We finally moved into our home–two months after having bought it!! We’ve been moved in for two weeks now and things have settled down enough that I finally feel able to update our status here. I’ll just fill you in on the more interesting details of our first two weeks, but rest assured there is a lot more that I just don’t have the energy to tell you about tonight.
If you remember, the previous occupants were not too happy about leaving. When we arrived with our two vans and a small U-Haul trailer to unload in the evening hours of the agreed-upon move-in date, we discovered that we had been left one key which only opened one of the three entry doors. An even greater discovery, however, was that there was a whole lot missing from the house that we had not expected to be gone. All the towel racks, toilet paper holders, several doorknobs, two vanity lights, all of the downstairs light fixtures except one, all of the upper cabinets in the downstairs kitchen, the dishwasher, the kitchen sink, the curtain rods, the closet shelves and rods…not to mention the gouges and holes knocked in the walls. Sigh.
Oh, did I tell you that it was getting dark as we were feverishly trying to get everything unpacked and into the dark house with five tired and cranky kids as helpers? Yeah, that was super-fun, and when I say super-fun what I really mean is awful. It was completely dark by the time we finished and we ended up barricading all of the entry doors with our belongings because we didn’t have time to change locks. The first night was about as much of a letdown as you can experience when moving into a new home.
The next day was spent gathering up trash and belongings they had left behind. I also scrubbed furiously to get a bathroom and kitchen clean enough to be usable. The thorough cleaning led to some interesting finds. We discovered that there was drug use and probably dealing going on in the house. I found drug paraphernalia, a couple of stash locations and a small amount of actual substances as I cleaned my way through the various rooms. We had no idea they were doing that here! One discovery prompted us to call the police so that we could turn said item over to them. My husband, bless his heart, went through and shampooed all of the carpets after a couple of days. It was so wonderful! Have you ever had to sleep on a filthy carpet? If so, you understand just how thankful we were to get it clean (or as clean as possible).
We also started to discover some of the house’s quirks: a leaky kitchen window, a couple of small leaks in the attic, non-functioning outlets, a leaky toilet, a crazy labyrinth of a basement.
The first week was really just a desperate attempt to catch up on the mountain of work to make the house habitable and try to establish a working daily routine. We made it through, but it was definitely not feeling like home.
The second week gave us a few opportunities to catch our breath. We got to visit the library, which is super-important to our family. We ate at IHOP and encountered a homeless man sipping a beer in the lobby as we were leaving. I stopped and sat by him on the bench, gave him the $4 in my purse and chatted for a few minutes as the children stood by and we waited for Daddy to come join us. The man was shy and cast furtive glances at me as we talked, but he ended up smiling and told me that his mama used to make good pancakes. I felt bad that he had to think back to a time probably more than 40 years ago to dredge up that positive memory of a time he felt loved. As we walked out to the van I lamented that we couldn’t do more for him. I remember what it’s like to be cold and feel forgotten. I wish I could fix that for everyone. We talked about keeping a tote with supplies in it that a homeless person might need to stock up on, for the next time we encountered someone like him. It’s not an idea that would fix the underlying problem, but I suspect that it would be a way to tell someone who is homeless: I care about you and I want to help meet your needs.
We had a few visitors to our house, as well. Our realtor and friend stopped by for a short visit the day after we moved in. A family that we’re friends with rented a huge U-Haul and brought a lot of our belongings down to us from storage, then helped unload the van and stayed overnight. It was a lot of work, and I was especially proud of how all of our kids kept at the work even though they were tired, crabby and hungry. They are troopers! Another church friend came this weekend with a carload of our belongings and helped with more cleaning (Seriously, I think we’ll be scrubbing for 6 months!).
The house is starting to feel more like home now, albeit a semi-functional home. We just got the washing machine hooked up today (hooray!), the kitchen is mostly usable (with its electric frying pan/griddle/microwave/mini fridge/toaster oven setup), we’ve found Walmart, and we now have a real dining room table to eat at (with chairs, no less!). We’re looking forward to what God has planned for us in this place, but we’re also feeling the weight of everything that still needs to be accomplished–from installing light fixtures/doorknobs/cabinets, to cleaning, to disposing of a basement full of rubbish, to unpacking a mountain of boxes, to finding a couch that will fit through the door, to tackling the exterior repairs. All the big and little things add up quickly and can feel like they’re going to bury you. We’re trying to maintain a healthy pace and take things slow and steady. The work isn’t going anywhere!
Tomorrow we’re trying out a new church as we haven’t been able to attend service the last two Sundays. We’re just trying out a likely place and we’ll see how it goes. Eventually we’ll find the right place.