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Posts Tagged ‘moving’

On the morning of November 10, 2012, Bart and I saw the sun rise one last time from our driveway in Erie, Colorado as we got in our cars and began the three day, 1700 mile trek to our new home in Washington, D.C. Two years used to seem like an eternity, but I still feel “new” to my job, our church, and the area in general even 24 months after our relocation. Nevertheless, a lot has happened for Bart and me since we began this new chapter in 2012.

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Believe it or not, this weekend marks one full year that we’ve been in our new house. I guess that after a year, you can’t really call a 52-year-old house new, but it still feels like yesterday since we had boxes piled high everywhere. We’ve been pretty busy this year, ripping things out, putting new things in, and making our own personal mark on our space. We’ve also accomplished a lot out of the house, from regional travel to making friends, from getting involved at church to traveling out of the country a few times. Let’s take a look back at what all our first year as homeowners in the DC area has brought us.
Home sweet home

Home sweet home

 

Not that Washington, DC is “Home” yet, but it’s our home for now. We’ve learned to appreciate the opportunities here in DC and how to deal with the crummy parts, like traffic and overcrowding. Being settled in our own house and finally having friends and being involved in a church has helped us reorient and figure out what our new chapter of life looks like. It’s ever changing still, but that keeps life interesting, right? It will be interesting to reflect on the coming year next October to see what year two in our house and year three of Washington, DC, look like.

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They say you can’t go home again, but this week I tried. I had a work meeting that took me to my old stomping grounds near Boulder. This was my first trip back to Colorado since we moved almost two years ago, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going back to a place I called home for over eight years.
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Last week, we marveled that it has already been one year since we moved to Washington, DC, but you’ll probably be as surprised as I was to realize that we’ve already been in our new house for one month.

The new house

The new house

Moving and unpacking takes a quite a bit of effort, and even though we have a couple of boxes left, mostly of decor items I’m not quite ready to put out yet, I’d say we’ve been sufficiently unpacked and settled for a couple of weeks. I’ve found that physically extracting items from boxes is one thing, but finding a new place to put it all is completely another. This is complicated by two facts about our house: 1. my kitchen is much smaller than my previous ones, and 2. we also lack closet space upstairs (we have no coat closet on the main level). This lack of storage means I’ve had to be creative, thoughtful, and intentional about stowing our stuff. However, I couldn’t just leave things in boxes until I had the energy to tackle each problem area, so I initially had to unpack everything and shove it into any space I could find. Now that I’ve lived in the house a little while and see how it flows, I’m going back through these areas and making things more efficient and useful. It’s a slow process, but fortunately I love organizing and optimizing, so I revel in it, maybe just a little more than is healthy for a normal person.

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Today marks the 1,001st day of the 101-in-1001 challenge that Bart and I started back in February of 2011. Our goal was to create a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days–just about 2.75 years–and accomplish all of them in the given time. As of today, I count that we accomplished 88 out of 101 items on our list, meaning 13 items were not completed by this date.
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Believe it or not, this week marks one year since we woke up, put our suitcases and the dog in our cars, and turned our backs on the Rocky Mountains. We arrived in Maryland exactly one year ago today, literally and figuratively in the dark. Twelve months, two states, and two houses later, I still wouldn’t say that we’re totally settled here, but being in our own house seems to have closed the chapter on a year of transition.

I don’t think I anticipated how difficult the first year here would be from a personal standpoint. I knew there would be challenges with fighting traffic, getting lost, finding grocery stores, meeting people, joining a church, and learning my job. But surprisingly, I struggled with feeling like I was wasting my time and lacking purpose in life when we didn’t have any friends or anything we were involved in and just sat around the house looking at real estate listings on the internet all the time. At times, I felt despondent, unmotivated, and a little sad. Bart reminded me that this was not a truthful way to look at this time. It wasn’t time wasted, but it was a season of rest and rejuvenation so we would be ready to begin again with those things when that time came. And, of course, he has been right about that. In due time, things like finding a house, meeting people, and getting involved have fallen into place. We aren’t completely back up to speed, but we’re accelerating in that direction, and it seems like every week we see new opportunities around us.

