When I first began “Here and There,” I envisioned an offbeat chronicle of Jersey Shore happenings, family fun and an occasional trip beyond Cape May County’s borders. But a lot has changed.
For starters, my husband Troy’s moved out. Though not permanently. He took a new job with better prospects at PJM in Audubon, PA., near Valley Forge. His new (temporary) home is a two-room apartment in a Homewood Suites, generously provided by his new employer. It’s not a bad deal — morning breakfast, weekday cocktail hours and (unlike at home) daily maid service. So for him, it’s a major lifestyle upgrade even though he’s tried to convince me he’d rather be here in North Wildwood with me.
We’ve undergone a “lifestyle upgrade” down here at the shore as well. I’ve begun an exciting new life as a stressed-out, often-single mom and housewife. Plus, I am trying to sell our house, which as many of you know, we bought as a fixer-upper about five years ago and renovated ourselves (with the help of family). So the emotional ties are strong here…and it’s a good house with strong bones and a sense of fun. We love it, but we can’t afford to keep it. So day by day I am learning to say good-by.
We listed the house on March 29. Since then, one of my primary jobs is to get the old girl ready for “showings.” A showing is a courtship ritual, where-by suitors, known as “potential buyers” and matchmakers known as Realtors (with a capital “R” for respect) make an appointment to visit your home. You prepare by throwing all of your clutter under the bed and into bureau drawers, and hiding dirty laundry in the car. Then you vacuum, polish, fuss, primp and wait…and wait…for up to two hours for your “date” to arrive.
The encounters are brief, often as short as 15 minutes, but long enough to feel excruciatingly judged on every aspect of your life from design colors and home maintenance to hobbies and parenting. At times, it feels as though a mini-flash mob has invaded, poking through closets, looking for flaws and making you feel tiny and exposed. Yet perversely, when they leave, you still hope that they liked you and you’ll get a second chance.
It all does wonders for the self-esteem.
When Troy took the new job in January, I supported the idea. After all, we’d done it before, hadn’t we? When Troy was in the Navy, we moved seven times in seven years to Florida, New England, Washington State, Upstate New York and more. But it’s different this time. Uncle Sam is not smoothing the transition and the real estate market is terrible. Luckily, the company offers good relocation benefits, which helps quite a bit, but we’ve both come to realize this is a much tougher challenge than we imagined.
Worry creeps in like weeds and our roots feel like they are eroding. Day to day decisions are harder to make. Do I plant the garden? Do I pick up a freelance job? Can Troy get back a few days a week to help coach our daughter Katie’s softball game? It’s an odd feeling of not quite being here or there.
But during a rare hour-long phone call last night, Troy gave me a much-needed dose of perspective. It could be much worse. “Could you imagine losing your job and being underwater on your mortgage and trying to relocate like this?” he asked.
He’s got a job. We’ve got a nice place to live, our health, an awesome family and each other. We really are lucky in so many ways. So today, I decided to stop trying to control what can’t be controlled. I’ll enjoy my house, which is always clean for a change. I’ll write more. I’ll try to live in the moment. And I’ll start each day with a walk along the beach, which at least for now is practically just outside my door.