Home is where we are…

It has been a while since we moved into our new home.  We are fully settled in; we know the neighborhood; we know the quirks of the house and backyard; we are used to the sounds we hear; we watch the birds come and go from the feeders, their numbers slowly dwindling as the season progresses.

J is happy.

In the meantime, lots has happened.  My mother passed away, our island was badly battered by a hurricane, we have loved ones and acquaintances we have not yet heard of, and we are doing our best to help, even at this distance.  We have made friends, and we have met our neighbors.  We have found a place for everything, and put everything in its place.  We have acquired paint chips, and will be painting things here and there…

J is happy.

Life, as you can see, keeps happening around us and away from us, and we experience it in the ways that are available to us.  My mother’s passing was not a surprise; she had been declining for a very long time, and this last illness was brief.  I hope she is at peace, but the concern lurks that, with things as they are in Puerto Rico, her cremation might not have happened yet.  This is waking me up at night as I wonder how long they can reasonably keep bodies in the morgues of an island that is so sorely in need of repairs to its power grid.

My mother and I were not close.  I don’t think we were meant to be.  I never quite understood her, but I did learn from her.  I learned what I wanted for my children, and what I would like to do to make sure they had it.  Grief is a strange creature as a rule, but this time it is wearing so many layers of strangeness that I find myself struggling with it some days…  I keep going back to Sting’s 1991 song Why Should I Cry for You? and that line that goes: “mountains of endless falling for all my days remaining.”  It does feel like that…I am mourning a person I didn’t really know in the context that I should have, and she is -in many ways- the greatest cypher in my life.  J comes a close second, but J seems to want to get closer…sometimes.

On that note: we recently watched The A Word.  It was heart-wrenching at times.   I found myself sobbing at very small moments that wouldn’t quite hit the average viewer who doesn’t have a J in their life.  I am a fan of Lee Ingleby, and I was expecting to like the show, but we were truly moved by the portrayal of a family coping (and occasionally failing) with a diagnosis of Autism.  If you have a chance (and Amazon Prime) do watch it…

As for the island…the poor island.  I have been making sure that I remind everyone, far and wide, that yes, we are U.S. citizens, and yes, we have a massive debt…but that the debt was generated and accrued by the government.  The people that are sitting in the dark, waiting for help, risking massive outbreaks of gastrointestinal viruses and other illnesses that will spread like wildfire under the conditions prevailing…those people need help.

I don’t know if Amazon has a fund.  I don’t know if you’re into charitable giving.  I don’t know if mercy is a thing when it’s not for a third-world country…but these people need charitable giving, and they need mercy now.

There are areas of the island that are still pretty much isolated from the rest of the world due to the damage sustained there.  There are areas that will never truly recover.  Puerto Rico is, as I know it, Paradise, but as it is now…well, it will take a long time for people there to go back to “how it used to be”, and -sadly- how it used to be a few days before Irma skirted the island (a miracle!  Saved again by Yokahu!!!!) and then Maria slammed it…that wasn’t so great, at least not for a while.

So if you are into humanitarian endeavors: people down there will be very grateful in the middle of their bone-deep emotional shock if you give a little, or a lot.  I’ve been a post-hurricane island-dweller with two small children, no water, no electricity, no food…and it was horrible, and that is one of the reasons I left the island.  My heart, however, flies back often, and I’m doing my best (fractured though it is) to help in any way I can…

That’s it…try to help if you can, and if you can’t but you’re still inclined to help…pray.

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We emerge on the other side of the move…sort of unscathed…

In case I haven’t said this fervently, convincingly, emphatically enough before: NEVER MOVING AGAIN.  Ever.  Under any circumstances.  Regardless of how much money I’m offered.  We have the very firm intention (so firm it’s actually inflexible) of being like Mr. Fredericksen in Up.  Build around us…we’re not moving.

