Sunday, November 15, 2015

Nashville

 
*fasten your seatbelts, grab a cup of coffee or something because this is a long one. 
 
It was around 3:30 in the morning as I wrangled 2 large suitcases, a duffel bag and my carry on out to the car. I was excited and nervous and filled with emotions I couldn't even put a name on as my son and I headed to the airport. Fueled by a cup of coffee and running on about two hours of sleep, the excitement started to wane and panic began to set in as the car crept further and further away from that little red house I have spent the past ten years loving. The fact that it held my sleeping daughter, husband and dogs within it's walls and I was leaving it all began nauseating me. I learned at a young age how to talk myself out of a panic attack and calm myself down when I start feeling like I am losing it and those well honed skills were all that kept that car driving northbound.
We dropped off the rental car and after quickly figuring out how in the world we were each rolling our large amount of luggage to the airport terminal we jumped on the air train. It was about 4:45 in the morning at this point and Newark airport was still quiet and sleepy. An older couple jumped in our car with us. As I focused on my breathing in order to remain calm and also distract me from the air train which seemed like it was speeding wildly off into a dark abyss and most likely going to fall off the tracks, I glanced over at the couple who were sharing the car with us. The man had a tag on his shirt that said Alabama. He caught my gaze and took the opportunity to say hello. I took the opportunity to ask him the obvious. "Are you from Alabama?"
I was clearly stating the obvious considering he was wearing a tag that said Alabama, and yes, they said they were. They said they were from Huntsville but live in Birmingham and asked where we were headed. I explained how we were moving to Nashville and how I would be working in both Huntsville and Birmingham quite often. As soon as I stopped talking they started gushing about Nashville and telling us how much we would love it, how it is such a great city, a great place to raise a family and on and on and on.
What are the chances?
I know beyond a doubt that they were there, at the same time in the same train car when almost every train car was completely empty to remind me why I was changing my entire life as I know it. And they did. My heart stopped pounding so hard, my nausea started to pass and I knew it was all going to be ok. As we struggled to get all of our luggage into the terminal I told my son that I have never been so certain of something being so divinely orchestrated. It was what I needed to keep me going.
As if that wasn't enough, as I took my seat on the plane next to a young mother and her adorable little girl, the girl smiled brightly at me. My heart started to hurt because I knew my own little girl was about to be 900 miles away from me for the next couple of weeks. Just as the fear and doubt began to boil up again she leaned around her mother and asked, "Are you going to Nashville?" I told her I was. I told her that I was moving to Nashville that very day and asked her if she thought I would like it there. She nodded and smiled proudly as she told me "I've lived in Nashville my whole life."  Our little talk opened up conversation between her mother and I. We chatted during the quick flight about Nashville and where the best schools were, the nicest towns to raise a family in etc.
Another affirmation that I was headed in the right direction.
 
 
I had the relocation company book these ridiculously early flights because it was Sunday and I needed to start work the next day. I wanted the whole day to settle in, buy some food etc. get situated in our temporary housing arrangement. We arrived in Nashville at 6:45 am and by the time we once again wrangled all that luggage to the rental car, loaded it up and hit the interstate it was nearing 7:30. I asked my son to pull out the information I had printed from the relo company about our housing and as he read the sheet that I had only skimmed for the important parts he shared a bit of information I had missed in my skimming.
Rental apartment will not be available until 4pm.
Wait, what?!?!?!
How the hell I missed that part is beyond me. Idiot. It wasn't even 8 am, I was already exhausted from the lack of sleep and the bevvy of emotions and was not prepared for this bit of news. I took a deep breath and as my mind raced with what the frig are we going to do all day long????
As I exhaled that deep breath I knew exactly what I was going to do. I had created a whole Pinterest board of home listings I was interested hadn't I? Why not do a drive by on them all? It would help narrow down where we should actually spend our time looking at homes. Genius!
I like to think I always perform best under pressure.
I put the address of my favorite listing in Columbia TN into the GPS and off we went.
 

