June 04, 2011

It's all coming together... except for the loose ends

A week ago I was propping my eyes open with toothpicks (ok, with caffeine fumes), recovering from the nightmarish whirlwind that was our first house-hunting trip to Dallas. I say first because we’ll have to go back this week. I say nightmarish because of the REASON we have to go back next week.
Tornadoes. That’s what it all comes down to. As in, touching DOWN TO the ground in Dallas, Texas. Six of them. Not even comparable to the Missouri and Oklahoma horrors of this spring, but still… tornadoes, right there in the middle of my new home town.

Our plane was supposed to take off at 7:45 Tuesday morning but was cancelled, bumping us to the 4:45 pm flight. We arrived at 2:30 pm to make sure we had plenty of time to get through security with little ten month old Jack in the mix. Turns out we did, indeed, have buckets of time since our plane didn’t take off until after 7 pm. At that point, it seemed that the big storm system through the South had boiled itself out, leaving us a clear flight path.

That’s the thing with big crazy Southern storm systems though. They have to knack for popping up in waves, invisible from shore until the start rolling up the beachfront. By the time we reached Dallas another front was whipping around the city (did I mention the six tornadoes?). Calmly pretending all was well, our captain circled the airport for almost two hours, announcing occasionally in deceptively peaceful tones that he was sure we’d get clearance any minute. Then he pleasantly mentioned that we’d be diverting to Abilene since we were running out of fuel. Sure it’ll just be a quick stop. Back in the air and settled within an hour.

We spent the night at Abilene airport. After three hours sitting on the tarmac, they finally admitted that DFW was closed, all flights were diverted or cancelled and we wouldn’t be able to head back out until 11 am the next day. Sorry, folks.

Oh, and by the way, there’s something wrong with the plane’s starter. We need a guy with a screw driver to head on out and turn it on manually, but we’re positive it won’t be a problem in the morning. Sleep tight!

My son, my ten month old darling baby boy, was amazing. With a calm that put all the screaming, cursing adult passengers to shame, he made giggle faces at his reflection in the windows and slept peacefully in his car seat (they brought all our stuff off the plane) as if he were tucked in his very own bed. Hysterical business-types shouted about law suits at unfortunate American Airlines customer service reps but my baby boy just crawled around the conference room where we’d camped with the other two families with kids. He pulled on cords and scooted underneath office chairs.

We finally arrived in Dallas at about 2 pm Wednesday, approximately 24 hours from our starting time the previous day. We lost two days to the storm (and the tornadoes, in case I forgot to mention the tornadoes), leaving us with an exhausting marathon of house-hunting from Thursday morning to Friday afternoon. We literally left straight from our last house, grabbed a quick lunch and skidded into the airport about 20 minutes before boarding.

We found nothing. Well, not nothing exactly, but nothing concrete. We still don’t know what neighborhood we want, what school is best, which house would be ideal, and so on. Part of the trick with Dallas is that there’s no simple equation to minimize a commute time, regardless of where you live. Farther out you often end up with the same drive time you’d find travelling from closer in, based on traffic knots in certain areas.

And there are SO MANY areas. Seriously, the city is huge (4th largest city in the country, did ya know it?). So many beautiful places, thousands of houses, hundreds of schools, not enough time, not enough time, not enough time.

We head back on Monday, with hopefully less tornadoes diverting our path (though it must be said the staff at the Abilene Airport were beyond gracious, kind and helpful, especially in the face of some of the nastier passengers). But even with the extra three days Kurt’s company has donated, we still won’t have enough time to make such a big decision as where to plant our roots (and our money) in a city so full of possibilities and potential. So we’ll spend this trip picking a rental house in a place we THINK will work out. Call it a test drive. We’ll have time now to actually look through houses, to explore the bazillion little neighborhoods, to learn how to navigate the maze of highways and byways (Kurt was so excited to buy a GPS). In a year, Dallas will be home and we can easily judge where to put our feet up and stay awhile.

For the moment, it’s all chaos over here; basically, we don't know anything we'll be doing or when we'll be doing it until a few days before it's about to happen. It’s nerve-wracking. The children are out of school, bored to tears and tantrums and totally unaware of the big picture changes coming right at them. Kurt is refinishing the deck and scraping paint and staining doors and all sorts of other handy things.

And I? Well, I’m watching the kids. A noble calling in a busy time, but it doesn’t feel very satisfying. Between naps, playdates, errands and time-outs, I’m starting to sort through things. I’m trying to get in all my good-byes. And sometimes, I’m trying not to cry. I want to leave now, just to be done with this part of it. I’m excited and hopeful and very happy we have this amazing opportunity. But with the decisions made, this whole production has gone into a sort of auto-pilot and I’m just being carried along for the ride. There’s no real action for me to take except hold on tight.

Our little detour to Abilene has taken on an increasingly mythical and zen symbolism for me. Sure, it was totally inconvenient. And yeah, the coffee was no good. But we had a place to sleep and kind people trying to make it as comfortable as possible. There was nothing we could do, nowhere else to go. It happened and we could only happen along with it.

And the children took it all in a stride. There’s a lesson to be learned here, people. Screaming at the phone rep is only going to leave you exhausted and hung up on. In helpless situations, take your cue from the babies. Just go with it.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Love this. I mean aside from the tornadoes and craziness of a move & all but you're right....there so choice in moving just a choice in how you handle the whole experience - bumps & bruises & victories. That's what I've learned. As long as you are all safe, healthy & most of the time happy that's what matters. And speaking for experience from this past year, its totally a good idea to rent first till you can get your bearings and get the lay of the land before you really commit to buying something.

I can't wait to catch up on all of your adventures! Have a fun and safe trip next week!!