I have been feeling BLEH for a while now. My world is crazy busy and I haven’t had time, or made time, to chill out and relax or to recover from the icky headcold that has plagued me for weeks. One of the benefits of the crazy busy is having July fly by without me having a chance to really have time to dwell, or perhaps I have allowed myself to be crazy busy in response to the fact that it is actually July. Who knows? Anyway, July is almost over and I feel as if I have made it through unscathed. Of course I am writing this on the evening of the 29th so there is still time, however I won’t publish until I have made it through the month.
I have written before on here, this time last year about a few of the more painful reasons for why I hate July, other than the obvious cold weather. Now it is time to finish off the Why I hate July saga with Part 2. Last year I alluded to what was to come, I even mentioned it at the beginning of the month so now it is time to continue – the move from hell. I imagine that this could become a long winded post, not only because it was an emotionally charged time of my life but because it was also extremely amazing in a craptastic kind of way. To prepare you for what is to come (or so you can just skip to the end or the photos), I present you with bullet points
- man-child working between Australia and the USA to get ready for the move that was to take place in July
- the renovations needing renovating before the move
- the relocation from hell and why it went wrong
- the return to Australia feeling like I had given up, that I didn’t try and I had failed myself and my family
So here it is, Part 2 of Why I hate July. This saga actually began sometime late in 2004 and not during the month of July. To set the scene, boy-child was a very active and inquisitive almost 3 year old and girl-child had just turned 1. I was back at work 3 days a week, juggling shift work and kid activities. We had settled into our now not-so-new house and had just lived through renovating a house that didn’t need renovating. Man-child had an awesome opportunity to work in the US and spent many months working 3 weeks in the US and 3 weeks here. It was hard work single parenting. I could manage the single part OK, it was the excitement during the weeks when we were all together that were hard, when routine and consistency were thrown out the window. Trying to make the most of the crazy together times knowing that all to soon man-child would be flying out again, knowing that the kids didn’t understand why sometimes dad was here and sometimes he wasn’t.
As a family we decided that the commuting between countries wasn’t the lifestyle for us. Instead of returning to work only in Australia, man-child was offered a permanent position working in the US. It was his lifelong dream to work and be successful in the US and he had loved his time working there. It seemed too good an opportunity to refuse and I was bored with work and in need of a change so we set about to try and make it happen. He was still with the same company that had relocated us to New Zealand a few years previously so we knew it was a real opportunity. We also knew that the company wasn’t going to hire a relocation consultant to assist with the move and the HR department didn’t have the experience to do it (other staff members who had been relocated and ended up with insane daily commutes because they weren’t aware of local conditions). Being the control freak that I am, I was happy to do much of the research for the move.
Initially we offered to relocate for 3 months, using up all of the leave I had accrued but the powers that be thought hat 3 months would only be enough time to settle into the postion without actually getting anything done. They wanted us there for a full year. There was even talk of me working for the same company as I had previously worked for them and still knew their products.
Things were starting to get serious – a full year in the US, awesome. The next few months was all about getting organised for the move. I would research online, finding neighbourhoods that sounded great, comparing school districts and child care, even looking at crime statistics in each area. I would email my findings to man-child and he would check out the locations in real life. I also began the process of arranging leave from work and doing the math on whether it was more cost effective to relocate our furniture or store it. All of the math was based upon us being in the US for a year, until the ‘company’ decided that it was not worth doing if it was going to be less than 2 years, 3 would be even better. I couldn’t fathom being away for 3 years, besides I may not have had a job to come back to after 3 years. I could confirm my employment for a 2 year leave of absence so we negotiated and committed to a 2 year stay with the possibility of staying longer if it was working for everyone. Still the whole idea of moving to the other side of the world was too good to be true.
I re-did the math for the move and all of a sudden it was going to be more cost effective to ship all of our furniture rather than store an entire household (3 bedrooms and a study full). Now up until recently we had crappy old furniture but post renovations we thought the new spaces deserved new, pretty and darn expensive furniture so just giving away all the furniture wasn’t an option. We did the right thing and arranged for 3 independent quotes for shipping the furniture and with the backing of the HR department, we accepted a quote for shipping.