First: it would kill us.  We’re too old for this crap.  Seriously.  We are tired, sore, achy, fatigued, exhausted, exasperated, irritated…happy to have bought this house…madly in love with it…but NEVER MOVING AGAIN.

I would relate to you the saga that has been moving from Morgantown, WV to Raleigh, NC, but I feel you would think I’m hyperbolizing for dramatic effect.  Suffice it to say that we closed on the house on a Tuesday, and our belongings didn’t arrive until the following Monday.  This, sadly, after we’d been told they’d be here on the Saturday at the latest…and then on the Sunday…and, finally, on the Monday.  That our moving boxes were sitting in a warehouse in Pennsylvania since the second of August is beside the point (no, it’s not), or that they were apparently transferred (without much attempt at delicacy) from one truck to another is also beside the point (to quote Brick Heck from The Middle…”I’m lying”).  What is very much to the point is that our move salesman and our move coordinator had said (and they deny it with such vehemence that it’s breathtaking to think neither has ever been nominated for a major acting award) that our things would be here between the 9th and the 12th, and that it was likely that we would see them in the early portion of the delivery window.  Since this was a verbal estimate we can’t prove it was said (if an estimate is made in the forest, and there’s no one there but the person who needs their stuff delivered…was it estimated at all????).  So after calling us, basically, liars and having no reasonable explanation for why our move was not scheduled on the Friday after it was picked up (this didn’t get scheduled until the Friday AFTER it was picked up) we were pretty much ready to be done…

We are done.  We have unpacked everything.  We have disposed of the broken items (which, by the way, we would have had to KEEP until they sent an adjuster to verify that our claims -“we regret that you have broken items YOU associate with your move”- were legit), removed the boxes to the recycling center, and the fat lady is ready to sing her swan song by hanging pictures on walls, and calling this last (and most monumental) of moves DONE…officially and unequivocally.

Because we didn’t get our stuff when promised (did you know that you basically get a $100 discount for each day the move is late?  That’s it…$100!), we had to go out and buy air mattresses (our backs will never be the same), towels, sheets, some pots and pans (because we were -and this will sound totally crazy- SICK of eating out…never mind how costly it was), and other items that ensured our sanity in light of being in an empty house with good ol’ J.

J.  Darling, patient, adaptable J.  J who loves Target and yet was utterly sick of going there to get yet another thing we needed to “rough it” in the empty house.  J who met his new psych with a big smile on his face, and hasn’t asked for Five Guys yet.  J who has the two most comfortable, set-up in style, “this room is done” rooms in the entire house.  Bless his sweet heart, and his willingness to put up with all this madness.

Now that the garage has ceased to look like a cardboard jungle, J can go back to his exercise routine.  He has a new treadmill.  He is waiting for his Wii and his TV to be set up so he can “run”…he has seen more dragonflies in the garden than he’s comfortable with, but every day he tries a little harder to sit out there and experience the glory that is his new, fenced, landscaped backyard.  J has been a champ.  J has smiled a little more widely and a little more brightly with each passing day as the boxes start revealing his things emerging from their storage.  J has helped load the recyclables in the truck we rented, and giggled with joy as he sees the garage becoming a garage once more.

We put his new peel-and-stick tree in his new bathroom.  We put glow-in-the-dark stars on his bedroom walls, and his bevy of pin-up girls is present and in full force.  He has his lava lamp, his fairy lights, his butterflies, and a view of the garden that is pleasant and relaxing.  J is very much at home…

We sit around the dinner table and look out the window at the birds that visit the feeders; we go outside to feed the fish in the pond; we take the trash out to the curb, and J is in charge of checking the mail.  A short walk, but a happy one…just a few yards down the driveway and I can see him smiling all the way there and back.  He has also learned that he puts the flag up if we are sending mail out…

Our expeditions to learn about town have been fun.  We’ve found a grocery store we love, a shopping center where they have all the stores J likes to frequent, and a donut shop that is a huge treat because their donuts are simple and ridiculously delicious.

