Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Update: Day 163

So I have been told recently that I need to do an update.  I will touch on the blessings over the past few months at the end of the blog instead of the beginning.  It has been hard to continue to look at the positive side of this situation over the past few months.  This is in part due to how things progressed.  It has also been difficult to post blogs when we did not have regular internet connections or know where we were staying that day.  I will discuss this in the July portion of this post.  I am not sure if I ever explained that Josh and I decided to wait to make any major decisions.  This has been a blessing and a curse.  I will explain this later when I talk about September. 

Here is how the past few months progressed.

June ended and things stayed the same for the most part.  We stayed with our friends another few weeks.  I was offered another job which was very flattering to turn down two positions in one months time.  I saw a counselor for a couple sessions to make sure that I am coping adequately.

When July came, life became more difficult.  After staying with our friend for over a month, we started to feel as though we were over staying our welcome.  I think we were there for five or six weeks.  We found an apartment, but due to extenuating circumstances our move-in date was pushed back several times.  We thought we would move-in by the beginning on July and then it was pushed back to the middle of July.  After this happened several times, we began to lose hope.  The feeling of home was starting to wear on my mental health.  I started to feel homeless and hopeless.  Thankfully we have wonderful friends.  Josh's best friend from college offered to host us indefinitely immediately after the storm.  We declined at that point because we had things to do in Joplin.  After some discussion, we decided to move.  It was the easiest move we have ever done.  It took two trips with two cars.  The first trip was to the barn where we were storing our stuff.  The second was to one of Josh's coworkers.  We stayed with them for one night as we transitioned to Texas.  We then went to Texas for two weeks.  It was really nice to be in a large city again.  We went to museums, movies, played games, ate at really good restaurants, and just tried to enjoy ourselves. 

We had several bad experiences in July.  The most influential one was feeling like a criminal when we went to a distribution center.  This is something that I struggled with from the beginning.  I do not like asking for help.  I do not like sitting on the other side of the table from the social worker.  (I need to get over this.)  After the horrific experience at the last distribution center we went to, Josh and I never went back.  Our church started a program called "Adopt a Family".  This program enables people who want to fill specific needs for families to do so.  It also has cut down on all the excess that was donated to the Joplin area.  This is a blessing, but we opted out since we know that there are more needy people in the area.  We also were in such limbo that it was difficult to identify a need for any specific item.  While in Houston, we were notified that our house debris was quarantined due to asbestos.  Our debris was the only one on the block that was marked.  Mind you, our entire neighborhood had asbestos siding.  Our contractor said that he would take care of this and was keeping us apprised of the progress.  The same day I found out that we were required to remove our tree.  It made me sad to realize that the next person who lived at our address would not have our tree. 

August came and things started to get better.  First of all, we moved in on August 1st and then went on "vacation".  Josh got to go to GenCon and play boardgames.  When we came back we got to settle into our apartment.  I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned.  Even after all the help we had from friends with cleaning, we still had lots to clean.  I got down to two boxes and ran out of creative ways to store items.  The best part about August was I finally got to go shopping and not feel useless.  Both Macy's and Bed Bath and Beyond provided Joplin tornado survivors with twenty percent off purchases thru a particular date.  I have since purchased a lot at these stores.  (Kudos to the marketing team who thought of that.) 

I struggled through August somewhat as it is just hard to put into words the feeling of loss.  Don't get me wrong, it was incredibly satisfying to have a place of our own again.  The feeling of relief was overwhelming.  The struggle I experienced was moving on.  To explain, our house was in the center of Joplin.  We were five minutes from my husband's work, five minutes to the grocery store, five minutes from the any big box store, five minutes from the bank, fifteen from church...I think you get the drift of what I am saying.  We were close to everything.  The problems I am experiencing correlate to this.  We are now living twenty-five minutes out of town (e.g. Joplin).  It is the closest, easiest, and most affordable housing we could find.  On top of not having a home, I no longer have my grocery store or big box store and so nothing is familiar to me.  It takes me forever to find anything when I go shopping; plus, I am not thinking straight still so it takes me even longer.  It is amazing what stress does to a person's mind.  I also miss the familiarity of our surroundings.  Our street was a standard street, but it was our street.  It had large trees and friendly neighbors.  It was pretty.  It is not anymore.  So the short of the matter is I am not adapting well. 

(  This link is to The New York Times Site.  They did a panoramic view of our street to show before and after.  Our intersection is 24th and Pennsylvania and you can drag the map to see our house.  We spoke with the gentleman that took these photos after we spoke with our insurance adjustor one day.)

Our land was finally cleared and we were done with clean up.  We were able to sell our property to a development firm in Joplin that is locally owned and operated.  It was incredibly freeing, but it was also hard to know that we were never going to live there again.  

