Thursday, May 09, 2019

Wednesday

With little left to do but wait for things to fall into place, we decided to head downtown yesterday morning so that we could check out campus. Feeling somewhat tired of the congested highways, we decided to take the metro in and I'm so glad we did. It reinforced what a good decision it was to live as near as possible to the metro line as possible. Andrew will still have a commute to the metro station, but then he can hop onto the metro and bypass all the downtown craziness, which will at least make me feel better about the (what I would consider white-knuckle) commute.

At Five Point Station the doors to the train car whooshed open and we were slammed with the pungent aroma of downtown Atlanta—an unpleasant concoction of French fries, urine, tobacco and exhaust. The short walk to Andrew's building had me feeling a little bit nervous, but the building itself seems to have good security.

We had to sign in at the front desk and have the department chair vouch for us. It was nice to get to meet some of his future coworkers and see potential office space. I think it's going to be a really great, supportive environment.

We didn't stay downtown long and instead headed back to the metro—where Alexander had a blast chasing pigeons on the plaza—and then back to the hotel where we all took a long nap.

Apparently this week has been exhausting.


In the afternoon we headed up to Inman Park to visit with Puneet, who was in Andrew's cohort at Duke. She's working at Emory University right now. It was so nice to see her again! She's always so sweet with our kids and this visit was no different. She took us for a walk on the Beltway, treated us to ice cream, and then took us to a lovely park where we tried to interest Benjamin in the swings and slides but where he mostly just chased ducks (until they went and found their goose friends (chasing ducks is fine; chasing geese is less fine)).

When Puneet left to pick up her dog from daycare/training, we left to go find dinner, but Alexander fell asleep in the car so we decided to take a quick drive around our potential neighbourhood. Just to have one last look before we said for sure that we wanted to proceed (and to double check that it had a Japanese maple tree out front).

As we headed toward our potential house we saw a family out walking. Actually, there were quite a lot of people out walking, which we figured was a good sign of a vibrant neighbourhood. But this particular family looked somewhat familiar to a few family photos we'd seen inside our potential house. And as we drove by we realized that it was the family who currently owns the house.

How awkward to be driving by to look at the house while they're watching us drive by to look at the house!!

We drove past them and down to the cul-de-sac, took a peek at the house (it does have a Japanese maple in front, still looks cute; let's go), turned around and headed back out of the neighbourhood, hoping the family wouldn't recognize anything about us (they saw us leaving the second time we looked at the house).

They were still walking down the street, so Andrew turned onto an adjacent street, hoping we could evade them. But what we didn't know was that that street was also a cul-de-sac so we had no choice but to flip around and head back out. Andrew drove slowly, hoping that the family would have just walked on by without noticing us, but when we got back to the intersection the family was waiting for us and they waved us over. 

So we went over to talk to them (because what option did we have?! None!) and it turned out to be a very positive visit. Andrew told them we were just, you know, checking out that house that was for sale, and they were like, "We know. We recognized your car."

I'm sure the out-of-town plates helped with that (it's a rental, from Massachusetts).

And then they just talked about the house and how much they love the neighbourhood and how hard of a decision it was for them to move and what their future plans were. The mom mentioned how she painted over her oldest child's growth chart, which was very emotional for her, and how she hadn't gotten around to painting over the youngest child's chart (which I'd noticed). They verified that we had five (!) children and asked if we'd like the swing set (we'd love it). They asked where we were from and gushed about the neighbourhood.

We ended up being very glad we'd run into them (and probably could have avoided a whole lot of awkwardness on our part if we'd just not try to run away from them in the first place (but we can't help that we're naturally awkward people))!

I guess we didn't scare them off, either, since they accepted our offer. So now we're suddenly under contract for a house (what?!) and have our inspection tomorrow (crazy!!).

After stressing about housing for so long (I have been scouring listings since December), I'm so relieved that things are falling into place so nicely (and pray that things will keep running smoothly).

I'm trying to imagine what it might feel like to actually put down roots somewhere. How do you then measure time? Is it by marking inches on the doorframe? My reference to time is based on geography.  I remember things as happening where, not when because my when is so linked to my where. I remember watching the re-election of Obama in our living room in Durham. I remember voting for him by absentee ballot (the first time) from Egypt. Chrétien was Prime Minister when I lived in Alberta, Mulroney when I lived in PoCo. My friends are all grouped by location: British Columbia, Calgary, High River, Orem, Durham, and so forth. My babies were all born in different cities and came home to different houses—Orem, Cairo, American Fork, Durham, Provo.

I thought the five year commitment to graduate school was a big deal—five years in one place seemed like a lot. Now we're committing to the foreseeable future and I think it's going to be really good, I do, but I'm scared as well.

So it was really nice to talk to the owners, the ones who are leaving behind their tick marks on the wall and their swing set, because they gave me confidence that we made a good choice.

I never was one to pine for a fairytale wedding. I dreamt of being married one day, sure, but I never thought about what dress I wanted to wear or what kind of decorations I wanted or even what my colour scheme would be. When it came right down to it I was thrilled to be marrying Andrew (because I knew that was a good choice) but I didn't know what kind of cake I wanted or how I wanted the cultural hall decorated or even how I was going to do my hair or makeup.

So I wore my hair down. My cousin dolled up my face with what little makeup I had on hand. We picked up a bouquet from the produce section at Target and wrapped a pretty ribbon around it. My friend's mom sewed a simple dress based on a picture I showed her. I gave a friend license to do literally whatever she wanted with my wedding cake. And it ended up being a beautiful day.

I feel like I went into this house-hunting trip with about the same enthusiasm. I knew we were moving to Atlanta and had to find a house but I hadn't spent enough time dreaming about a house to even know what I wanted. Though I spent months looking at houses online I think most of my time was spent researching neighbourhoods (schools districts, commute times, and so forth). I found that if I was happy with the schools and commute (and, you know, the price), I was typically happy with the house. But I honestly couldn't tell you what I was looking for in a house.

When I saw the house we just went under contract for, though, I about swooned. It's darling.

But more than that, it seems like a great home to make memories in. And that's the part I'm dreaming about—not what kind of countertop I have or what colour the carpet is. 

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