Enjoy Writing | Oh My My My | Part 4

i was thirsty so I drank
and though it was salt water
there was something 'bout the way
it tasted so familiar
josh ritter | change of time
part 1 | part 2 | part 3 

There once was an August that changed everything.  An August where the climax began to build.  An August where life as I knew it was never the same.  And that is where we find ourselves in the story.  But, again, we must back up just a smidge. Soon we'll be done with setting and back story, and we'll find ourselves happily enjoying the drama and romance.

For now, we must go all the way way way back to 2006 where there was a little woman named Becca who married her best friend, and they moved into a small apartment with a green kitchen.  They lived the precious married life, where they cut coupons, made cookies, went on adventures and laughed hard.  They named a stuffed animal and brought said animal on trips.  They were addicted to local sports and potatoes.  They hosted 10 wiley and chattery 18-year-olds from church at their house every Tuesday.  They fed them, played with them, talked with them, welcomed them and made them like their own family.  I was one of "them."  We spent evenings in their green kitchen, laughing and doing dishes. Becca was a church secretary and her best friend was working in real estate.  Then he worked as a church employee.  Then he was a lifeguard.  And an Apple Genius. For the first few years of their quirky, young forever, Andree struggled to find his "career."  He always worked.  He always found and had a job, but he was searching for a career.  He wasn't a bum or mooch.  But most of us come to that point in life: what exactly do I want to do forever? What am I good at? What are my passions? Could I actually live off of my dream job and support a family with it? 

In the sneezy spring of 2008, this wondering heart of a husband got an e-mail from his mother that changed everything.  She had sent him some information about the occupation of Air Traffic Control Specialist.  The fantastic with technology, OCD, up for a challenge, fascinated with airplanes and flight Andree was intrigued.  Three days later he sent in an official application to become an air traffic controller.  When our little crew of now 19-year-olds found out, we were so excited for him.  We asked him questions.  Becca looked so proud.  He looked innocent - like a child who had was being publicly praised for a good deed.  He'd probably have to interview in exciting places like New York or Chicago.  Or at least that's what the forum online said.  After the interview (which he was obviously going to get, in our minds) he had to go to an strange place (Oklahoma) for five months (what do people do in Oklahoma?).  That's where the air traffic controllers get trained, at a huge training facility (the forum said so.)  But in the meantime he had a few meetings and perhaps a drug test to get through.  No big deal (at least I thought.)

Becca worked and waited.  Andree worked and waited.  Springs turned into summers more than once, and snow fell fast and grimly for some winters. There were tests, phone calls, little trips, scary reports, months, voicemails, tears, moves and prayers.  On June 11, 2010 (over two years after applying for the job!) there was a special announcement: the fun-sized, big-hearted, determined couple would be moving to Oklahoma in just a few weeks.  I think bells chimed.  Or tolled.  Whichever would be more celebratory.  We rejoiced through the merry land of Maryland.  We longed for our good friends to arrive at this day.  We waited hopefully with them.  We sometimes didn't know what to say when it was particularly hard to wonder about their future.  But God, as he tends to do every now and then, arranged the timing of these events perfectly.  So, here we are with Becca and her best friend packing up their world for a brief stint in the midwest.   

And me? Well, as for me, my life was a zoo.  Ever since my birth in August 1989 I had lived a silly, adventurous, full, athletic, diaper-y, warm life with my parents, who brought home six little people for me to love.  I had always lived with my eight favorite friends.  We moved to San Diego together.  We spent extended time in New York together.  We mostly live in Maryland together.  Just around the time that secretary and her man confirmed their move to Oklahoma, my parents confirmed their move to Florida.  My father's work was thriving.  The new Florida branch was opening and "corporate" wanted my dad to be the guy to head it up.  I made the hard decision to stay in Maryland and not live with my family.  In early August they packed up their house, sailed away in their cars and I watched little hands and wrists flail to me all the way down the road.  I think I sang Kenny Chesney's "There Goes My Life" 42 times that day.  Our large blue-gray country home was empty, aside from my bedroom upstairs and a few closets.  We thought it might take quite a while to find renters for the spacious, far for the highway, very, um, used home.  I worked hard to clean, paint, curtain-rod-assemble, Craigs-list and show our house.  On August 15th I prepared to be little miss real estate mogul (Bravo has done me well).  With fresh flowers, music, and crumb cake on hand, I greeted a smiling family and their big-eyed children.  We walked and talked and enjoyed the property.  Over two acres of woods, a hearty wooden deck with screened in porch, hot tub and grill set-up, an above-garage loft, wood floors, tall windows, and a master bathroom the size of four college dorm rooms: I loved bragging about my home, dents in the walls, stains on the carpet, "personality" in the appliances and all.  Within 30 minutes, they were sold.  "I'll bring the contract and deposit by in the morning." WHAT. "How much should I make the check out for?" WHAT? "Oh, and would it be possible to move in this weekend?" WHAT! I'm not sure what my face was doing, but my heart was running away through my ears (and scorching them.)  I was hot and queezy.  Right now? This is happening now? I was truly convinced this process would take months.  HAVEN'T YOU HEARD ABOUT THE ECONOMY?  And, let's be honest, this was no $899 studio apartment down the road from your university.  We were offering quite the treasure, at quite a cost! 

