As I sit here on my balcony in 99 degree weather, with the wind gusting sporadically through the treetops and the sounds of DFW airplanes flying overhead, I can say that this is one of the last places I thought I’d ever call home. Queenstown, New Zealand? Sure. Thassos, Greece? Absolutely. Hanover, New Hampshire; Kailua, Hawaii; and Providence, Rhode Island? Yes, yes, and yes. But a born-and-bred New Mexican who spent 8.5 years living in the smallest state in the USA now moving to the (some would argue) largest state in the USA, in the outskirts of a giant metroplex that she’s flown through thousands of times just to get home to Roswell: I didn’t see this one coming.
I should probably backtrack because when last we spoke, I was living in Rhode Island, about to get married in Florida and take a honeymoon in Greece, and the future was a mysterious void I knew nothing about. Since then, Rob and I spent 40 days of Lent and Pascha in Orlando, took a cruise to the Bahamas and Haïti, and ended up in Dallas, Texas, where he accepted a job as a pastoral assistant with the intention of becoming an ordained priest. It seems as though our lives have a lot in common with Texas after all:
It’s an understatement to say I’m behind in blogging. I started several blogs in the last couple of months (“Warning: Planning a Wedding May Lead to Premature Death,” “How to Spend a Bonus Day in Greece,” and “Call me a Cruise Convert”), but I kept getting bogged down with things like packing and unpacking, so I figured I might as well check in with readers and let you know I am 1) alive 2) married and 3) now living in Texas.
We arrived to Texas at the very tail end of May. Essentially, as soon as our last-minute vacation cruise ship docked in Port Canaveral, we drove to our Orlando apartment, packed up the car, and drove west (technically north, then west). And I must to take a moment to remark on the marvel that is the Prius, and also the fact that miracles still happen in the present day.
It began with the potted plants. We have four potted plants, three large and one small. We had more, but we gifted some of them to our friends before we left Florida. Rob is the green thumb of the family, as I am known to overwater succulents until they rot and starve all other plants until they desiccate. When Rob reminded me that we had to take the potted plants in the car with us across the country, I nearly had an embolism because I hadn’t factored that into my Prius equation. I was thinking of our two large suitcases, our carry-on items and work laptops, all of the liquids our movers wouldn’t take–and don’t think for a SECOND I would leave behind an unopened bottle of olive oil from Greece–our “special” boxes of valuables, and everything we forgot we still had in the apartment.
One of those things happened to be our dining room table. We didn’t forget it was there, we just thought we had sold it on Facebook marketplace. But when we confirmed the pick-up on the day we arrived from the cruise, we realized FB had posted our table to people all across the country, and the person who agreed to buy it lived in Boston. None of the backup buyers even lived in Florida.
Since we had already checked local donation centers for large donation pick-up, we knew they weren’t available until early June. All of our tool boxes were taken with the movers, so we didn’t think we could disassemble the table to donate it ourselves, but BEHOLD! Miracle number one! Rob found some sort of tool* in his emergency car bag and was able to take the table apart, and–miracle number two–it fit inside the Prius!
*a screwdriver? I feel like I should know this.
The unexpected bonus for us forgetting about our shower curtain and plastic liner was that we were able to use the latter as a protective layer over the table, and we figured, why not take it with us? From there, Rob began Tetrus-ing all of our backpacks, suitcases, grocery bags, air mattresses, etc and plants into the car. Miracle number three: it all fit without soiling (literally) the car!
Our drive cross-country was uneventful, in a good way. We stopped for a night to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousin, where we left well fed, and we passed through New Orleans so Rob could check “eating beignets at Café du Monde” off his bucket list. We arrived to Dallas on Memorial Day, one of the last days of below-90-degree weather.
It is from here that the story gets interesting.
I mentioned “movers.” Having never used a moving company before, Rob and I learned we will never use one again. If it seems too good to be true–say, an estimate costing the same as it would to rent a U-Haul and move cross country yourself–it’s probably not true. The day the movers came, we found out we would be paying more than double the original estimate, which sent Rob into a full-body hive outbreak (which would have been okay had his Prednisone not been boxed up by the movers), but what we didn’t read carefully was the fine print that said our furniture may be delivered up to 30 business days after our move-in date.
The people who left Google reviews for the company (All Movers Relocation, in case you want to avoid them), prepared me to not see our furniture for quite some time, but I kept this to myself since I didn’t want to anger the hives. Thus, Rob was less prepared when we got the news. Here’s what transpired from May 29th until now:
Monday, May 30th
We arrive to our Airbnb. (Shoutout to Superhost Melvin because his apartment was the best-value for an Airbnb I’ve ever seen. We were in a great location, inside a gated community, with our own private garage, and a fully equipped apartment for $62/night.)
Tuesday, May 31st
Rob and I visit our future apartment complex to do a walk-through of our unit, since we didn’t get to see it before moving, and as soon as we open the door, I smell cigarette smoke.
“I cannot live this way!” I cry. The faucet is leaky, there are fruit flies (how? why?), and I panic.
