, but they’re both masters, and ginormous. The one that Millie and a future sibling will share has a cathedral ceiling and wall of windows. I tell Michelle later: “It makes me think of those old orphanages.”
Michelle: “That sounds HORRIBLE.” We laugh.
I amend, “No, no, like– a story, like how the headmistress bursts in all HELLO MY LOVELIES, LET’S GREET THE DAY! and opens the curtains, and all the little children wake up in their beds.” I pause. “It makes me think of ‘Madeline’ or something. It’s really cute. I love it.”
Michelle loves it, too, and so does Chris. It’s perfect for the next two or three years. They put in an application thirty minutes later, which is approved as they drove home to Virginia. They get the keys on the 16th.
This is actually happening. It’s so surreal.
That’s most of the bare bones gossip.
The visit was littered with great moments, though. Just quieter ones. Sweet ones. Silly ones. A lot of kissing babies and kids being funny. A lot of Michelle and I laughing over Craigslist postings. One for-rent property LITERALLY READ:
three bedrooms and “Fireplace”, call tosee
“WHAT,” I whispered. I point to Uh, and we’re giggling. Then: “Why is fireplace in quotations?”
Michelle quips, “It’s a place where fire happens sometimes, so– you know. Kind of the same thing.”
“I’m imagining a spot in the carpet covered in cigarette burns.”
Then I look at Missed Connections– I’m a softie, I always look at them– and there is this gem, which I call Shell in to look at IMMEDIATELY, and which she reads aloud in a perfect Can I Have Yo Number? impression:
Hello out there to the sexy ass vanilla i saw today that i was checking you out from head to toe baby and you look so ravishing and tasty today which Thursday i hope you checks out CL if you don’t i may never see you again but anyway you no hope you are you was wearing a sexy ass black dress and some nice heels on wearing sunglasses driving a red Acura the last for digits of your tag is 1397 you was at Starbucks on Davis Drive in Morrisville NC at about 2:30 pm today you come in and order something to drink to go you look so amazing and sexy as hell baby so if you out there and you read this ad get at me I’m waiting to hear from you to spoil you and treat you like a queen baby I’m waiting .
Send Michelle an email today. Subject: YOUR NEW LICENSE PLATE.
The other best moment of the trip was when we were talking a walk together. We have great moments on walks, always, but this one really got to me. We’re in a subdivision next to mine, looking for For Rent signs (none), and talking about money. Going down to one income is going to be an adjustment for them. They’ll be fine, but things will just be a little tighter. We’re comparing stories about being broke, especially early on in marriage. About how you stay up crying over bills. How sometimes you go between choosing to pay rent or electricity. How you watch every single item in your cart at the store, clip every coupon, count every penny.
And then I say, “You know, my dream– stupid, I know– but my dream was to be able to eat out at Taco Bell whenever I wanted. Because we couldn’t afford that, and I just thought… someday I’ll be able to eat Taco Bell. No big deal.”
“And have a car,” she says, and I’m like, “Yeah, the second car. That was a big one. We only had one for so long. It was so nice to be able to drive to the library whenever I wanted.” We go quiet for a minute, just walking. I say, “I used to be so jealous of those women I’d see at Target.”
I think she’s going to say she doesn’t get it, or I’m stupid, but she immediately and innately understands. “The ones with the big shopping carts full of anything they want,” Michelle replies.
BECCA: YES. Like, just throwing anything they see in.
MICHELLE: Oh, I like this throw pillow. I’ll buy it.
BECCA: Two of each color. Why not.
MICHELLE: Because they can.
BECCA: And their kids would want brand-name snacks and they could just say okay. They never had to worry about what to take out of the cart to make it work, or if they had enough in the bank, or say yes and then put it back on the shelf when the kids turned their back. It wasn’t even a consideration.
MICHELLE: And their husbands would see what they bought when they got home, and be like, Oh, new curtains? and the wife would shrug, Well, they were on sale and I just hate the old ones, so why not? and the husband would just shrug too, and that would be it. There’d be no worry. No discussion over whether the curtains had to go back.
Yes. Yes. Exactly. This just strikes such a chord in me, I can’t tell you. That private longing comes rushing back, raw and fresh, and makes me extremely grateful for where we are right now, and how good life has turned out after all the rough patches. I won’t ever take it for granted. Any of it.
There was more I wanted to say here but it’s all stories about my hair and how our AC broke, and my mom’s chemo, and my upcoming visit with Audrey– I don’t know. It’s all worth saying, but– another time, really. I’ll save it for the next entry. Today I just wanted to share this.
Michelle is going to be here. Soon. We’re going to eat a lot of great food, make a lot of terrible jokes, take long walks on beaches, spend our holidays together, and watch each other’s children grow up. Finally. This is actually happening. This adventure is beginning, and I truly couldn’t be happier.