But, on August 16th, a lease was signed and I was on the hunt.  Mom and dad and the kids were in Florida.  Becca and Andree were in Oklahoma.  The rest of my friends were up at the shore for a church retreat.  I gathered my important documents and "I'm not intimidated by real life" outfits, and started to apartment hunt.  God rolled out the red carpet.  The latest and greatest strip of food and activity in my county is on Century Boulevard.  The movie theater, the library, the art center (complete with outdoor performance stage), a Chipotle, frozen yogurt land, Panera, grocery store, banks, Starbucks, dry cleaners, Five Guys, Moby Dick, Thai AND Chinese restaurants, camera shop, shoe store, Chick-fil-a, Italian dining, and more are all located on one road, about four or five blocks long (not to mention this road is one minute from the main highway).  The Pinnacle Apartments are located in the dead center of the road.  I was hooked.  I wanted to live there.  
I walked into the building and met a leasing office girl (named Brittany or Katie or Megan or something like that, obviously required by leasing office's everywhere) who was going to show me the apartment I was there to see.  A 2-bedroom (one for me, one for an office) space on the fourth floor, behind a dumpster, with a view of a parking lot.  I hated it. "No wonder it's so cheap," I thought. Kat-Britt-gan-ley saw my dismay written all over my face.  "If the second bedroom is really only for an office, I just might have a place for you."  She chatted with me as we echoed down the long four story staircase.  "Technically it has one bedroom with a den. But a den is just a room without a closet! And offices don't need closets! Right?! I mean, unless you want a closet.  Do you want a closet in your office? I don't have a closet in my office. I mean, at work I do, but not my home office. But I mostly work at work, and we do have closets."  

We crossed the street and she pointed out to me the apartment.  At the corner of a four-way stop, directly across from the library and catty corner from a Five Guys, was the Emerald City of apartments.  The second story home had wall-to-wall windows that overlooked the street corner, with a pint-sized wooden porch.  We went up into the building and I discovered that the back side of the place had a large swimming pool, complete with grill and umbrellas!  Inside was a sunny, white, window-ed space, with a kitchen facing the windows and a beautiful big bathroom.  Families passed by the windows with bags of books, professionals shook hands as they entered Sabai Sabai and a dog parked at a pedestrian's ankles.  I almost cried.  "It's perfect. I'll take it."  Credit checks, renters insurance, applications, key hand-offs, orientation meetings and packing ensued.  (As I re-read this, I realize how "factual" this part of the story is.  I have to get to the big stuff, so I can't marinate in my heart and tell you just how it felt to do what I was doing.  I was scared.  I didn't sleep much.  I missed my family awfully. I felt lonely.  But when I get "that way" I put on a brave almost smart-alec cape.  This just has to get done.  Don't think about it.  Just do it. You'll be fine.  You're a big girl.  Figure it out. Go.)  The night before my 21st birthday, August 19, I packed until I fell asleep on the carpet next to boxes.  August 19 also happened to be Andree's first official day of training in Oklahoma.  
When the sun rose it was time leave my country heaven and move to "the city", with the help of some boy muscles and a borrowed beat-up pick-up truck. The following day I shot a wedding and returned to my little home.  Lights shined outside.  I'd never fallen asleep to neon sign and street lamp night-lights before. I had a futon from hell, my twin bed, a kitchen table with one chair and lots and lots of clothes.  But it was my home. My apartment.  I had an apartment! I cried while I unpacked. There was something incredibly comforting about my new world, but it was still very very new.

My friends were feeling similarly.  "This is exciting!  God has provided! But wow, this is different." I texted Becca pictures of my key and my kitchen.  She texted me pictures of the Garth Brooks highway and cows.  I was so happy for them - oh how we'd prayed for that trip.  She was thrilled for me - God had answered prayers!  She couldn't wait to see my new place.  And I promised I'd visit her in Oklahoma…


(a few extras I came across...)
This was me headed out the door to a wedding! Not even 24 hours after i'd moved in.

And this is the dark and mismatched living room that greeted me when I came home from the wedding.
My first order of business? Stocking my kitchen! You might find it funny to note at my large sizes and quantities: the ketchups?, the peanut butter, the rice and olive oil?, the sour cream! I obviously was used to shopping for nine, not one ;)