As a teenager and young adult, I would only see my Dad sporadically, maybe every year, perhaps a little more often, perhaps a little less. He was a quiet man and I can be quite shy, so I mainly remember lots of our meetings being quite awkward. I hope that the silences were companionable for him at least. I have to assume that we weren’t both frantically trying to come up with something to say.
It always seemed a little ridiculous to try and explain what had happened in the last year or so, so instead we’d do a super-quick recap and then just chit chat about current affairs and programs worth watching on TV, or what kid of music we like, or what other people were up to.
It was with a huge shock that I just realized that I last wrote here at the end of February. I intend to write on an almost daily basis, but somehow life wins out. It’s been an incredible journey to emigrate twice and settle in a new city, again. Parts of that journey make a great story, but lots of it is incredibly mundane. I’ve been putting off the “and so that is how we found a house and settled in Portland, Maine” update because it seems too big, too hard to chop into easily assimilated pieces. So instead, this is how we moved to the house we knew we’d move to, but almost didn’t.
When I last wrote, we’d been in a hotel room for 18 days… we ended up staying there for a whopping eight weeks. Having your breakfast made for you everyday is not to be sniffed at. Dealing with a baby who wasn’t sleeping through the night in a pack and play in your room, plus two school-age kids sharing a bed and fighting at night, in your room, was not so much fun. It had it’s moments, this whole experience.
We tried so hard to convince ourselves that we could become country folk by sheer willpower. That we would be fine in our solitude and a good school system. That the house in the sticks would be what we needed it to be. Turns out that when the house negotiations got tricky, we were happy to put down our chips and leave the table, without a backward glance.
And so in a funny turn of events, we ended up moving into the house that we found on Christmas Day 2013 when we were in New Zealand. We found it online, the neighborhood looked good, the back garden was enormous, and it’s actually in Portland. The house itself was difficult to figure out from the highly selective photos online. It is a single family house that was chopped up into a duplex at some point; the original staircase was half removed and a back staircase built in its place.
We tried and tried to figure out how the upstairs related to the downstairs, and we couldn’t put the pieces together in our heads. We found a realtor online who came to the house and photographed it for us. Then we looked at the photographs of random walls captioned with things like “this is where the staircase used to be”, and we were still none the wiser.
Even so, it felt like our house. It would be our house.For a while, it even looked like we could arrange everything from New Zealand, and move straight into it when we got to Portland. How easy, how marvelous.
A complete and utter miscommunication somewhere along the line (I’m letting it go, in the spirit of Frozen) meant that we stopped pursuing this house, even though the owner was open to our situation, and even though the house had huge potential. When we couldn’t find anything else in Portland we came to look at the house, our house, the one we decided to move into while still on the other side of the world.
But we weren’t feeling it. The guy living downstairs was off-putting, to put it politely, the lack of space for laundry felt wrong, the whole house just didn’t seem right. But as more and more houses seemed even less right than this one, this one rose to the top.
And so after some lengthy negotiations, in March, we moved in. The guy downstairs finally moved out three months later. “Our house” is indeed “our house”. It’s a bit weird, but it is wonderful. The top floor apartment has a kitchen and enough rooms for all the kids to have their own space. Downstairs is in need of a complete renovation, but we’ll get there at some point.
We just opened up a doorway at the bottom of the stairs so we can go upstairs and downstairs without going outside. It’s pretty exciting. Imagine how it was for the cats (oh yes, we have two cats now!) to one day discover that they had a whole new floor to explore.
We’re still unpacking, our stuff arrived from New Zealand mainly in one piece. We ‘re still finding places for everything. We still need furniture so we can put everything away. We’re still figuring it all out.
But, I’ll say this. This house is exactly what we hoped that it could be. It’s big and spacious and has heaps of potential. Yes it needs work, lots of work, but it is our home now. We’re not moving again. I was never a big proponent of the “woo-woo” way of life, but this is exactly what we hoped for. Plus there are two little girls in the house opposite, who are the exact same ages as our two bigs ones. They’re like this cool little gang. It’s perfect, it really is everything we hoped for.
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