Tomorrow we will sally forth to the DMV to get our IDs, licenses, car registration.  On Saturday we hope to work in the yard.

We are settling in…

We are hanging pictures…

We are NEVER MOVING AGAIN…EVER…

We are at the “bare walls” stage…

We have been in a packing frenzy.  Our walls are bare (for the most part…I’d say there are four things we need to address to be completely naked in that department), and our cupboards are starting to look like it’s time to buy plastic cups.  There are more things in boxes than there are out of boxes…

J is enjoying the process.  This is surprising.  The only thing he has objected to is seeing his TV room throw pillows put in a box.  His train/Lego village is disassembled, and only the Legos remain on shelves waiting to be packed.

We are well on our way to being done.  We are also exhausted, achy, and ready for this to be over.  We have pared down to the things we really want and need.  We have made sure that TGG and his family get all the other stuff that no longer fits our three-person household.  I’ve packed and sorted through all of TGG’s childhood photos and given them to his wife.  I know he probably thinks we’re erasing him (we’re not…there are so many mementos of TGG, photos, school projects…all over the place), but the fact is that I have very few pictures and things from my childhood, and I’ve always wished I had them around.  Once in a while a relative or classmate would post old photos on Facebook, and I would copy them so I could show my beloved Dada “look, that’s me when I was a kid.”  Dada has an unending stream of family photos that chronicle his life from then to now, and I have snippets here and there.  I want TGG to be able to show “hey, this was me…and this was me with so-and-so, and when I went here, or there…”

I have copies of everything.  He is in multiple frames, on shelves, boards…he’s everywhere.  I want his kids to see that he had a life before them, and that his parents were proud and happy to document it.

So we are slowly reaching the end of the preparation to move on…and we are ready to move on.  There isn’t any bittersweetness…it’s all sweet.  We are looking forward to it all.  J is too…he is happy.  He is enthused.  He is excited.  He won’t yet relinquish his pillows, but he will by next Tuesday.  It’ll all be good by then.

Just a little more Tiger Balm, a little more Tylenol Arthritis, and we’ll be golden…

 

There MUST be an end to the packing…

Right?????

It feels like we have been packing for weeks, and we have made something of a dent on the many things we have to pack, but…

Why is it that it never seems like one owns THAT MUCH STUFF until one has to pack THAT MUCH STUFF???

I tried the Higitus Figitus…it looked NOTHING like this:

It looked more like this: images

We’ll figure it out…I think.  We have to…basically.  J is happy in the TV room watching the pile of boxes with red tape (his TV room’s assigned color) growing with each passing day.

As for us, well, we are almost on a first-name basis with the good people at the local Lowe’s.  “Still packing????”  “Whatcha packing now???”  “Aren’t you guys done yet????”

The house no longer looks like home.  It looks like it was, and it’s slowly being dismantled to be conveyed elsewhere.

And that’s fine…

And it’s good…

And we’re excited…

And feel harried…

And it’s going to be alright…

Right?

🙂

It’s almost like that last scene in Raiders here…

We are pretty sure that the boxes are humming at us.  Not just ONE box…all of them.  Either that, or we have this ringing in our ears that is interfering with everything.  It comes from the house slowly being disassembled, packed, and lined up for the movers to take away.

We are currently at the stage where we pack, and discover we’ve left a mess in our wake.  From that we gather those things that are still viable for packing, and then we are left with all sorts of flotsam and jetsam that is, basically, of the “what IS this?  Why do we HAVE this?  Oh, this was from THIS, and we don’t have that anymore!” variety.

