We have been consumed by house hunting and sick kids this past week. I am exhausted, frustrated and homesick. The gym childcare thankfully reopened last week and we have been busy shopping and re-purchasing everything we got rid of in Colorado. The boys and I have been following the sales and have been buying pillows, towels, sheets, etc. Also, e-bay is used here like we use Craig’s List, so we have gotten most of our furniture through that as well as a place called Recycle World. We are pretty set to go now—just need some mattresses, sheets and another bookcase. So, that is good news. The problem is—still no place to put it, and the garage here, the boys’ only play area is getting very crowded and unsafe.
I got to go for a couple bike rides at 5:30 in the morning last week, while everyone here slept. Steve wondered why and I told him it was because another woman invited me and I would have an adult to talk to! I am so thankful Steve finished his job last Sunday, because it was a tough couple weeks for us getting to that point. On Saturday the Zumba teacher asked me if I was a single Mom. Luckily, we had things to do, and on Friday night while Steve was out with friends at a cricket match, our neighbours invited us over for pizza. Saturday afternoon, we had a 30th birthday party for a friend to go to, which was fun and a great way to spend the afternoon, but I am always aware of being the only lone parent at these events, and the same with church on Sunday morning. The boys, particularly Drew, have not been behaving well for me, embarrassing in public, and as I said, I am grateful Steve is now with us for 10 days. It is looking quite likely that he will be commuting from here for a bit when his job starts next week, which will be tiring for all of us, but we will get through it.
The rental process here is SO different than in the U.S.—-everything else is so why would this surprise me and be familiar to me? Customer service here is just not the same. If people are feeling nice and maybe take a liking to you, they can be so genuine and above and beyond helpful. But, as a rule, they don’t care. At the gym recently, I stopped at the front desk to ask a question. The woman started to help me and then took a phone call. She never looked at me again, talked to the caller for at least five minutes, leaving the desk to do so, until I finally gave up and left. When I returned after my workout, I reminded her that I had a question and she just said yeah…..So appalling and shocking!
Well, renting here is much the same. The property agents do not seem to know much about the properties, or care to find out the answers to our questions. They will not show us houses at times we request, but rather schedule inspections, at times convenient for them, open to anyone interested. Since we are moving an hour away from here, we keep making these long drives, and it is frustrating that it is so difficult to schedule a few houses to look at in one afternoon, while we are in the area. Last Tuesday, we saw two houses and the experiences were vastly different. At the first, it was already empty, very clean, minus carpet stains which surprised me, because I could never rent apartments in my previous jobs with stained carpet, and it was just a lovely house, even though the agent could not remember how much the rent was, because she had just returned from time off for the holidays—nice preparation. The next house was one of those huge inspections—there were about 30 other people besides us in there looking and that is just awkward—I cannot really tell the features of the house that I am interested in checking out, in a crowd. The place still had tenants in the process of moving out and it was absolutely filthy. The older homes here, called Queenslanders, are raised up, so you go up a flight of stairs outside to get in and then the house is all on the main level up high. Underneath most houses, the area has been turned into a storage, or lounge room, often with a second bathroom that does not really work right, and you can often only access this ‘downstairs’ area from the outsid; there is very little light and this one felt just like a dungeon.
We saw one more house that week that fell somewhere in the middle of these two, and, based on this and our online searches and drives through the towns, applied for the first house we saw. We were the first to turn in an application, and everything was looking good. We were feeling excited and kind of planning, but then we didn’t hear before the weekend, as we’d hoped. Monday morning we found out that others had applied after us, and the owner of the house looks through the qualified applicants and chooses whoever they want. That seems odd and unfair to me! It also seems like the odds are stacked against us with this process because we have two young boys, so a childless couple, or a family with older children is going to be more appealing than us because they can take care of a house better.
All of this has left me pretty upset. This week we have been making more calls and dealing with more inflexible agents very set on the time we are allowed to “inspect” the houses. We have been taking long drives and it has gotten extremely hot here—holy moly! Just constantly sweating and gross and stifling. To just top it off, poor little Zach has had a bad cough since Christmas Eve. He started to get better and we were starting to get more sleep and night but then he regressed. We finally took him to the doctor on Monday, who just confirmed what I already knew: it’s a virus he just has to wear out. But I still just don’t trust the doctors here. Staff do not ask me one single questions when I make the appointment, nobody even checks vitals, and Zach saw the same doctor that I saw recently for my thyroid—general practitioners and I just don’t like that. Oh, well……
He has not been getting the rest he needs with all our running around, both for housing searches and trying to meet friends and do fun things, and he was up most of the night last night with a fever, which is new. It is now almost 11:30 on Wednesday morning, and he is still asleep. Poor guy. He feels cool; he has not been coughing, and I think he is finally just catching up on the rest his little body needs. In between this, Drew had one night of bad coughing and now Steve has some sort of stomach issues.
So, as we all know, any frustration over housing or stuff or anything else is just compounded when you are exhausted. And, I think this heat makes me, and all of us actually, crabby as well.
We had some friends invite us over yesterday to watch the Alabama football game live, and it was very cool in one sense to know that I was actually doing the same thing as all my family members, at the same time for once! But the downside was that no one here, including the friends we were with, really cared about the game or know the sport, and then it was such a boring game, it wasn’t really the time to convert any new fans! But we had a great afternoon with them, and fun with other friends at a 3rd birthday party on Sunday, and then our fun neighbours for dinner out on Monday night. I also am touched by having about two or three offers of ‘girl’ things to do in the coming weeks. It is hard to figure out when it will work because of our move being so up in the air, but it is such a neat feeling that people are inviting me out, and I REALLY do need to get out with some women and take a break from these boys!
Other than being so tired, I really am annoyed with myself for being in such a funk. As has been the case since we arrived, friends have been so kind and generous to us with invitations and support. This is the longest I have gone now that we are approaching four months, without seeing my parents. I know at nearly 35 years old that may be pretty lame but it’s true. I hardly want to talk to them lately, because I don’t just want to cry on Skype, and in front of the boys. I love Skype but it also is feeling limiting to me lately. I will have a new phone soon with Skype on it again, which gives more flexibility, but for some reason I find myself missing good old fashioned phone calls—walking around with the phone, laying down while talking—just feels comfortable to me. I just miss it all right now—people, and the familiarity and convenience and just the good old U.S.A. This, too, shall pass…..we will be settled and rested and healthy soon!