In the Great Move of December 2012, we only had about six weeks between my acceptance of and my first day at a new job in Arkansas. In that time, we had to pack all of our belongings—with Lara doing 90% of it because I’m either “meticulous” or “slow,” take your pick—hire cross-country movers, and find a place to live in a city nearly 600 miles away. I even had to leave Lara with the twins for ten days because she needed to stay at her job in Chicago to ensure the twins still had health insurance (fortunately, her mom came into to town to pinch-hit).
Then I had to fly back from Arkansas to help with the whirlwind of final preparation. We had to supervise the movers loading the truck, jam everything that was left into our car in some hellish version of Tetris, bid a tearful farewell to friends and the world’s best nanny, drive 12 hours with a pair of two year-olds and a sedated cat, roll into town in the wee hours, and then supervise the movers loading everything into the new place. The day after that I went back to work, and Lara began assembling some sense of normalcy in this new house while our kids sprinted around her screaming and marveling at the excitement of it all.
So you would think that having to move again, six months later, across town and not across states, would be a breeze compared to that madness.
You would think.
The difference was that this time we not only had to find a place to live, we had to buy it. We had lucked into an amazing rental house with an equally amazing rent for our first place in Fayetteville. The catch was that it was a six month lease because the owner wanted to put it back on the market to sell in May. However, she had said we could go month-to-month from that point on until she found a buyer. We knew she had been trying to sell for a long time and that she didn’t plan to show it to anyone until the lease was over, so we knew we had some time to find a more permanent home.
Until a buyer approached her unexpectedly for a showing in February, after which she promptly sold the house. Suddenly, the six month lease was no longer a mere suggestion, a comfortably hazy designation; it was a hard and fast deadline. Very fast.
In our naivety, we had decided that we would rent for a while and then size up the housing market at our leisure. We knew we wouldn’t find a deal like the one we had enjoyed with this first house, but we figured we would find something comparable. We were wrong. The market in Fayetteville is a vastly different landscape than the one in Chicago. Only folks making serious bank could afford a sizable house in the Windy City; in Fayetteville, it makes little sense to rent a house when you could buy one for less monthly expense.
Suddenly, we were driving around town at every available opportunity, looking for telltale shingles planted in front yards, with shell-shocked expressions on our faces. Lara was researching online so much that her mouse wore grooves into her hands. I made the mistake of filling out a Lending Tree profile and was immediately inundated with phone calls and emails from mortgage bankers and brokers. This was a huge decision, one that we had talked about in the abstract but had not prepared for in an imminent reality.
We closed on a house we were quite fond of at the end of April, immediately before the sharp increase in mortgage rates began in May. Some might think that we just lucked out again, but I know that it was a reward for the stress and turmoil the previous two months had brought.
Anyone who has ever bought a house knows that it’s not the romp that appears to be on television. You know, where the couple steps out of their car on a clear, sunny morning to be greeted by the house of their dreams, the wife says “I love it” and kisses her husband who beams, and they move in the next day with such joie de vivre that they must own nothing but Styrofoam peanuts.
I won’t bore you with the harrowing details of our housing quest, but, by God, we earned that lower mortgage rate.
It’s been a little over two months since we moved in, and I feel like I’m just recovering from it now. I’m finally motivated to return to the keyboard and cast my loving, fatherly gaze on Jack and Emme once more. But what I see surprises me, especially when I read over the last few entries. They have changed so much in such a short amount of time, going from well-established behavior to seemingly instant breakthroughs. I’m sure you eventually get used to this parental whiplash, but for now, it feels like this.
As we enter a new era for the twins, only one thing is certain: I’m not moving again for at least a decade.