We talk to the office and they say they’ll take care of it before our move-in date.
Wednesday, June 1st
Rob starts work. He begins with an early morning meeting and ends with vespers at night. He hits the ground running.
Thursday, June 2nd
This is the day before we move in. Rob visits the apartment complex to see how ol’ Smokey is doing. He tells me the smell is better, but not completely gone. He also calls our movers, whom we have not heard from since the debacle we had before our cruise. They tell him that our stuff is still in a warehouse in Florida because they have no trucks–the earliest they’ll get one is two weeks from now–and Rob panics. I fear a return of the hives.
I make a proposition. “Since we won’t have furniture for at least two weeks, and staying in an unfurnished, smokey apartment until our stuff arrives seems miserable, could we see if there’s another apartment opening in the next couple of weeks?”
Miracle number four: another unit, just like ours, on the same floor, in the same building, is available June 10th. It has a better balcony view, does not smell like smoke, and the rent is a little cheaper. Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Friday, June 3rd
Melvin can’t host us for another week, so I find another Airbnb. Unfortunately, our check-out time is 11am and our check-in at the new place is 4pm. We load everything back into the Prius and go to church. Rob puts the suitcases in his office, the plants on the sidewalk, and me in the copy room so I can be on a Zoom call for the next six hours training my replacement. Meanwhile, the Chancellor arrives for the National Oratorical Festival, so Rob is tasked with picking him up, but he can’t do this in the Prius*** because there’s a dining room table, air mattress, and other sundries taking up 80% of the car, so Fr. Mark shares his vehicle. The people at Rob’s office tiptoe around the copy room and apologize every time they have to enter, as though they are disrupting my day. Fr. Mark even offers me his office, thinking I’d like fewer disruptions while I work. Who ARE these people?
***his work vehicle is in the shop, so we’re sharing the Prius
I feel lucky to be in a place where Rob isn’t fired on day three for basically moving into the church office, and bringing his wife and plants with him.
Sunday, June 5th
Rob’s phone doesn’t turn on. “It’s a brick,” he says.
He has to be at church early, so he leaves at 7:15am in the Prius. I hitch a ride to church from one of the parishioners. The Bishop, the Chancellor, and all the National Oratorical finalists are at church–no big deal, just Rob’s first Sunday–and it’s safe to say very few people know what they’re doing. After the luncheon, Rob takes the Chancellor to the airport in our still-full Prius because Fr. Mark must take the Bishop in his vehicle a little later. Rob has no GPS because his phone doesn’t work, and he has never driven to DFW before, but by some blessed miracle (miracle number five!), he makes it there and back without incident.
We visit two phone-repair places in the evening. Neither one can help us.
Monday, June 6th
We try three more phone repair stores. Finally, the last one says they can’t fix it because of the way Google Pixels are made. Rob and I debate “iPhones vs. Androids,” but Rob prevails. We drive to AT&T to get him a new phone, but their computer system is down citywide. He is without phone for another day.
Tuesday, June 7th
Rob gets a new phone AND his work vehicle is out of the shop! We no longer have to communicate sporadically via Facebook messenger anymore, and he can drive himself to the gym at the crack of dawn! Such bliss.
Wednesday, June 8th
His car gets towed overnight. Rob doesn’t know the license plate or VIN since he just got the vehicle, but somehow he gets that information before 8am and we bail it out of car jail.
Friday, June 10th
We move into our apartment! It’s mostly empty, but it’s wonderful. With a couple of church folding chairs placed around our dining room table, which we didn’t even plan to bring with us, we share our first meal inside our new apartment.
Monday, June 13th
We receive an email: the movers have loaded the truck and we have a driver! Rob gives him a call, and he says he will arrive Thursday or Friday – right in the midst of summer camp, when Rob will be out of town – and he doesn’t have all of our furniture.
“What do you mean? What don’t you have?” Rob asks.
“Oh, just the bed, the bicycles, an outdoor table and chairs. Maybe something else? They did not fit.”
“How are we supposed to get it?”
“I don’t know,” the driver says.
It’s after business hours, and the moving company is closed for the night. We both panic.
Tuesday, June 14th
Rob begins researching the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at 4am and spends most of the day on the phone. All Movers Relocation wants us to pay 100% of the cost for an incomplete delivery, and since we have a binding contract, we learn they can’t do that. The FMCSA agrees with Rob that I should have a police officer with me when the furniture comes, since Rob will be out of town, in case something nefarious happens during the I-refuse-to-pay segment of delivery.
Just before I start hyperventilating into a paper bag, Rob works out an agreement that our stuff will be stored somewhere locally until the rest of our furniture arrives from Florida, and then they can deliver it all together.
A friend joked that our driver is likely smoking in the truck with all of our stuff.
A giant yard sale? Drop kicking boxes of fine China? What’s your guess?
I sit here on my balcony in 99 degree weather, with the wind gusting sporadically through the treetops and the sounds of DFW airplanes flying overhead, I can say that this is one of the last places I thought I’d ever call home. And yet somehow, even without any of our things, it already feels like home.