Moving on

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Northport, Alabama

It’s really happening.

I’ve postponed packing my boxes as long as I can, but with only two weeks remaining it is time to accept the fact that I am moving on to a new place — well, new in a manner of speaking anyway.

It has been a roller-coaster ride of emotion.

We saw houses with floors so sloped that the refrigerator had to be taped shut to keep from spilling the contents. We saw houses with holes in the wall and ceiling. A man was shot to death last week on the street of our most serious contender. Another house, located in a cemetery, fell through just as soon as I started to dream a little.

We saw houses that were as much as $1200 a month. We saw houses that required deposits equal to the first month’s rent. We saw houses that purported to be fine homes, but didn’t allow pets. What kind of home would it be without my kitties?

In the end, it was the kitties that led us to a new house.

A few weeks ago, I had stopped outside a house to talk to a pretty tabby on the porch that looked like Boogie. His owner came out and said his name was “Booger.” We talked for a while and she mentioned that she had a house available for rent. At the time, we weren’t looking for a place, but we like to look at old houses so we walked over with her to check it out.

I was turned off by the smell immediately. I couldn’t pinpoint it, but it smelled very sour, old, dank. I barely gave the rooms much consideration because I was so disturbed. The lady was nice, and I found myself wishing I could like the house. But we weren’t looking anyway, so it didn’t matter.

Then suddenly we were moving after all. We trudged from house to house before choosing a quaint little gray Craftsman-style bungalow. We liked it just a little, but then the owners decided not to move and I was scrambling to find something else. Anything. So I decided to go back and take another look at this house. The price was right, and our kitties were welcome. The landlords have eight cats themselves. I gave the rooms a cursory glance. No holes in the walls or ceiling. No sloping floors or nasty carpet. It had a front porch and a little bit of a yard. There were plenty of windows, and the neighborhood was fairly decent, with a magazine editor and a university professor flanking either side of the house.

Unlike the other houses I had looked at, I didn’t solicit the advice of friends on this one. I just said we’d take it. Right away. No hesitation. I’m not even sure if I asked Nicholas.

It is old, built in 1920 for one of our city’s preachers. The walls and ceilings are the original tongue and groove, and the windows are the original double-hung four-over-four style popular during that time period. It is a house of 10,000 doors and one very dark, narrow closet. There is no dishwasher but there is a claw foot tub. There is no garbage disposal but there is a real mailbox outside.

Tentatively, I am starting to let myself dream a little, envisioning paint colors and furniture placement. I will need to buy a stove and an armoire. I will probably want new blinds and curtains. There is a lot of cleaning to be done, and I am a bit overwhelmed by the amount of renovation I will be tackling.

No matter. It is a house with four walls and a ceiling. It is still downtown — only two turns, two-tenths of a mile, and 27 seconds away from our current location.

We’ll make it work.

I have posted pictures over at Flickr for anyone who is interested. You can view the set here.

In time, we will make new memories in this house. We will carve jack-o’lanterns and decorate Christmas trees. There will be laughter and tears and friends coming over and new neighbors to meet. In time, it will feel like home.

And not a moment too soon either.

Music: Trouble Sleeping by The Perishers (lyrics)

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