Note: This is part four of a series about our family lifestyle change and move from the coast of California to the country of North Carolina. In case you missed parts one, two, or three, I’ve linked them here.
Was it hard to leave the place I called home for forty years? Where I met my husband, where we were married, where we bought our first house, and where both our children were born?
Yes, without a doubt, it was hard. We were leaving the only ‘home’ we had ever known as a family. However, on the horizon was the lifestyle change that we had been longing for, had talked and dreamt about for quite some time.
The life that we were living in California felt like it was missing something. Or, maybe it wasn’t that it was missing something, but there were things we wanted to add to our lives that living in California couldn’t offer. Knowing what was waiting for us in North Carolina made leaving California a little easier.
When we returned to California after that summer trip to North Carolina, the relocation wheels began spinning. We made an offer on the farmhouse that was accepted, we shared our decision with family and friends, we listed our house for sale, and we began packing. Of course we also had the obligatory moving sale where you negotiate the prices of all your worldly possessions down to a dollar with strangers and then wonder why you bothered having the sale in the first place… But, I digress.
We bought the farmhouse about nine months before we planned on moving. It was important for us to have the kids finish out the school year in California with their friends. They were completing their middle school and elementary school years and we felt that as these chapters closed, it was perfect timing to start their new high school and middle school chapters in North Carolina. They were excited about it too.
During the nine months between the time we bought the farmhouse and when we moved, we had it remodeled. Although it was challenging to do from across the miles, it was also tons of fun. I flew back to North Carolina several times during that period to check on the progress of the work. Thankfully, we had a wonderful contractor and project manager to help us get all the work done prior to our move-in date.
I was in hog heaven during the remodel! To some people making structural and interior design decisions is daunting, but for me, it was a dream come true. I channeled my inner Joanna Gaines and had so much fun putting my stamp on our forever-home. Once the work was complete, I was more excited than ever to move in.
I will admit, our last few days in California were very strange. It was surreal doing all the things, “one last time.” Going to watch the sunset at “our beach”… one last time, eating at our favorite restaurants… one last time, and seeing friends and family… one last time. Those goodbyes were the toughest of my life. I was so sad and excited all at the same time.
When “the big day” arrived, we woke up in our virtually empty house to a giant moving van outside our home. I remember the lump in my throat.
This was it. Once we let the movers in, a well-organized packing tornado went through the house. It was shocking how quickly all our worldly possessions (with tons of memories to them) were put into the giant rectangular prism on wheels.My head was spinning that day! It was as if our boxes and furniture had now become Jenga pieces and the precision in which the movers placed them to optimize every square inch of the trailer was awe-inspiring. I lost count of the number of times my eyes welled up as boxes got whisked out of the house in record time.
After several hours of loading, the van was packed, and the papers were signed. As I watched the moving van pull away from our home in California I broke down in tears. The emotions I felt were so overwhelming.
On one hand, I was incredibly sad to be leaving California, the only place I’d ever called ‘home.’ There were so many wonderful memories I had of this place, especially since meeting my husband and having our babies. On the other hand, I was tremendously excited (and slightly nervous) to get to North Carolina and start our new adventure as a family in the new place that we would now call ‘home.’
With the truck on the road, it was time for us to say goodbye to family and friends and head east. You can imagine how difficult that was, I’ll spare you the details. Tears, tears, and more tears… That about sums it up.
Confession time: I am not a fan of road trips. There I said it. I feel like I’m in the minority, but honestly y’all, I am an optimizer of time. I feel like if there are several ways to get to a place, it just makes the most sense to get there as quickly as possible. Staring down a highway for hours, feeling like I’m on a treadmill going nowhere, is just frustrating to me. My panties get in such a bunch thinking about the amount of time we could have saved by taking a quicker route to a destination. Anyway…
Originally, we planned to fly from California to North Carolina as a family when we moved. However, a wrench was thrown into our plan. Due to our move being in the middle of summer, the airlines would not let our Pugs, Frank and Beanz fly because of the heat. Therefore, we had to come up with a Plan B. Of course my husband’s Plan B was that we all drive across the country together with Frank and Beanz.
Cue my hysterical laughter. That was probably the worst idea I had ever heard him come up with in our fifteen years of marriage. As my daughter immediately dismissed that idea, “No way!” (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.) Our son jumped off his chair at the same time and exclaimed, “Yessss!!!!!” I just sat there and shot daggers at my husband with my eyes.
It was decided, after much discussion, that the boys (and Beanz) would road trip across the country over the span of about five days. Meanwhile, the girls (AKA the Smart Ones) would stay with grandma and grandpa (my parents) a few days and then fly to meet up with the boys on the east coast. It was the perfect plan… Probably because it was my plan.
As opposed to our uneventful flights east, the boys have endless stories about their road trip. It was a true adventure. I hope to get them to sit down one day and share their cross country road trip stories with you here because many of them are legendary. I cannot tell you how many meals we’ve eaten around the dinner table where their crazy stories and antics have been shared. Major belly laughs. These stories warm my heart. I’m so happy they have those memories to cherish, just the two of them (and Frank and Beanz), forever. Once we all left California, the plan was to meet up in Tennessee. It was the week of the 4th of July and we were invited by friends to spend the holiday with them. We would spend the holiday week there relaxing and unwinding a bit before the craziness of unpacking and settling in started at our new house. From Tennessee, the four of us planned to drive to North Carolina together. Yes, I conceded this time and drove. It was very important to me that we all arrived at the farmhouse together for the first time now that it was home.Our time in Tennessee was wonderful and relaxing. After the hectic months, weeks, and days leading up to the move, this downtime and the chance to reconnect as a family was just what we needed. I had recovered from the sadness of leaving California and now I was in full-force excitement mode.
It was time to leave Tennessee and I could not get to North Carolina fast enough. Oh wait! Yes I could have, I could have flown, but I won’t get on that soapbox again… We packed up the car (including Frank and Beanz) and headed east to Wilmington. Gosh, that drive was long! Not only in mileage, but I was so anxious to arrive to our new home, I could hardly stand it. You see, there was quite the surprise we had waiting for us there and I was giddy with excitement for the kids to see it. My husband and I thought it would be fun to leave out a lot of the farmhouse remodeling details when it came to the kids. Sure, they knew their rooms would be painted in the colors we let them choose and they knew we were having the floors redone, but the scope of work we were having done to the farmhouse (which was tremendous), was a surprise to them.
THIS is why it was so important to me that we all arrived at the house together and why I agreed to the road trip from Tennessee to North Carolina. I was so anxious to see their reactions to all of it!
As we turned down the driveway to our new farmhouse, elation is the only word that comes to mind. I was so excited that after years of talking about this dream and months of planning, our dream had finally come true. The home I was looking at was our forever home. This was a new chapter in all our lives. Little did I know at the time what kind of adventures that this little farm had in store us.
The car stopped, the kids jumped out, and our new journey in North Carolina began.