It never hurts to look back and see that we have actually done a lot in our first year here. You don’t often have such a period free of obligations to explore a new place and have new experiences, so we tried to take advantage of it. Looking back over the last year, here are some of the most notable things we’ve experienced:

  • Visited twelve different states along the Eastern Seaboard and New England. When was the last time I visited twelve states in one year? Probably never.
  • Now that I think about it, we should also include the seven other states we drove through when moving here, and two more we hit on a trip back home in April. That’s an incredible 42% of the United States.
  • Bought a house. This is typically not something you do every day, and given how many months it took us to find this one, it definitely isn’t an insignificant accomplishment.
  • Hosted our first dinner party. That happened this last weekend, in fact.
  • Weathered a presidential inauguration, sequestration, furloughs, shutdowns, and a gubernatorial election in a state where we missed the voter registration deadline by two days. And there have been numerous other little quirks we’ve experienced living in Federal City.
  • Had seventeen separate house guests stay with us, some multiple times. I can think of maybe 10 overnight guests that we had in Colorado the entire eight years I lived there.
  • Waited at the DMV twice. Remind me to never move states or buy a new car or anything else that requires a trip to the DMV ever again.
  • Both of us had jury duty in Montgomery County. And now we’re back at the top of the list in a new one.
  • Driven past or walked on a beach three times. Not something we could accomplish in Colorado or Arkansas.
  • Visited many monuments and museums on a whim that most people have to go on vacation to see.
  • There were also a few things we didn’t do that we expected to do, mostly because finding a house was a real time-sucker for the nicest six months of the year. But we look forward to having time to do these and more now that we’re not in the market for a home. Of course, I hear that home improvement projects take up weekends, too. Good thing we don’t have a list of dozens of things we’d like to do to the house…or something. ;p

  • Go to Gettysburg. I was 100% positive we would do this sometime in our first year, but it never happened. It’s definitely going to, though.
  • Go to Mount Vernon. Granted, we now live about ten miles from it, and we’ve heard it’s awesome during the holidays. I’m motivated to make this happen before the year is out.
  • Go to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. We almost did this on our trip to New England over the Fourth of July weekend, but we passed, opting to go during the off season this winter. We like excuses to head to upstate New York.
  • Go to New York City. We ran out of non-house hunting weekends in the summer. Depending on the weather and our travel plans around the holidays and first of the year, this might have to wait until next spring or summer.
  • Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in Shenandoah National Park. This would have been awesome to do three weeks ago, but if you recall, we bought a house three weeks ago. But I hear Shenandoah is beautiful all year round.
  • That’s a quick snapshot of our first year in Washington, DC. I guess we can’t consider ourselves “new” to the area anymore, but I still feel pretty green most of the time. But we’ve still got a lot of living to do here as long as we live here, be in a few years or the rest of our lives. I appreciate your accompanying me on this journey and hope you have enjoyed the blog so far. I intend to keep sharing our adventures with you, both with exploring the DC area and the East Coast as well as fixing up our new house. I hope you’ll continue to join me as we start Year Two in Washington!

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    As of this weekend, the Taylors have officially relocated.

    While I was at work on Friday, Bart and my parents went over to clean the new house and get it ready for moving in. I ended up leaving work a bit early to finish up some last-minute packing on the other end.

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    No matter how much you think you pack in advance, there’s always way more left at the very end than you expect. But after cooking dinner on Friday night, mom and dad washed and packed the last kitchen items while Bart and I sold our old vacuum cleaner to a couple from the area (first successful local Craigslist sale!). Then it was just a matter of packing bedding and toiletries last-minute in the morning.

    Saturday morning we got the moving truck. There was a bit of uncertainty right off the bat, as they didn’t have the larger truck we had reserved. We compromised by getting a smaller truck and making two trips (which we probably would have had to do anyway), plus the smaller truck was easier to get around. The lady at the rental place was nice about it and helped us out on the mileage charges. With the online discounts I found with our reservation and the break on mileage, our move cost just over $100. That’s amazing! We’re so thankful for that working out Providentially in a better way than we had planned.

    We had some friends from church help us with the loading and unloading, and between the six of us, we were able to make two trips and move 98% of our stuff all on Saturday. I don’t think any of us anticipated getting that far, but it’s amazing how much faster you can move with six people instead of just two. We even got settled enough that we sat down to share our first meal in the new house together: delivered pizza on real plates around our actual dining table. We’re totally indebted to my parents and to Jerry and Tracy for their help.

    Now life is totally disorganized and chaotic, but we’re slowly piecing things back together in the new place. It’s a bit trickier because the kitchen, bedrooms, and bedroom closets are a lot smaller than we’ve previously had, so it takes more thought and creativity to figure out where to put everything. The best course of action seems to be stashing things wherever we can find a place for them and slowly finding the optimal organization as we live in the house for a little while. In the meantime, as long as we can cook and I can get dressed for work, I think we’re doing pretty well.

    So, this is what our basement rec room looks like as of Day One:

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    So many boxes….but eventually Bart’s office will be set up here. He still has a couple of days off, so he should have a functional work area by then.

    We also have enough stuff unpacked in the kitchen that we were able to pick up a few groceries yesterday and cook dinner there last night. While we’ve tried to cook as much as possible instead of eating out every single meal, grabbing something convenient when your entire kitchen is packed is inevitable, and I haven’t been eating as well as I normally do.

    In addition to unpacking, we’ve already jumped into routine housekeeping activities. Namely, I’ve already swept a metric ton of leaves off the front porch and our ridiculously huge back deck. We practically live in a forest, so moving in the middle of fall is not giving us any misleading expectations about how things are going to be around here. And this photo was after I’d already swept off the other half of the deck.

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    You can barely see him, but Murphy was on the deck helping me. He was almost totally inconsolable during the move; he knew something big was up, and when we closed him in the basement of the old house to keep him from under our feet while we loaded the truck, he whined the ENTIRE time. Finally, when it was time for him to make the big move, he was so ridiculously excited. Poor little guy; he had no idea what was going on, and I’m sure part of him feared we were going to up and leave him. But of course we would never do that! He was so tired from being so wound up that he passed out in the car when I finally took him over there.

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    I think he really loves the new place. It didn’t take him long at all to seem adjusted. I wish I could take everything in stride like dogs do; moving was just no big deal to him, as long as he is with us. He particularly enjoys his new backyard; it’s large and full of little nooks and crannies to explore. We’ve also discovered that we have big dogs living on both sides of us….just awesome. :p Oh well; those dogs bark, our dog barks, everybody’s dog barks. I will just not feel bad about it. Heck, maybe Murphy can learn to be friends with them…maybe.

    So, all the Taylors are learning to adjust to their new surroundings. It’ll take a while to really get settled in, but it doesn’t take too long to get comfortable enough for normal life to pick back up. I can’t wait for the unpacking to end and the housewarming to begin.

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    Whenever life changes, I become particularly aware of the last times I experience things I did frequently before. Moving is a particularly strong motivator of these feelings, as physically relocating changes so much of what you do day to day.

    Moving week has sneaked up on me this time, and I almost forgot to pay attention to the things in my routine that I’ll do for the last time. I reminded Bart on Sunday that it was the last time we had to drive to church from Maryland; our new house will be about 15 minutes closer now and won’t involve crossing a bridge or state line. I also am counting down the days that I commute to work via my current route. My new commute will be in a completely opposite direction, and while it’s three miles longer than my current route, I should make it much faster, as it’s mostly interstate and parkway (with the big caveat that I do my commute on off-times, or else it would be hopeless with traffic). I’ll no longer head north to go home, passing not four school zones, a large traffic circle, five speed cameras, and 44 stoplights (not even joking; I counted them up). I may miss driving down 34th Street/Reno Road, as it was a surprisingly serene and calm bypass of the craziness of the District, but I will never, ever regret it if I never go through Kensington or the intersection of Connecticut Ave. and Bradley Street again in my life. Ever.