The drive to Columbia down Interstate 65 was absolutely beautiful. My heart filled with so much joy as we wound through mountains cloaked in early morning fog. Breathtaking. THIS is the Tennessee I knew I would find. My son was dozing off in the passenger seat missing all of the beauty around us so I kept slapping him on the leg to wake him. He would take a half ass look around, agree with me, then close his eyes again. I told him he was a terrible co pilot and he could clearly care less what I thought. 21 year old boys, er, men, can be so exasperating.
Shortly after we exited the interstate I saw the gates at the entrance of the property. Situated on over 7 acres, the house was unfortunately not visible from the road. Boo! Undeterred, I drove down the road a bit and as I went to turn around I noticed the street I was using for my U-turn was a name I recognized.
Wait!
There's another listing on this street! I easily spotted the house because it was the biggest, most elaborate home on a street of what can only be described as tiny, identical nondescript red brick ranches. My son commented on how gorgeous the house was but my heart had already sunk because there was no way that house is worth that price on that street. Yes, the house on any other street would be a great buy for the money but not on that block.
Geez.
A little disappointed but still determined to press on, we swung back and I noticed on the main road another listing I had pinned to my left. It was a newer build sitting right on this busy road wedged between two not so newer or as nice homes. Oh boy. We put in the address of my next favorite listing in town and off we went. As we inched up to it, the house looked every bit as fabulous as I thought it would but for a home on almost 10 acres, it was right on the road. With another row of identical red brick ranches literally directly behind it. As in hardly any backyard: the property went deep length wise with no width. Well, cross that one off the list.
Since Columbia was not panning out to be the what I thought it would be I popped the address of my favorite renovated farmhouse into the GPS and swung back onto the interstate. A cool 45 minute drive to my dream house would be nothing. This one was definitely the one for us.
Reality swiftly set in as I exited the highway and started winding through country roads that were seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Mr. Helpful was now awake and clearly panicked at the rural setting we were driving through. I was too. I was beginning to realize something that had not dawned on me until now:
Rural in Tennessee is not anything near what we consider rural in New Jersey.
Not even close.
 And while I can share listings in these rural towns that I am viewing on my computer from my overpopulated East Coast suburb and find it sweet and charming that the town may have 90,000 less residents than where we have spent our whole lives living, the reality is that we may not be equipped to make such a drastic change in our lifestyle. It seemed ok that some of these towns are so small that they don't even have their own school system but when I saw that they don't even have a grocery store or any other obvious form of convenience or commerce it was shocking.
Dreaming is amazing until the cold, hand of reality slaps you hard across the face and leaves it's sting behind.
The tears started flowing and there was nothing I could do to stop them.
 


It was only creeping up on lunch time and we decided to drive to the town where I was setting up my office and my son's job had transferred him to. We arrived to find that the mall he would be working in didn't even open until noon. That was also surprising. We plugged in an address in that town of a charming river front cape that had looked promising but as we drove by and saw how and where it was situated I knew immediately it wasn't for us. Cute house, terrible location. By now my heart hurt so badly for my daughter and husband who were so far away from us and to see these dreams I had slipping through my fingers I started panicking with the realization that I had may have just made the biggest mistake of my life.
While he may not be the best co pilot (as also proven here) my son proved to be a great comforter and kept assuring me that it was all going to be ok. He reminded me that we had only been here a few hours, I was overtired and emotional anyway and that he didn't think I had made a bad choice in relocating us.
And then we went to the mall where he would be working.
It was now open and I could see the sheer disappointment in his face as we walked around. The place was nearly desolate. Abandoned store fronts, C grade retailers, it was nowhere near where he had been working back home. I was floored. He was devastated. He went into the store and introduced himself to his new coworkers and the only upside was that they were super nice. But this is Tennessee and people are nice pretty much everywhere so that was the only part we didn't find shocking. His new boss had told him that this store did more volume than the store he worked in in NJ and the only way that was possible was because there are no other stores there to compete with.
I mustered up my strength and convinced him to at least give it a try, maybe it would be better than it seemed. I mean, his co workers seemed really great on first impression. He was silent. I was trying not to throw up and said screw it, we were going to the apartment early. We needed to settle in and relax. Besides, what was the worst they could do to us for showing up ahead of time?
It was another 45 minute drive to where we would be living and the ride was possibly quieter than it had been when he was sleeping earlier that morning. By the time we arrived, unloaded the car, put our stuff where it needed to go, I sat down on the floor and called my husband. As soon as I heard his voice I completely lost my shit.
Through my sobs I told him I think I had just messed up our whole lives, my career and made the biggest mistake ever. This was not going to work out like I thought it was and I wasn't really sure what to do about it. Surely my new boss was going to hate my guts and after some of the expenses the company had already incurred getting us here and someone new already in place to take my old position I would probably just have to quit. Holy shit. I fucked everything up. Royally.
I single handedly may have destroyed our lives and all we had worked for up to that point.
How could I have been so stupid?
 

 
Fortunately my husband had his faculties about him and talked me off the ledge. He reminded me that when we flew out to Nashville for the whole 48 hours we spent there weeks before we had said to each other that we needed to dial back on the rural thing because it had a different definition here. He also reminded me that I had not had much sleep, was traumatized leaving my family and needed to eat. He suggested we clean up and get ready to go to the restaurant I had made dinner reservations at in downtown Franklin and enjoy our meal. We had dinner there last time we were here and it was amazing. I had been eager to bring my son there. His calmness and faith in me helped me pull myself together and head out to dinner.
As we drove into downtown Franklin my heart started to swell again as I looked around me at this adorable place that I fell head over heels for when I first came here. Dinner at Puckett's was delicious just as I knew it would be and the amazing cocktail I had with it did wonders for my nerves. The Tennessee that stole my heart was all around me. I started to feel like it might be ok after all.
 