The one good thing about moving is that you discover that there are things you no longer need, want, care about, have a use for, and you send them along to a more productive life elsewhere, or you discard those things that cannot possibly be of any use because they are broken, spent, outdated…

The moving company we decided to go with came today for the estimate.  (Long story short, the other company dithered to the degree where the dates got really murky, and we cannot do murky.)  The bulk of our move is books, and J’s stuff.  He has calmly and happily allowed me to cull some of his belongings to pass on to his nephews and nieces, and that is lightening the load somewhat, but there remains the question (not a trivial one either) of how to pack up all the train tracks, the Legos that go in his village, and all the “vegetation” that grows in the wilderness bordering the village.  The balls from the ball pit have been taken care of, and his craft closet is almost entirely packed.  There remain the boxes of extra Lego pieces sorted by color, and -because Wednesdays are Lego Days – those will remain as they are until the day before the movers come.

J’s room will be the last thing packed and loaded on the truck, and he is seeing the house slowly being disassembled but feels safe in his cocoon because we remind him every single day that he will “lose” his stuff last, and “get it back” first.

All the administrative layers of complexity involved in this relocation are being addressed in stages.  The utilities will be last, of course, because the house is still being occupied by the seller.  The first appointment with a new psychiatrist has been scheduled, and I’ve had a conversation with the court regarding transferring guardianship from one state to another.

And therein is the sticking point, my friends…

I have read the laws regarding guardianship in our state, and I’ve contacted the court.  I’ve contacted the court in our new location, and they’ve told me how the process works.  The problem is that our current state doesn’t have provisions for transferring the guardianship even though there is reciprocity between this state and the one we’re moving to…you read right: the law say nothing about transferring guardianship between states.  There are no forms, no lists, no contacts, no FAQ, nothing.  Tomorrow I am calling the court in our soon-to-be new state and asking them about the viability of starting the process all over again from scratch over there.

SO…word to the wise, if you’re planning on relocating across state lines, don’t just take “reciprocity” at face value.  Dig a little deeper, and try to figure out how the issue works in one state and another.  For all intents and purposes, our current state seems to operate under the premise that a family who has guardianship of a disabled adult will never want to leave here…

Yeah…

That’s the scoop for this evening.  Now I’m off to make tomorrow’s to-do list, fill out some paper for the new psych, and ponder the alternatives we have for dealing with this guardianship transfer issue…

 

Notes from a house not-yet-full-to-the-brim with boxes…

We went on our trip, and we bought a house.  Yes.  You read right.  We found a house we love, we saw there was competition (and we can’t blame the worthy opponents because it’s a WONDERFUL house), and we threw all caution to the wind and our hat into the ring.  J is ecstatic.  Dada is ecstatic.  I am packing…ecstatically.

Things are moving rather fast.  We close on the second week of August, and the movers are supposed to come on the first week of August.  While dealing with all the transactions pertaining to purchasing a home (which we’d never done and, let’s face it, it strikes us as a Tolstoy-based process), we’ve also been trying to figure out how to pack our lives in an efficient and organized manner.  I will now give you a moment to laugh at our naïveté…

……….

Done?  Good.

So our books are boxed up…all 2000-plus of them.  I’ve decided, in my infinite wisdom (naïveté), to color-code the move.  That is: each area of the house has been assigned a color, and the boxes, packages, furniture, etc. are being labeled with said colors…  I will now give you another moment to laugh…

………

Done?  Good.

I have high hopes (no laughing while I’m telling you stuff…save it for the breaks) that this will make matters easier, but I am leaving plenty of room for error.  I have pasted samples of each color (in each of the materials being used) to small poster boards we’re going to put in the doorway leading to each area in the house.  I have made a quick reference list for the movers, for us, and for any person that comes into the house and accidentally stands next to a box and a roll of tape with a “helpful” look on their face.

