In retrospect, moving from sunny Hawaii to gloomy Wisconsin in March probably was not the best choice. But we’d quit our jobs, given notice on our gorgeous duplex, and sad goodbye to the best landlord ever. The loan was approved and it was time to start the new life I never wanted.
After a final concert with the Hawaii Vocal Arts Ensemble and a teary aloha, we flew to Houston and enjoyed spending time with family and friends before boarding our fight to Milwaukee.
We decided to book two nights at a hotel because I did not know when our belongings would arrive. I was so tired of spending money that we opted for the cheapest hotel available. How bad could it be? So much worse than you want to know. It was freezing in that room and I got yelled at for asking for a second blanket. The room looked like it might be rented by the hour and no place seemed safe to sit. We were afraid to leave anything in the car overnight and so we lugged it inside only to find out there was no elevator. We walked up and down the stairs lugging boxes and suitcases. To make everything ever more memorable we had a coke-snorting front desk clerk.
Before checking into the hotel we stopped at our new house that we had only walked through twice way back in September. It was a horrible house buying experience including identity theft, having to come up with seven percent more for the mortgage, finding a second lender when the first one said no, rushing to get early social security, and doing everything remotely.
Today is the six-year anniversary of the first night we slept at 521 Otter Ave. Before going to the hotel we got the house key from my son and did a quick stop to see the house we had chosen months before. We had parsed and parsed and came up with what we thought we’d need and hired a moving company with great reviews. That’s another post for another day, but it was a disaster from day one and though our goods arrived, the contract workers hired to unload the truck never showed up. There was so much breakage, loss, and theft.
Gary fiddled with the antique-looking thermostat and we drove to what I now know is not the worst hotel in Oshkosh. The next day we tried with limited success to buy blankets, clothing, and boots. We kept getting told they only had spring merchandise on the shelves. We went back to the slum hotel for night two. Night three we slept in our own home.
Amazon was exactly on time with the mattress we had ordered and, miraculously, Spectrum arrived early to install the internet and cable. Our house was freezing! Turns out Gary had accidentally turned the thermostat off. The first night we slept there it was 44 degrees.
After going through box after box and setting the unbroken items aside, we learned you can’t run the dishwasher and washing machine at the same time. Did I mention it was windy? It was the windiest March in forever, broke all kinds of records, and tractor trailers went rolling down the highways. Our chimney cap fell to the ground thanks to the intense wind. When Gary went down to the cellar to get the power back on, the Dorothy door banged open and the hinges snapped and the door tumbled around the yard. I slept in summer clothes huddled under not enough blankets and cried. I am not a crier, but I wept and I sobbed and I railed and then cried myself to sleep. I wanted nothing more than to drive back to Milwaukee and get on a plane and go home to Hawaii.
Moving is hard. Moving with a level ten migraines and a fear of driving is even more difficult. Roundabouts are still evil. And snow. Yes, it does snow in March and into April.
The first few months I had daily fights with the moving company. We found a contractor to upgrade some of the electrical issues and by the end of that first year we had new windows in our 1875 house, a driveway and a back walkway, a furnace, insulation, ceiling fans, and a new washer and dryer.
It’s been six years of finding people who get me, learning where to shop and eat, decorating, finding out what I don’t know, and trying to carve out a life in a place that was just a name of a clothing company before my son and his family moved here.
I joined a book club, found a place to sing, have walked miles and miles and miles, adopted a dog, learned a lot about being a dog mom, have enjoyed my family, and missed something about Hawaii every single day.
People ask do I like living in Wisconsin. I like being near family. I love our home. Coconut is a joy. I like the greater number of concerts and plays. Not that I can afford to go as often as I’d like, but they are at least an option. I like the unique-to-me architecture, the character homes, the resale and consignment shops, and beautiful church buildings.
So there we go. Happy Anniversary to us in Oshkosh.