Up and down

Another weekend trip down. Another week started. Two months to go … We think. We hope. We need to sell our house. We need to find a house.

Yesterday was Phoebe’s birthday. The Big 2 … So if there was any weekend I was traveling back to K-Town -- it wouldn’t have mattered if the University was hit with a freak April snowstorm that killed the power and toppled buildings, thus creating a media frenzy -- this was the weekend I was doing it.

Thankfully, the weather was gorgeous. All weekend long.

I set my alarm for 5:45 a.m. Friday morning, packed my suitcase and was on the road shortly after 6:30. I drove side-by-side with the sunrise, and it was so, so swell.

I made my one-time pit stop in Iowa City, at the same exit I’ve stopped at during every one of my road trips. Gas at the BP and lunch at the Arby’s across the street. Pretty soon I was crossing into the Land of Lincoln and I was pulling into our garage around 3:30 in the afternoon … The only glitch in my trip was some roadwork along the Iowa-Illinois border that detoured me past my old stomping grounds in LaSalle-Peru. I would’ve stopped to check out the old neighborhood, too, if I wasn't so eager to get “home.”

Back in K-Town, I could hardly wait to get outside to work in our yard … Those plans were shot when Kates called to say she was running late from school and needed me to keep Phoebe company at the daycare. So I went to the daycare to meet Phoebe, and kept her company, until Kates could come with the car seat.

Friday night, we ate together. We danced together. We watched our recording of the “Glee” kids on Oprah. Being back at our home had never felt better …

*     *     *

When Saturday arrived, I couldn’t get to work in the yard fast enough. All of us were up, and Phoebe was plopped on the couch for “Bob The Builder” by 8 a.m. But I was stuck inside for the first part of the morning to help Phoebe and Kates get ready for their regular Saturday-morning-coffee-clutch-playdate-meet-up thing … A few of the young mothers from our church meet up at one of the local coffee joints, and the kids -- all girls around Phoebe’s age -- get to play together. Phoebe and the girls have become best buds, and watching them giggling together and making faces at each other across the pews at church Sunday sort of made me feel guilty for taking Phoebe away from them.

By 10:30, I was escaping in my yard. My beloved yard. Clearing brush and yard waste left over from the winter. Picking and pulling weeds. Made a trip to the city dump. Mowed the lawn. Spread some fresh cocoa mulch in one of our flower gardens, and repaired a block wall that was sagging. I even laid some fertilizer Monday morning before I got back in my car to drive back to The 'Ville.

I tore up my hands from all the work, but it felt great. I was in heaven. It was wonderful … And agonizing at the same time. As I looked around our yard, I couldn’t keep from feeling sad about what we’ll be leaving. The daffodils along the deck, the crocuses and hyacinths in the front -- everything was growing and filling in the landscape. This was supposed to be the year that I was going to start to see all my years of hard work coming to fruition. Instead, I’m going to be starting over in a new place.

At one point I said to Kates, “Maybe we can just keep this as our vacation home?”

I may have a little buddy to motivate me, though, at the new place. One of the enduring images from my weekend will be of Phoebe sitting outside with me Saturday night. I was finishing up in the yard, while Kates started dinner, and Phoebe begged to come outside with me. So I took her little hand and led her outside along our deck. Then she sat sweetly and contently on the step, watching me while I finished some trimming.

*     *     *
Sunday was Phoebe’s day.

After church, and lunch, and naps, and a rush to wrap Phoebe’s presents and clean the house, we had both sets of grandparents to the house to celebrate Phoebe’s birthday. Great-grandma H. joined the party this year, too.

Given all that’s happening these days, it was a more subdued get-together this year, compared to last. Nor were we riding high from the exhilaration of an Easter service this year … No dinner. Just some cupcakes, a few birthday presents and a relaxing afternoon with loved ones.

Among Phoebe’s birthday take this year were some clothes, some books and “Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie” on DVD -- which has Kates and I just as excited to watch … Kates’ mother also rescued a tea set, and a small table and chair from Kates’ grandmother’s home. Kates had played with the set as a child, and her mother lovingly fixed it up with a red and white plaid pattern. Phoebe was seated at it in no time, drawing on her new doodle toy with one hand (a present from Grandma and Grandpa H.) while pressing the buttons on her new Fridge Phonics toy with the other hand and singing to each of the alphabet songs. Kates bought the Fridge Phonics on the recommendation of Phoebe’s caretaker. The toy is Phoebe’s latest interactive favorite at her daycare, and Kates and I have been listening to Phoebe sing the songs at the dinner table for months.

But the one present Phoebe couldn’t wait to open? A pack of Goldfish she got from Grandma and Grandpa H., who watched her down handfuls of them during their trip to The ‘Ville a couple weekends ago. For awhile, we couldn’t entice Pheebs to open any other gifts because she only had eyes for the Goldfish.

Phoebe’s final gift was a baseball tee set from yours truly … We took her to the backyard to try it out. But she was more interested in doodling.

*     *     *

All the fun and joy of the weekend made leaving Monday morning tougher than usual. I also didn’t leave town until 9:30 a.m., so my usual timing along my route was out of sync. I ended up stopping three times for gas, food and restroom breaks. When it comes to my kind of road trippin’ -- that’s amateur.

More frustrating, I forgot my cell phone charger when I left The ‘Ville, so I was practically racing to get back before the last bar dimmed on my phone. The cell phone won, going dead about an hour before I reached my charger … And then I had to wait a good 15 minutes for it to charge enough for me to even place a phone call.

Compromising the situation further, Kates and I were trying to submit a revised offer on a home we’ve fallen in love with … The short version of a long story is this: We submitted an initial offer a week ago, but got beat by another bidder. Still, we were led to believe that if we removed a contingency from our offer, the seller would accept it. That hinged, however, on the other bidder failing to get financing in place by Monday. Throughout my drive yesterday morning, I had been communicating with our realtor about the revision, so when my phone went dead it threw me into a tailspin of wondering what was happening with our offer …

I finally arrived back at my apartment, got my phone charged enough to call our realtor and met her at her office, only to find out the other bidder’s financing had been approved. We moved forward and submitted the revised offer anyway, but our chances of acquiring the house appear to be all but a sliver now.

It’s unfortunate that Kates and I dawdled on this one. Initially, we got caught up on the home’s bedroom layout, some concerns in the basement and some quirks in the yard, not to mention the market for selling our home in K-Town. It took us some time to realize all of those things could be easily repaired, that the home was really kind of a steal (Kates called the backyard an “oasis!”) in a wonderful neighborhood, and we could still deal with our house in K-Town.

Last night, I was devastated. I’m still beating myself up over it tonight. We were on the losing end of two home offers in K-Town before we won the bid on our third attempt -- which proved to be, by far, the best of the three. Still, I can't recall being so bummed about those early losses as I am about this one …

It’s like we have all the puzzle pieces laid out on the floor in front of us. I’m here, and finding success and happiness. We had a grand time being here together a couple weeks ago, and Kates now has a serious job lead. But the puzzle pieces aren’t coming together as fast as we’d like.

Ah, but music never fails to speak to me. As I drove to work this morning, thinking How are we ever going to find a house that tops that one!?, Jordin Sparks started blaring on the radio …

Now you're feeling more and more frustrated
And you're getting all kind of impatient waiting
We live and we learn to take
One step at a time
There's no need to rush
It's like learning to fly
Or falling in love
It's gonna happen and it's
Supposed to happen and we
Find the reasons why
One step at a time

Before I could begin to think about the cheese factor in all of it, the lyrics were pouring into my ears and causing a smile to break over my face.

One step at a time.

No comments: