One year ago this week, my home for sixteen years was wrapped up, boxed, bagged, and loaded into a moving van to head half way across the country—back to my childhood home of Texas. It was to be our homecoming. Our empty nest years to enjoy each other in a fun and vibrant city setting—a big change for this country girl married to the traveling boy with Kentucky farm roots. A change we were more than ready to explore.
This move has been the move that keeps on giving…and giving…and giving…until it hurts. Until it hurts beyond all proportions of what should have been the actual stress involved in this kind of move. The pain it has caused has been interminable. The stress of continual workers in and out of a house that should have been finished months ago continues ad nauseam.
The move that should have been a welcoming embrace to everything new and exciting has become a nightmare into the reality that is home building in today’s world of dwindling craftsmen. I could take this written thought in many different directions: the dying art of skilled tradesmen; the ineptitude and apathy of the average worker today; the callousness of corporations unable and/or unwilling to adequately meet the needs of the customer; a housing industry that has lost sight of the basic goal of building solid homes for the homebuyer; the high cost of not doing your work right the first time (or three) you attempt it.
While these are all very worthy topics of conversation—topics which really should be discussed at length, if we ever want to get a sense of “pride in workmanship and a job well done” back in our world today—but these are not the topics I wish to address today.
This is my one-year anniversary to my move “back home,” and the name of my blog, as well as my nom de plume for these past nine years, has been GlimpseJoy; so I am not going down the very slippery, slimy, depressing slope those topics could—and will—take me down.
After one entire year of living within the deepest darkest realms of this nightmare existence, I would like to step just outside and examine it from a slightly different angle. The angle through which I normally assessed my world, prior to this deep invasion of the soul. Trying to glimpse the joy in the midst of this chaos we call life. And this has been a quite chaotic year, to say the least, so glimpses might be all there are to be found. Maybe.
This move has drained me of much of my ability to express myself in the written word so there have been no blog posts about it. Thus my silence during the year was supposed to see renewed activity on this site. However, Brad and i both have shared a few of the shenanigans on Facebook, and if you have not followed along there, I will try to concisely list the facts of these past twelve months, before moving on to the purpose of this meandering of thoughts. I warn you, this is a story difficult to condense—please bear with my lengthiness. It is an entire year, after all.
First, envision three cars loaded with suitcases and belongings heading across the country in convoy—me alone with an extremely distressed cat, then each of our youngest two sons following closely behind. Happily contemplating a short ten days in a hotel before moving into our brand new home. A phone call mid-trip (literally mid-trip in mid-Mississippi) with the builder apologetically announcing that the home won’t be ready in ten days—more like 2-3 weeks…they say. It seemed the stair treads were not ordered in the proper time to install, but all else is on schedule…they say. The dozen or more delays prior to this point left us somewhat skeptical of the veracity of their timeline.
Skepticism was good. Upon arrival we discovered the house was missing way more than the stair treads. Very little had been accomplished in the month since we had last visited. There was at least six weeks of work left to be done before the home would be able to pass any inspections of occupancy. They agreed to pay to store our furniture for a month and find us a furnished apartment so we weren’t crammed into a hotel for the entire month. Well golly, wasn’t that nice of them?!
The apartment they picked was shady, to say the least. A rapid rundown of our days apartment included a water heater fire—with all our belongings forever smelling of acrid electrical smoke; my car being broken into and Joshua’s car being stolen, inside a gated parking lot.
Back to the house. The first three weeks we were in Texas NO work was done on our house. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. On the house that only needed stair treads but actually needing flooring, and tiles, and cabinets, and landscaping—way more than stair treads—absolutely no work was even started during the first three weeks after we arrived in mid-July. Infuriating is a word you could use to describe it, but it falls way short of the mark.
It soon became abundantly clear we were not going to close at the beginning of August, their new promised date. Whenever we confronted the builders on this reality they continued to assure us it would definitely close the first week of August. Until one day about three days before their August 8 date, when I firmly (and emotionally) confronted them and told them I knew this was not happening and all I wanted was their honesty—for once. They finally capitulated and said it would be more like the end of August. August 28, to be precise. The reality that they actually had a date for the closing led us to understand they had known this all along but were unwilling to admit it to us. Why? Who knows. Apparently, Lying About Everything 101 is taught to all home building employees before they learn anything else. Even before learning how to actually build a house—if they ever learn that remains to be seen.
At our final walk-through the day of the actual closing—the Monday after Hurricane Harvey ripped through the state—it was clear the home was still not ready (no surprise as we had been walking through on a daily basis since our arrival in mid-July) and many things still needed to be finished or repaired, but at this point we were kind of between a rock and a hard spot.
So we agreed to close with the contingency that they would continue to work on our house after we moved in to make it right. This work has continued to this very day, one year after our move from Georgia, as we await the tile installers to come and repair the tile in the entryway, as well as re-grout the guest bathrooms—again.