Next thing we knew, the rules were changed. The owner of the company, ever conscious of costs, offered to store our furniture for us, free of charge, in an unused yet clean and safe part of one of the buildings he owned. Furthermore, he would allow us to purchase or hire the furniture we would require in our new apartment. Fantastic – the shopping trip of a lifetime to fully furnish a place, all using someone else’s money. We were able to cancel the shipping company without incurring costs, merely the embarrassment of being perceived as being incompetent.
Next task on the to-do list, find renters for our house. Despite saving money by not having to ship furniture, we couldn’t afford the mortgage here and living costs in the US. We found friends of a friend who lived up the road who were looking to move and our place seemed perfect for them. Just as we were about to draft up contracts, fortunately before they gave notice to their land lord, the ‘company’ had decided that they could rent our house to use for corporate short-stays and for when we would be in town. It would be more affordable for them to pay our mortgage than it would for them to pay our accommodation costs when we were back in town.
Of course by now, knowing that we weren’t going to ship our furniture and didn’t have to pay insane storage costs, we had given away or sold off all the furniture that we wouldn’t need in 2 years. That included our bed (it was really old and in need of upgrading so we thought we would splurge when we returned) and all of the kids bedroom furniture. Really, we would have no need for a cot and junior bed when the kids were going to be at least 3 and 5 when we were due to return. In fact the only furniture we had not gotten rid of was the new furniture my beautiful leather lounge suit (that comes with a side story that is too long for this long post), teak TV cabinet and shelves and our new dining table and leather chairs. Oh well, they could just fit out the bedrooms before they used the house, that wasn’t going to be a problem. It also meant that we could leave all the whitegoods in place and leave the house stocked with crockery, cutlery and non perishable food items, as in the other company short-stay residences we had stayed in.
We seemed all set for the move. Visas granted, tickets purchased and accommodation sorted. The apartment we were to move in to was to be re-carpeted and wouldn’t be available for 3 weeks after we arrived. We didn’t mind, we could camp anywhere for 3 weeks. We had visions of dodgy motels alongside a highway but it turned out that another couple who had been living in the area were moving back to Melbourne and the property they had been living in was available. Man-child had stayed there, with them on previous visits and agreed that it would be better than staying in cramped motel lodgings so it was all sorted.
Of course this all sounds far to simple and easy right. Well during this time, when man-child was still doing the three week commute thing, I found that there was a leak in a downstairs pipe. Now the water had flowed underneath the almost brand new solid wooden floor that had been laid as a part of the unnecessary renovation. The entire floor was ruined, as were 2 walls. The floors needed to be ripped out and that meant removing the still shiny new kitchen. Thank god insurance covered the damage bill, but it was challenging. I had to fight with them so they would understand that we couldn’t live in a house with no kitchen or floors with 2 young children. Eventually they seemed to understand my dilemma and found local accommodation for us. We had to move out for 2 weeks to allow for the kitchen to be removed, the floors removed and the sub-floor dried before a new floor being laid and the kitchen being put back together. Living in a small third floor apartment with no elevators and 2 kids was challenging to say the least, especially as I was single parenting for most of that time. Naturally we were supposed to be packing and getting organised for the move during these weeks but we couldn’t actually access our house!
So now the house is back together, we have packed. We managed to get rid of copious amounts of toys and clothes, even books but we still packed up boxes and boxes of essential items to be shipped to the US to be there when we arrived. The first shipments that went were off-season clothes, the following shipment was to be essential toys and all the books we had purchased about our new home. Books about Princeton, about bike rides and holidays in New Jersey, about must see attractions in New York as well as books about kids activities in the Princeton area. We were taking essential toys and kids books with us on the flight, as well as all the clothes that we were still wearing here, going from mid winter, as well as some clothes for summer in case our boxes never arrived. We were fully loaded with the maximum we were allowed to take. Hooray for the huge luggage limits when flying to the US – we were each allowed 2 suitcases plus carry on, a stroller, a baby backpack and a laptop.
Farewell parties were held, goodbyes were said. Plans for friends to come and visit were made and we were all set to go, to embark on the biggest journey of our lives. It was exciting, scary and homesick sad all in one go, but mainly exciting.
The day of departure finally arrived, the 3rd of July 2005 and with it my hatred of July was to be re-kindled. Already this post is way too long before I even hit the good parts, I will continue in a new post shortly, one that has pretty pictures to accompany the many words!