Anyway, I'd love to get into the details of "International Convention: Part Deux" as well as recounting my current quartet & chorus's first foray into Pioneer District competition, but right now, it's difficult to recall the details with so many other things on my mind. After a couple years of gathering paperwork, faxing and FedEx-ing, and much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, I've finally decided to let my home of 13 years go.
It wasn't an easy decision to come to. It was my first house, I raised 2 kids there, my daughter was born IN that house, not to mention the simple matter of personal pride and responsibility I have regarding my mortgage obligations and being a homeowner. Ever since I set foot in that house for the first time, I started planning home improvements, floor plan changes, future additions, etc., to make that my home for as long as I could. I love the neighborhood, the location, the town - everything about WHERE it is.
Recently, however, the realities of this house began to dawn on me. It was built in 1954 and still had original...everything. Asbestos shingle siding, steel kitchen cabinets with enamel-coated iron sink, same 750 sq. ft. floor plan, rotting wood windows, and gutters. About the only things ever replaced in that house were the furnace (almost 30 years ago - we'll get to that) and the water heater (about 4 years ago). To make this house a GOOD house, even with the current floor plan, it would require a good $20k in renovations and upgrades.
Nonetheless, it was currently inhabitable and I figured once I got the mortgage back on track and my credit straightened out, I could start some of these renovations, one-by-one, with the help of county home improvement grants and energy efficiency rebates. Then came the final straw...
Since I started up the furnace this year about a month ago, I noticed that the burner had trouble staying lit. It would run for about 30 seconds, peter out, then relight with a BIG WHOOSH. This, I determined, did not seem normal operation, or safe at all. I called in a tech to look at it, hoping it was mostly a matter of cleaning off something. No such luck. He gave an estimate of about $1,3000 to replace the pilot assembly and to clean the furnace completely (being enclosed so much and needing to basically be disassembled it to do so). This ON TOP OF the other $20k+ in renovations I would need to do at some point to the house. In a place I STILL wasn't sure I'd be able to keep, in a market where the value of the house as it is would be something equivalent to a cardboard box behind a McDonald's, I wasn't about to commit to that kind of investment.
So, the next day, I started looking for an apartment. After crunching numbers for what seemed like days, I determined that I could afford something akin to what my old house payment was...barely. I looked in my beloved Hazel Park/Ferndale area and only found run-down flats in "iffy" neighborhoods, so I stared expanding my search. I decided to take a look at Amber Apartments, the parent company of which owns about half the apartment complexes in Royal Oak and neighboring communities. I was SHOCKED to find, than when I included what I'm used to paying for my gas & water bills (both of which are included in the rent) it was smack dab in my budget range for a similar-sized place!
I looked at a very nice 2-bedroom 2nd floor apartment in north Royal Oak, and fell in love with it. It was at the upper end of my budget, but I figured I could swing it. It was in familiar area, close to my favorite repair shop, and walking distance from the 14 Mile/John R shopping district. I started gathering my paperwork and applied, and to my slight surprise, I was approved!
I immediately started to pack, gathering up all but what I would need to survive for 2 weeks, assuming that when my paycheck was deposited, i would have the money to pay security deposit, cleaning deposit, & 1st month rent. My dad sent me enough for the deposits to hold it, just in case. That money cleared on Monday, but I go straight from work to chorus on Mondays, so I didn't have time to take care of it. By Tuesday, I figured since my paycheck would be in my account the next day, I would just wait ONE more day, and take care of everything at once. BIG MISTAKE!
I go into the rental office, pay stub copies and debit card in hand, and said with a huge grin, "I'm ready to sign!" The associate I had been dealing with gave me a sad, pitying look and said, "you see those guys at the table? They're signing the lease for that apartment right now."
I was devastated. I had my heart set on this place, most of my life already packed up, and even pointed out the amenities of the neighborhood to my kids (including the candy store across the street). She politely offed the rest of the list of available apartments, which I had already been through. She suggested one just up the road that, while not the 2-bedroon I was looking for, had more square footage, and might suit me well. I reluctantly took the building key and went to look.
I was...impressed. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but it WAS bigger, better closet space, MUCH better kitchen, and it was a 1st floor, so moving in would be easy. Best of all - $25/mo cheaper and walking distance from work. As I walked the apartment, I started envisioning how the furniture would work, how I would work the kids in there for the weekends with only 1 bedroom, and thought to myself, "Y'know, this just might work!"
I went back to the rental office and signed the papers right then, without even looking at the other (slightly more expensive) apartments she suggested. I pick up the keys this Thursday, move boxes myself Thursday & Friday, and gather the troops to help me with furniture on Saturday.
I know, moving isn't necessarily such a huge deal to most, but (aside from a brief stint or 2 at my sister's place) I've lived in the same home for 13 years. This is more than just changing where I am. This is changing a lot of WHO I am. I have been a homeowner for 13 years. Now I'm a renter. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it's taking some adjusting of my own self-worth and re-evaluation of my perspective on things.
I have almost half my lifetime of memories wrapped up in that broken-down house. It's tough to let some of them go.
...Others, however...good riddance! I'm moving up, moving on...MOVING OUT!
(pictures eventually, I hope)