Things are going more slowly than I had anticipated.  Well, no…that’s not exactly true.  Things are going as slowly as they go when you’re past the age of fifty, your joints hurt, you have galloping anemia, and you own over 2000 books.  That I somehow managed to create for myself, in the midst of a very romantic viewing of a house we fell in love with (I swear to you, I could hear Bach’s cello concertos playing in my mind, and I could smell fresh brewed coffee and fresh home-made bread), that I was the animated equivalent of Bewitched’s Samantha Stephens in that crossover episode where she and Darrin move next door to The Flintstones…  Or that I was like Merlin in The Sword in the Stone, and by singing “Higitus Figitus” our stuff would be reduced in size and packed away neatly in ONE CONTAINER.

Obviously, none of that is happening.  We have to do this ourselves, and it is backbreaking work.  It is worth it.  The house is worth it.  J’s joy at knowing he can choose a bedroom, and there is a bonus room for him (that is, pardon my French, totally KICKASS!!!!) is a sight to behold.  The boxes are not causing anxiety, and he stops to look at the pictures we put on a USB (for motivation, people…this is why we’re moving…this is why we’ve made a mess in my otherwise usually neat home) when they are on the TV screen upstairs.  The backyard is gorgeous, and big, and there is a perfect spot where we will be putting J’s new swing chair when we get there.  And there is a koi pond…which we’re sure will be a foot bath for J until he realizes that the koi will approach his feet…

So…there you go…

Naïve?  Yes.  Excited?  Yes.  Exhausted?  Indubitably.  Overworked?  Uh-huh!  With a load of things still to get done before the movers come????  YOU BETCHA!

But it’s all good.  J will be happy in his new house.  J will have space, and a fenced backyard with NO DOGS TO TAUNT HIM!!!  How awesome is that????

 

 

 

 

Relocation and transition blues…all sorts of hues…

You know those moments when the future looks bright and you’re really enthused about what’s coming?  Yeah…we’re past that…

Dada has been home for a month, and we have learned a lot about tweaking J’s schedule around that.  At first he was confused, then he was annoyed, and now he’s taking it for granted that Dada will ALWAYS be home…so we have to work on conditioning him in the opposite direction.

We have had good days, bad days, and days we’d rather not talk about, but J has figured out that he likes Dada’s company.  He also has figured out that he doesn’t mind that Dada and I are both at home at the same time, but he’s not thrilled about us spending too much time just the two of us together.

So we’ve had to insert family activities into everything.  We’re watching a movie…INTERMISSION!  Time for a craft with J.  We’re reading on the couch together…INTERMISSION!  Time for a puzzle with J.  We are about to have a cup of coffee while chatting on the balcony…INTERMISSION!  Time for a chore with J.  If we get too involved with each other J observes us closely…if it goes on for too long, J interferes.

We are often reminded of the fact that J is the third occupant of a home that harbors a couple.  He is also the only young person in the household, and that, my friends, is a slippery slope right there.  His hours and our hours don’t match.  He is up early, and he goes to bed late…  He is ready and rarin’ to go…we are ready for a nap.  He wants to bounce and jump, and we are ready for our glucosamine and some Tiger Balm.

Bette Davis once said “old age ain’t no place for sissies”.  She wasn’t lying.  That is not to say that we are old (we sort of are, and progressing quickly), or that we are not sissies.  We are learning to be less sissy-like as we get more old-like; J has yet to figure out that we can’t keep up with him, even as he helps me get up from the floor when I’ve made the mistake of sitting there crosslegged, or when we groan as we sit up in bed when he comes to wake us just as the sun is rising…

We are alive, well, and a little less rosy-eyed than we were at the end of May.  We are also more ready to move, and looking forward to the next stage of our life as a family.  On Thursday, with a little luck, we’ll be touring two houses we’re interested in, and on Friday, with a lot of luck, Dada’s job interview will be successful and we will have a more solid footing to stand on when we move.

So…time to pack the puzzles, the crayons, the Legos, the story books, the suits and ties, the comfy walking shoes, and all the other accouterments required by this expedition.

I will update you from the road (and I’ve been remiss, I know I know I know).  We are reducing our footprint by about a thousand square feet.  How’s that for downsizing?