I’ve moved in but I still feel like I am in-between. I’m here, but I’m not REALLY here. My things are here, mostly, and my family is here, mostly, but I am not really able to do what I want or what I need.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this house. I mean, I really, truly, love this house. The wood floors, and the windows that don’t have drafts, and the huge back yard with apple, pear and pecan trees, and the shiny sink – I love it all. I love it more than I thought I would. It is bigger than I thought it would be even with all our furniture in it. The kitchen is nice and open and we have created a breakfast nook seating arrangement (thanks to the loan of benches from WP) so the dining area isn’t crowded. Even the bedrooms and office are roomy enough to hold all the furniture we wanted. Everything about this house is polished and pretty. One of the best things though, is that not one wall is white. Nearly every house we have lived in has had white – or nearly white – walls and while it is easy to touch up for the landlords, it is also boring, sterile, and gets dingy and depressing. This house has already been painted in tasteful, neutral tones that are warm without appearing dark or dismal. It looks loved and well cared for and just, plain, pretty.
The problems I am having have nothing to do with the house, really. They stem from the area the house is in and the companies I now have to deal with. Living 15 miles or more from any major retail chain is, in itself, pretty difficult for this city girl. The only grocery store in town is the mom-and-pop place a few blocks over that closes every day at 7:00 and is closed on Sundays. Here is a real measurement of how “country” this place is – the closest Wal-Mart is more than 20 miles away. There is one bank in town (not one that I already have an account with, of course,) one DQ, and the only pharmacy is attached to the mom-and-pop grocery store. If I need something other than wilted lettuce or overpriced hamburger, there are TWO dollar stores to choose from, but there is not one clothing, shoe, or book store of any kind.
Okay, I can handle doing my grocery shopping once a week so I can plan for the drive a bit better. And yes, not having ready access to a clearance rack at the retail store is probably better for all of us. What I can not handle is the lack of choice when it comes to the services in my home. Of course, the city supplies the water, and there is really only one natural gas provider out here. The crack-smoking-monkey-circus that seems to revolve around the electric, telephone, and television providers is beyond ridiculous, though. Research originally showed that I had to use the local co-op for electric (which I didn’t mind, because they were much less expensive than the other companies.) A full week after placing the connect order, I find out, that they don’t cover my area after all, and I had to scramble find some other electric company that would hook me up in less than a week and would charge me less than $400 deposit BEFORE service could get started. I had to go to a private broker and I still ended up paying more than $70 for a priority connection! All of THAT was the easy part of this ordeal.
What I am struggling with now is who will and can give me phone, internet, and TV service. This is the worst nightmare I have EVER had to deal with. (I should know, after 12 moves!) In this area, it is usually easy to get phone, internet, and TV service through one provider. It’s usually a smart idea because the one company will bundle service and save you money monthly and with start up costs. The not-smart part of it is that there are only two companies to deal with so I have no choice other than Dumb or Dumber. On one hand, these services seem like luxuries that I should be able to go without. On the other hand, there is a certain level of technology that is required for safety and job security. I need a house phone because cell service is not reliable around here, and even a 9-1-1 call might not go through on the wrong day. I get no television at all without some sort of service – not even local channels. That is just plain scary when you have bad weather coming and the only source of news you have is your hijacked internet connection from one of the neighbors. (If, by some universally weird chance, my neighbor actually reads this – thank you and I’m sorry.) Besides just wanting a life-line to the rest of the world, we have to have high speed internet service available so that DH can work from home.
Right now both companies are going back and forth about what services they do or don’t provide, which ones they can and can’t, and how much they want to charge me for the privilege of getting screwed over by them. Yes, it sucks, and yes, I can deal with it. I just don’t want to and I shouldn’t have to. Trust me, someone tomorrow morning is going to get an earful because I am just about fed up with all of this bull.
Along with the joys of dealing with corporate utilities, I am having to help my girls readjust to this new and strange life, too. Going from a school of 800 to a school district of 800 is quite an adjustment for anyone. Changing gears from city school to country school is a much bigger deal. First, my girls are small for their age. In the city, they might be the shortest in their class, but they sort of blend in. Out here, they are TINY compared to the rest of their class. So far they have been called names, asked rude questions, and directed to the wrong school because they look two or three years younger than their classmates. Also, I have mentioned my girls’ intelligence before and, not to brag or anything, they are really smart. In the city this happens quite often, I’m sure, and the teachers are equipped to handle this sort of excelled learning. Out here, my girls just look like freaks. There are 20 – yes TWENTY – children that are labeled “Gifted and Talented” in the district. Not the class, or even the school. The DISTRICT. In their old school there were at least a full class of students in each grade that were taught at the Gifted level. Here, there are so few kids that they actually pull these gems out of class for extra curriculum a few times a week. If they didn’t feel like wierdos before, they will now. Remember getting called up to the front of your class because your teacher needed to give you a note from your mom? Imagine getting REMOVED from class a few times a week because you are several reading levels above the rest of your SCHOOL. And that is just the youngest. To say my girls feel out of touch with their peers out here would be a huge understatement.