This past year has been filled with appointments, arguments, and days of workers in and out all day, as well as a five week period where they packed up our belongings and moved us out completely in order to rip out all the flooring, half of the walls in the second floor, a leak in the master bedroom ceiling, and replace an improperly installed support beam—as well as a plethora of smaller items to numerous to even remember, much less list. However, the five weeks were apparently not long enough and while we are now back in the house and trying to once again settle in, we continue to have almost daily visits of workers of one sort and another. Not to mention the fact that their movers scratched, dented, and battered much of our brand new furnishings.
In a nutshell, that seemingly exhausting list is really a mere sampling of what we’ve endured in these past twelve months. Needless to say, exhaustion is the best word to express most of what we’ve been feeling along the way. Mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.
But this really isn’t what I wanted to focus on today. Today I wanted to look back at the mess that has been this past year and try to salvation something from the wreckage of all these “wasted” months. Today I am choosing to glimpse those moments of joy that popped up along the way…and amazingly enough they really were there if we chose to tiptoe tall and pull our head far enough above the chaos and look out over the edges of insanity that surrounded our immediate day to day.
Joy. What joy, you ask?
For one, the endless wide open skies I get to see each and every day. I grew up with these miles and miles of blue as my constant companion, and while I loved the hills and trees of the north Georgia mountain region, my heart sings to be once again surrounded by a daily diet of never ending skies. Even the stormy skies and winter laden grey skies hold endless fascination for me. No trees block my view here. My bedroom window faces the eastern sky and through my solar blinds I am greeted by the Texas sunrise most every morning.
Also, this country girl LOVES living in the hustle and bustle of the city. And while San Antonio isn’t the largest metropolis around, it’s plenty big enough for me—with the ability to walk to the park, the zoo, the botanical gardens, a few shops and restaurants, the riverwalk, the museum, the jazz club, and still feel as if I’m off in a quiet suburb when I’m at home. Downtown, with all it’s crazy tourist chaos and the heart of the riverwalk is just a couple miles away, the airport is a ten minute drive from our door, and most other areas of the city are within a twenty minute drive in all directions.
The joy of being back in my home state is a constant reminder of why we’ve suffered this craziness in the first place. I can honestly say I truly loved the almost six years we were in New Jersey. And our sixteen years in Georgia left us with beautiful memories and amazing friends. But after 21 years away, both of us knew it was time to return and make Texas our home again. It just felt right. Despite all the turmoil, tension, and turbulence we still know this move was the right thing for us. It’s just time to be home.
There is always joy in friendship and we have had this in abundance during these past months. Our little “subdivision” is twenty-two houses strong, and quite frankly, they are all really nice people. We look forward to having more time to get to know them all better. We have taken a special liking to a couple of families who moved in around the same time as us and had similar, although not as extensive, issues. We have had several dinners, outings, and many chance meetings to commiserate, complain, compare, and even chuckle over our myriad problems. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each other and our new community together.
There are also friends from our past that we are slowly getting reacquainted with, and a few new friends, too. Overall, people have brought much joy to us in this crazy year. People have also been what has brought so much of the anguish and sorrow of these past months, it’s true; but for each person who has reminded me just how apathetic and selfish humans can be, there has always been multiple people to remind me of the loving goodness that fills them, as well.
God has been beside us each and every step—even when it’s so dark that it’s hard to realize. This year hasn’t been easy. I haven’t made a very pretty picture of “faith in the midst of…” on any given day during this ordeal. I can honestly say that, for whatever reason, this season has been even more difficult—in its own way— to walk through than the cancer that started my blog nine years ago. But even on my worst days (and there were 365 of those), I do know He has covered us in His love and walked with us through the darkest days. And He will walk with us all the way to the end of this season and into the next—which we pray will be a little (or alot) less chaotic; but even if it isn’t I know He will guide us if we just remember lean on Him.
We also have the added joys of two darling animals to share our days. Alfred has been my constant friend throughout his six years of life, and this past year we have become comrades in arms against the continual onslaught of workers. Now we have been joined by our little Schatzi, an Aussiedoodle puppy we insanely adopted a month ago, while moving back into the house. (Who even contemplates that kind of absurdity?) But in midst of the distraction of housebreaking and puppy antics, she has brought her own brand of comfort to us all. She is a bundle of boundless energy and sweet-tempered love, overwhelming all of us with both from sunrise til sunset.
Finally, and not least of all, there’s the daily joys of continued life and health (definitely tempered by long-term stress, but still healthy enough) to be thankful for each day. There’s a roof over our heads—even though at times we’ve wondered if it would cave in on us if we walked too hard across the room; there’s food on the table; and family. Every breath we get to breathe is a joy to hold dear, and some days we even remember to be grateful for that blessing.
This little post has taken most of the week to get written, and now I must sign off as I am once again supervising the tile guys who have come to fix the tiles they messed up Wednesday while fixing the tiles. I truly can’t make this stuff up.
And the beat goes on!