September was a continuation of August.  My days ran together because I am not working.  I do not have a routine.  I chose this, remember those two jobs.  I made a conscience decision to not work.  I knew that Josh and I would be moving soon and did not want to start a job and then promptly quit after a short amount of time.  I thought about working retail or food, but I am not handling my own stress well.  I am staying busy by occasionally working as a volunteer at hospice and keeping in touch with friends.  I felt incredibly useless.  I am not working, I do not have children, I am a recent post graduate, and yet I am sitting at home.  These feelings are entirely self-imposed.  Josh is incredibly encouraging and supportive and to be fair I have worked on lots of planning for our move.  That's right, but let me get back to September. 

At the beginning of September, Josh and I decided to start scouting other places to live.  We already discussed options, but the most prominent one was Philadelphia.  I have never been to Philadelphia and so we planned a trip.  Josh celebrated his twenty-ninth birthday on the Thirteenth and we had a big party to celebrate.  I contacted several people in Philadelphia to prepare for our trip.  I spoke back and forth with a realtor about potential properties and narrowed down a list of potential places to see when we were there.  It was both exciting and incredibly stressful. 

We left the second week in October and started the process.  The first thing to do was tour the city.  I realized that there is a huge difference in seeing the city from a tourist perspective and a potential place to live.  Instead of looking at the monuments and museums, you look for grocery stores and proximity to public transit.  I walked around the city all day.  I got lost.  I went back to the house we were staying at.  I then went to see apartments the second day.  It was incredibly disheartening.  I found one to show Josh later in the week after seeing eight different properties.  Then Wednesday came and I went out again.  And it was again disappointing.  I thought that maybe this was not what God had planned for us.  I had prayed and asked God that He would make this decision incredibly easy for us and that we would not have any question about what He wanted for us.  At this time, I had immense apprehension about this decision.  On Thursday, Josh came with me and we decided to look in New Jersey and see if we could find anything on this side of the river.  We found a few things, but none of it was what we really wanted.  In the afternoon, we met with our realtor and saw six properties.  By the end of the day Josh and I narrowed our search to two potentials.  The first was a 1400 sq. foot two bedroom/ two bathroom apartment in a very nice part of Center City--a neighborhood in Philadelphia.  The downsides were that it was at the top of our price range, included no utilities, did not have laundry in the unit, and there was no parking anywhere nearby.  The second was a 1000 sq foot one bedroom/ one bathroom apartment two blocks from the federal park in Center City.  This one has all utilities included, parking on-site, laundry in the unit, and is the exact price point we were originally looking for.  So we signed a lease after some stress and sent off lots of money.  We move-in on December 15th. 

October has been a whirlwind.  We got back and I immediately unpacked our last two tornado boxes.  I am tired of finding "tornado" in my stuff.  (There is this stuff that is left behind after a tornado that covers everything.  It is like silt, but the particles imbed themselves into every crevice imaginable.  I still put my hands in pockets and have to clean out my fingernails because I find more "tornado".  It has become infuriating.)  I started to figure out what we needed, wanted, and had to order before we move so that we could use our discounts.  I also started to sort and throw away things that we do not need.  It is sort of like getting married.  You get all this new stuff and have old crappy stuff that you don't want, but you can't use the new stuff until you move-in or get married so it sits stored in boxes.  I have an entire closet of new shiny items that I have not touched because we are moving. 

While this is incredibly exciting it is also incredibly sad.  We are linked to Joplin.  I do not mean we lived here, but we are written in the ground.  We are tied to this place and over the past few months, we have been broken and lifted up here.  It is going to be hard to leave.  I have cried with friends over this already and it is still six weeks until we leave.  I do not want to say goodbye, but I know that the inevitable is coming.

It is now November and I have become depressed.  The holidays are coming and I realized that I will not have much of a Christmas this year.  We are moving nine days before Christmas and I am not sure that we will have furniture by that time.  I will not have a tree or wreath.  It makes my heart sink just writing this.  I keep trying to remember that the best part will be that I have a home and we are moving forward.  Please pray for this as I continue to struggle through.

Now for the blessings!!! 
  • I am truly blessed to have a wonderful, strong husband who is incredibly supportive.  He is more than I could have asked or imagined.  
  • Josh and I have continued to depend on and support one another.  
  • We are moving!!!  
  • We have terrific friends who have helped us through this time.  I am incredibly thankful for each one of them and cannot imagine what life will be like without them when we move.  
  • Our family has continued to be a fantastic support.  I am anxious about seeing them all.  
  • We have a new nephew!!!  
  • We are alive and do not have nightmares about the storm.   
  • I have been able to work on putting our lives back in order instead of being employed.   
  • We have been able to be generous with our money.  
  • The companies in Joplin have been very generous with us over the past few months.  
  • We had insurance to cover the loss and damages of our house and belongings.  
  • We have the ability to be patient and wait.  
  • We have coped relatively well through all this. 
  • God has continued to provide and hold us in His protective hand throughout all this difficulty.
These are the big ones...there are many more but I am trying to keep this brief.

I will try to continue updates on a weekly basis from now on as life has settled down quite a bit.  Yay!

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