Of course, life has never just given me things to deal with that I could expect. No, I have to get a few extra “curve balls” in times like this. The week of the move, all three girls got the stomach bug that was going around the school. Normally I would regret their missing school, but they are really not going to miss too much, it seems, so I was able to let them stay home an extra day each to recuperate. The worst was trying to juggle fevers, stomach upsets, and kids that want to snuggle around packing, moving, and unpacking. That’s just before I get the bug, too.
We have been in the house officially since Saturday night. Today is Wednesday and I am still living out of suitcases and boxes. I managed to get plates, cups, bed linens, towels, and cleaning supplies unpacked before I was stuck in bed for two days, unable to keep down anything other than water. Since then, I have recovered nicely, but I have gotten precisely zero boxes emptied. Today, I was so fed up with everything I didn’t even have the heart to cook dinner. I knew I would regret it. I knew letting the kids graze instead of sitting down for a meal would produce grouchies and fussies. I let them go about their business anyway. Maybe, I’m a bad mom for taking a day off and letting laziness take over. Perhaps, I deserved the eventual meltdown when it happened. Tomorrow, I am sure I will go right back to my motherly duties and everything will be back in order (if you believe that, I have a bridge I think you’ll be interested in.) I can at least assure you that meals will be cooked and progress will be made in the unpacking of things (hopefully.)
I guess it is just really hard to me motivated about doing my “duties” when it’s just me in charge. With the current set up, we can’t afford for DH to commute to work everyday and until we get internet service here, he can’t work from home. He stays in his parents’ spare room during the week to cut his driving distance down by two-thirds. Right now, that means he drives in to work Monday morning, drives home to us on Friday nights. For the last month we have been staying with WP but now, on the evenings between Monday and Friday, I am alone and without him. More accurately WE are without him.
I know it is just as hard on the kids as it is on me - harder, probably, because while they know what and why, it must be really hard to understand. Our lives have been governed and railroaded because of money. That is all they hear. We are doing this to save money, or we can’t do that because it is too expensive. Now, they have to deal with just Mom and not Dad because of money. They had to leave their friends, family, and everything they have ever known because the lack of money. They hear all about it, and I don’t hide it from them. I won’t lie to them and I can’t expect them not to try and make some sort of sense out of all of this. I would rather be up front about it with them, as painful as it is for me, than let them think for one second that this has anything to do with them, or Daddy, or me.
I really feel like I have failed them in some way. If I had been stronger, or sought help sooner, maybe I would be further recovered than I am now and we would be able to make ends meet. So many “ifs.” No matter what I have been told, or even what I truly believe, I still feel that being financially unstable is some sort of weakness or flaw on my part. How many people my age are able own their own homes, or cars, or even have a credit card? These are all things I feel I should be able to do. In fact, these are all things I had once, but my life turned into a bad country song, and here I am (I lost my job, I lost my house, I lost my car. All that’s left now is my dog and my wife…um, wait a minute…) Anyway, I would be happy if I could make it two weeks without zeroing out the bank account, or worse. Shouldn’t a person with more than 15 years experience be able to earn more than minimum wage a few months a year? Is it unreasonable to expect that I am able to pay bills when they are due and budget for groceries, gas, and an occasional night out? All issues with the economy and jobless rate aside, a person of my age should be expected to be able to hold down a job and make at least a minimum level of comfort in their lives, shouldn’t they?
It isn’t the THINGS that I want, though. It is the security of knowing I can have the things IF I need them; the knowing that if there is a blown tire or a spike in the electric bill, I won’t lose EVERYTHING else because of it. Is it too much to expect of myself that I know Christmas comes at the same time every year (as do three birthdays and an anniversary) and I should be able to plan a little bit ahead so as not to make a late rent payment EVERY January (only to get caught up with the tax return in March, and then slide back late again by September.)
Okay, I guess I’m not as hyped and super excited about this move as I would like to think I am. I have dreamed for years of living where I can see the stars and be surrounded by trees. I just never wanted it to be because that is the last place in civilization that I can afford to live.