look before you leap? (starting 2015 with a whole new life)

(Continuing my documentation of our cross-country move)

This adage is very sound advice and generally I’m a cautious person when making big decisions but there was no looking at anything this time. Maybe part of what made this move difficult was the not knowing anything constantly, the feeling of the rug pulled out from under my feet and never knowing what to expect. Accepting a job offer and moving to California from Florida after only 3 weeks was so sudden the quickness of it left me off balance and did not help my adjustment.

In some ways, it would have been so much better if I had stayed behind while Daniel secured a place to rent for us and later we could have moved our things. I would have been able to apply for the Nursing License in California while still keeping my job a little longer and continue to earn money (and not be bored) instead of waiting to begin the application until after we had settled in the new rental house and then waiting 8 weeks longer to get the license approved. I could have had more time to settle the things that needed done before we moved and most importantly, I could have taken my time saying goodbye to everyone and everything I loved and would miss. I know I would have still been very sad of course but I wonder if I would have been so sad for so long or if maybe the depth of my feelings would have been less severe. I felt like somebody had died, really, I was grieving the death of my life as I knew it and felt very alone. Daniel told me he was afraid that if I stayed behind that I might never move.

As it was though, we were given a 1 bedroom, furnished apartment in Downtown San Jose with a limit of 8 weeks to find housing and move out. Meanwhile, all of our belongings were in storage and we had to live with just what we had brought with us in suitcases. Moving from a 3200 square foot home on a secluded acre to a very urban and, comparatively small apartment was a death in itself. Life seemed bleak, there was no doubting that things had changed for us forever.  I was alone long days while Daniel was at work and other than my school-work I had nothing to do. I couldn’t go very far because the dogs being crated over 4 hours made me feel guilty, I’m sure they missed their large yard and being crated for long periods was unusual before. Also, some days I didn’t have a car because I was tired of driving Daniel to work in traffic just for me to turn around again and go through the traffic home, then do it again in the evening to get him. So I let him take the car. The things I used to like to do that made me happy were boxed up or impossible to enjoy at the apartment. For instance, obviously, I love to cook but the meager and flimsy cooking equipment at the apartment made anything but the most basic cooking difficult. The knives were so dull they barely cut anything, we had just one pot and two pans, and a cookie sheet not much larger than a piece of notebook paper! We ended up eating out a lot or just having a salad and baked chicken. I love to read and got a kindle since I couldn’t get a library card without having an address. I tried to parlay my love of books into meeting people at a book club but the first meeting I went to had only 3 attendees (of the 9 that were supposed to be there) and I was the only one who had read the book! The second attempt went almost as poorly so I quit trying there. Other things I was interested in conflicted with my needing to drop off or pick up Daniel from work and aside from going to the dog park with Arthur, I had no opportunities to meet anyone.

Our anxious dog, Kendi, continued to be anxious at the new setup, confined more, new noises of people walking by in the hallway and riding in elevators had him on edge. Walking him became difficult because he would jump at dogs that would pass trying to defend himself against their presence. We had been doing behavioral training with Kendi at home to help him be better adjusted and less anxious over the small things that set him off and we were seeing some improvement. After he broke his tooth and the move though, we lost all the ground we had made with him and his behavior. Even though he had been on “doggie xanax” since the drive and for several weeks after we got to the apartment, he still was jumpy and anxious and when he was given the Xanax he was too sleepy to play. Xanax with dogs is just like with people. It will help in the short-term but in the end, it is a band-aid covering a larger problem and it shouldn’t be taken forever. After having surgery to remove his broken tooth and talking with the vet here (coincidentally a UF grad, go Gator Nation!) about his issues we decided to try him on Prozac. There were problems at first with him acting dazed but it cleared up and I am happy to say he is almost a different dog, for the better. He used to jump and skitter if I walked near him with the laundry basket and he would run terrified when anyone emptied the trash. He was insecure with other dogs to the point he would be aggressive and not tolerate their presence at all. After the Prozac he is so much more calm. He no longer runs from the trash bags and he is overly excited when other dogs pass but he doesn’t lunge and growl like he did anymore. I think trying the behavioral training was the right thing to do first but dogs, like people, have their own problems and imbalances and sometimes medication is the best thing. The puppy Arthur, adjusted so well. Arthur has so far, not lived anywhere longer than 2 months. His first 8 weeks was with his mother and litter mates, his second 8 weeks were in our home in Florida, the third 8 weeks were in the apartment in California and so far, we have only been in this rental home 8 weeks. I’m sure he expects us to pack up everything any minute now and take off again!  He is a sweet, curious and confident dog and thankfully he is mild tempered, he is 8 months old now and weighs 74 pounds, four pounds more than Kendi already and he has at least another six months of growing to do.

After getting used to being here for a few weeks we started looking for a place to rent that would allow dogs. This was very difficult. There were so many homes and apartments that were fine and fit our budget or were in an area we liked but wouldn’t consider pets. When we did find a home we liked that allowed pets we would get there for a walk through with the realtor and get a tour with one or two other families! Never have I heard of that, this is not an open house but our appointment was double and triple booked sometimes. People were offering more for the rents than the asking price and we didn’t get many of the places we wanted because the competition was so fierce. Finally, at yet another home where we had an appointment for a showing (with two other families) we thought we liked this one and quickly contacted the owner right after we saw it. We offered more than the asking rent and were able to rent this house. It’s bigger than we need but the houses that fit us better got snapped up by others. It is in an area that is nice, the streets are pretty and lined with trees. It is hard though to look at this house, with it’s “cookie-cutter” design and out-of-date tacky fixtures and compare that to our 90-year-old home that had aged and remained classic, the details were charming not out-of-date tacky and the repairs needed were easily forgiven, the house is very old after all. But here we are and here we will stay until we can afford to have another home of our own.

Meanwhile, Daniel goes to work happy, comes home happy, spends the weekend happy and goes off again to work Monday’s, still happy. I can’t tell you how much of a relief that is. Prior to moving I would worry about how he would be when he got home from work, angry or deflated after another soul-crushing day at work when asking “how was your day” was inviting a discussion about all the problems at his job. All weekend he would worry about having to go back on Monday and then he would leave for work unhappy. At the very very least, the whole purpose of the move was successful, Daniel has a job he loves and is as happy as I’ve ever known him.

Now that we are in a house and have a dog-walker, we have taken advantage of the hiking that is available here. Besides Daniel being happy, I still haven’t found any other good reason to be here other than the hiking. Part of it is that I feel suffocated in all this…city and desperately have a need to be away from it often. I didn’t feel this at home, the town was small and the green spaces were everywhere. Our yard was sufficient actually. So now, with our plastic coated, Astroturf back yard the size of a storage container backing up and surrounded by our neighbors identically laid-out smudges of “yard” the only words I have to describe it are negative. VERY. So my next posts will include some of our hiking and other attempts to enjoy being here. I’m really trying. I am.

Have a wonderful 2015, may it bring you (and me) happiness and love.


One thought on “look before you leap? (starting 2015 with a whole new life)

  1. Hang in there lady!
    “Beginnings are usually scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s what’s in the middle that counts. So when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up. And it will.”
    ― Steven Rogers, Hope Floats: The Screenplay

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