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    I usually cherish the last things I do around our home before we leave: last meal, last night sleeping there, last walk through before handing in the keys. But I feel strangely detached about our current house, lacking the usual sentimentality associated with our routine activities. I’m sure this is due to the fact that it’s a rental, though it was more tied to the fact that we knew it was going to be temporary. When we rented as a young couple before buying a house, we didn’t necessarily intend to move at the end of our lease. It turned out that way a few times, but we settled in each time and made it a home. This time, we knew we intended to buy and didn’t plan on being there any longer than we had to. In that way, I never formed the attachment of “home” with this house. It’s grown on me some over the year we’ve been there, but all of the old, annoying features of it made me long for a place to call my own.

    The sentiment I lack about leaving this house will be more than made up for by the verve with which I shall embrace the first things in the new house: first meal cooked on the gas stove, first dinner party, first DIY project, first house guests. I’ve been unsettled for nearly a year here, but just in the last two months our new chapter of life in DC is starting to form; having our own home is one of the last pieces cementing our feeling of finally belonging here.

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    Tomorrow marks the first day of summer. The summer solstice is the “longest day of the year,” meaning we have the most daylight hours relative to total hours in the day. This should be exciting, as most of us like these longer hours, but I can never ignore the fact that this also marks the slow denouement to gradually decreasing daylight hours and the eventual dreariness if winter. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like winter ended all that long ago…

    From the standpoint of a season being a time of year defined by similar weather, I’ve always thought that the beginning of seasons should really be acknowledged midway between the canonical astronomical points in the earth’s orbit around the sun (solstices and equinoxes). These days, such as we will acknowledge tomorrow for the summer solstice, actually mark a turning point or a midpoint in the earth’s yearly cycle. But as far as defining a three month period of the most homogenous weather, I would say that summer actually started midway between today and the vernal equinox in March and will end in about six weeks from now. Nobody asked my opinion, though.

    However, I believe that my feeling about seasons exhibits a very human characteristic of preferring homogenous, uniform circumstances to what ultimately boils down to change. I like to be steady state. I like a routine. I like to know exactly where I’m going and how I’m getting there. I find little need to be hasty.

    However, while we will all have those homogenous seasons, I’ve learned in the past year that life really takes its shape and definition by the turning points. I was in a very long season of life during graduate school, and I grew very accustomed to my circumstances. When I graduated last year, it was a turning point, a place where a new season was beginning. I recognized this and thought I was at peace about this fact and would stoically ride it out, but over the last year and a half I’ve realized that this transition wasn’t just one point–graduating, finding a job, moving, buying a house–but it’s an entire season itself that has lasted longer than I expected. That doesn’t mean that life isn’t good now; on the contrary, I have so much to be thankful for, and I do remember that every day. However, it’s too easy to focus on the fact that this transition time isn’t immediately resolving into a new homogeneity.

    I don’t know how long this season will last. Maybe when we buy a house and finally get settled in a permanent abode? Maybe when we join a church and get involved with relationships and projects and ministries? Maybe I will just wake up one day and realize I’m there.

    I feel like I’m always blogging about the same thing here, a general dissatisfaction with having to be patient or being in flux. But it has been one of the most obvious and expected consequences of our move, and I’m continually amazed at how long it has lasted and how it has affected me, hopefully by molding me into a better, more mature person.

    So now that it’s summer and our terrestrial trajectory has just transitioned, I’m going to embrace what life is now instead of being sad that winter will be coming again, even if its still months away. I’m going to enjoy the current warmth and sunny days instead of only being satisfied with what perceived stability the future will bring.

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