 
Fast forward just over a month now and we've come a long way. My son gave the job a shot but after the first two weeks he decided it was not for him. There was one night he worked where he saw 1 customer in the last 3 hours the store was open! Poor kid was bored out of his mind.
 Me?
 I, on the other hand actually like my job more here in Tennessee. I have had a love/hate relationship with it for the past few years and haven't had one morning here that I didn't want to go to work. I can confidently say that I know more than ever that I am in the right place. Not every day has been filled with so much assurance and there have been many more tears shed here and there. Our house still has not sold and ironically there is no house here that I am ready to plunk my money down on yet. Anything I would select today (within our budget - out of the budget is a whole other story!) would be pure compromise and far from the dream I had for us. I have looked at traditional homes in suburban neighborhoods and keep coming back to what we have wanted from the start. It is, however, getting old having our family apart and I am feeling a little panicked that the holidays are creeping closer. I have no clue how we are going to navigate all of that and a quick trip home over Halloween weekend made it even harder to leave them again without any time frame as to when we will all be together, but I can tell you this:
There is no way I could  imagine ever moving back to NJ now.
 

 
I have been able to narrow the search down to exactly where I really want to find a house and am just fine with waiting until the right house in this area comes on the market. Surprisingly, it is in the rural section of the town too that I love the most. We can make our dreams of having land come true in a setting that will not be a culture shock to our family. The more time I spend there on the weekends the more determined I am to live there.
Weekends have been spent going to community events like pop up markets and exploring my new home. There is so much to offer here. There are moments when I have been sure my heart might just explode in my chest because I love it here so much. I look around me at how beautiful it is here and what a refreshing change from life in NJ and feel so grateful for the opportunity to start a new life here.
The road is still a bit windy and not all the details are not worked out but I can rest in knowing that God has a good plan for us. I mean, we thought we would move to eastern TN and had never dreamed of coming as far west as Nashville. Now I can see how perfect Nashville is for us. I know his timing is perfect and have to remind myself of that in the trying moments. But I do know that this too shall pass and those dreams we have long been dreaming are really going to come true.
I'm home y'all.
 


8 comments:

  1. omgosh what a road you have been on. how brave you are! reading the whole story i kept thinking God has a plan for her...and he does! it will all come together just as it is supposed to right?! you inspire me to keep my own faith in God. xoxo

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    1. Janet,
      Thank you! I know it too but it is hard sometimes to remember in the day to day. It's really given me pause for thought about what's most important and what really isn't. And if nothing else, maybe I needed these reminders? :) xoxo

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  2. I think I need a cocktail now too. Oh wait! I have one.
    Oh my god I'm stressed for you but am so happy how this unfolded. I can't imagine the pressure and stress of this move, let alone the pressure and stress of having your family apart for the time being. It all looks SO beautiful! I've never been to Tennessee. Maybe Janet and I can come help you with your house when it's been found :) let's face it, there is a lot more to do in Nashville than Ohio. I've been thinking so much about you and keep hoping there's been a development. It'll come. Sending all my best!

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    1. Stephen,
      Ironically, I haven't had a sip of alcohol since Halloween weekend! So feel free to knock them back for me. Too much of the good stuff and I might end up a sobbing, emotional wreck. ;)
      It is simply gorgeous here. I am thankful for the chance to make a new life in such a place it has just proven to be more complicated with all of these moving parts than I thought.
      My husband and I decided this weekend that he will drive out with daughter and dogs on Wednesday to be here for Thanksgiving. I am making him pack up my turkey transferware and grab a shoebox of vintage silver flatware I have been hoarding in the attic and bring that too. I debated ordering a take out Thanksgiving from Cracker Barrel (someone told me you can actually do that) but my daughter was horrified and already rattled off our traditional dishes that she expects on the table. Since being together is definitely a cause for celebration, what the hell? I might as well go all out. Limited apartment kitchen or not! I can always have my husband bring some additional kitchen gear with him too.
      Oh, and we decided that my daughter and the little pup are just going to remain here with me now. Another cause for celebration! :)
      Now I'm ready for that cocktail....

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    2. Oh, and YES! You and Janet are both welcome to come when I find our house!
      That would be the best of both worlds - Janet would bring the calm and serenity and you would add the polish and shine. I couldn't imagine anything better! xoxo

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  3. You are so brave. I cannot imagine picking up and moving to a new state. It looks beautiful and I am glad you are happy.

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  4. Oh my goodness, what an emotional roller coaster you have been on! Thank you for sharing your story! I know exactly how you feel thought. Moving last year out of Denver to little old Billings, MT has been a tough transition with frequent panic moments. And I happened to be 8 months pregnant at the time! I would say that little fact made us pick a house probably a bit too early. After a year in our current home we kind of wish we hadn't of jumped the gun so fast. So kudos to you for waiting for the right house. Seriously, it's the best thing to do, even thought it's hard with the holidays approaching.

    Good luck lady, I'll be excited to here about how it all ends up!

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