In my last post about a month ago, I wrote, “It’s amazing how much can change in a month.”
Back then I was referring to the upheaval in our lives as Handan started working in a new city and I embarked on the epic quest to sell our house.
Boy, how I wish I had saved that sentence for this post, because JEEZUM CROW, it’s amazing how much can change in a month!
Yeesh, talk about prophetic sentences!
It’s been far too long since we’ve gathered for a nice yap, madam, but lemme tell you upfront, I won’t be yapping about the subject that has doubtless had you glued to your television and computer screen for the last two weeks.
You’ve had more than your fill of that, I’ll wager.
So have we.
So let’s talk about something nicer then, shall we?
Because she said yes!
I can hear you now: what WHAT?!? I thought there were already married?!?
Well, duh, of course we are! And no, I didn’t do some sort of hokey vow renewal or some such. I don’t think we’ve been married long enough for that.
Nope, the “she” in that sentence does not refer to my babes.
But let’s put that on the back burner for a moment so I can get you caught up on just what the heck has been happening at The Navage Patch for the past couple of months.
I hinted where Handan was living in my last post with a single picture. I figured it was sufficiently random that though some might have a guess, no one would know for sure.
Welp, I was wrong. I underestimated you lot of sparkling geniuses!
Handan is in Atlanta, and soon, The Navage Patch will be, too!
She started her new position back in early February, but before I brought her down here, we ordered the first of what would become four POD moving containers.
Together, we worked tirelessly to fill that sucker.
I wish we took more packing pics, but really it was just a lot of grunt work. Handan did manage to snap one of me dismantling our dining room table.
Just one of the thousand little things that go into a move.
We packed the first container so tight, we didn’t need to use any straps or bungees until the end.
Hey, what’s that in there?
Yep, just my babes, crawling among the boxes to fit everything perfectly!
We packed until there was just enough room for a couple of mattresses to keep our stuff from falling back against the door during transit.
They hauled that POD away and delivered another the next day. The weather had been unseasonably warm, but then it turned bitterly cold. We managed to fill about half of the second container before it was time for Handan and I to jump in the car and head south.
It was 5 degrees when we left for Atlanta.
By the time we hit Pennsylvania, the weather had warmed considerably. We stopped near a Poconos ski resort to grab some Starbucks and gas before continuing our journey.
We called it quits that first day after about 600 miles and stopped for the night in Roanoke, Virginia. I pulled into a Clarion Comfort Inn and hopped out to secure lodging for the night.
There was an Indian couple ahead of me at the front desk. The Indian man working behind the desk asked where they were from, and it turned out they had all lived in the same city for a time.
When it was my turn, I mentioned to him that we had lived in Gurgaon back in 2012.
Turns out, Gurgaon (now called Gurugram) is where he grew up.
We arrived in Atlanta the following afternoon and spent two nights in a hotel near the airport. During those first couple of days, I finalized a short-term lease for a studio apartment in north Atlanta.
Handan didn’t need much space, and anyway I was planning to sell our house and get back down there to buy a house as soon as possible.
After a week, I bade my babes farewell and pointed the car north.
I had a lot of work to do.
My first order of business was to move Baris in with my parents. They live in the same town, so all I needed to do was switch his bus.
I stayed back at The Navage Patch with Penny and Pepper.
And then the grunt work started.
For 10 days, I packed and pushed and pulled and lugged our crap from all corners of our house out into those infernal POD containers.
We had started to work with a realtor, and our house would go on the market as soon as I could get it clean enough to show. There was no way I’d be able to get the basement and garage cleared in time, but my realtors assured me that the house would sell anyway.
I had returned from Atlanta on a Sunday night and started packing the next Monday.
My workday started at 6:30, when I would wake up and call Handan. She had an alarm clock, but I didn’t trust it or her.
When I was satisfied she was fully awake, I’d make coffee and start packing. From morning until evening, each day was a blur of coffee, chocolate chip energy bars and screaming knees. By 5, I was spent. I’d pour a martini, throw two Stouffer’s French Bread Pizzas in the oven (they were a childhood favorite) and then I’d collapse onto the remaining sofa to watch documentaries until sleep stole my sight.
Handan never liked to watch documentaries with me, so I used our time apart to watch some great ones on sailing and power lifters.
Ten days later, the house (except for the basement and garage) was cleared and cleaned and ready for photographs. Our realtors had a photographer booked.
But then they saw some of the pics I had taken for the blog, and they hinted that maybe I should take the pics.
This was too important a job to screw up, so I gladly accepted the offer.
Our listing went live that same day.
Here’s The Navage Patch as you’ve never seen it before:
Finally got the clean kitchen I’d always dreamed of!
I was proud of all the stuff I’d packed, but I was also a little sad and nostalgic.
We’d put so much into this house.
But time moves on. It’s time for it to go to a new family.
The house showings went well, but we were waiting for the right offer.
After that first weekend the house was on the market, I really started to miss Handan.
Fortunately, I had a good excuse to get down to Atlanta to see her.
During my first trip to drop her off, we decided to buy a car there.
For six years, we were a one car family. But that wasn’t going to cut it anymore.
So while she was at work one day, I went to a Mazda dealership and got her a new ride.
The only problem was that I didn’t have a Georgia license (nor had I brought the necessary documents with me to get one), so the dealer couldn’t give me temporary plates.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way, so they slapped some dealer plates on her car and told me to get that Georgia licence ASAP.
After putting the house on the market, I finally had the opportunity to get back down to Atlanta, get a GA license, and get the license plate issue sorted.
I booked a flight down there on a Tuesday, with a return flight on Thursday evening.
I took off from Bradley International Airport and headed south to see my babes!
While in Atlanta, we received a couple of offers for our house.
The negotiations began.
During the back and forth, I got my Georgia drivers license and sorted out the plates for Handan’s car.
We kept our fingers crossed to sign a contract on our house that Wednesday, but the day slipped away without a deal.
Thursday’s negotiations were tense, and the day seemed like it would be squandered like Wednesday.
Thursday afternoon, I stopped off at the Starbucks near Handan’s apartment. There is a bulletin board near the pickup area with Post-It notes and a pen. People leave messages for others to read.
One in particular caught my eye:
I filed it into memory, then made my way down to Handan’s office with her car so she could then take me to the airport.
With heavy hearts, we headed to my terminal on Thursday evening. I told Handan all would work out in the end, but did I really believe it myself?
Plus the thing that had been simmering for over a month – the thing that was starting to spread like unseen wildfire – had just exploded in the public consciousness.
I was worried.
But I swallowed my fears and put on a good face for Handan as she dropped me at the terminal.
We said our goodbyes and I headed inside.
Not 60 seconds later, my phone vibrated.
I check the text. It was from our realtors.
We had a deal.
I immediately called Handan to tell her the good news. This was the news we were hoping to celebrate together, but we missed it by one minute!
Who cares! We had a deal!
Our agents worked frantically to get the paperwork together that night. I wanted the peace of mind of having ink on paper that very day.
As I worked my way towards the gate, I was struck by how empty the security checkpoint was at the airport.
Atlanta’s Jackson-Hartsfield Airport is the busiest in the world, and its security checkpoint is a cavernous room that would normally be packed with people in winding, back-and-forth lines.
It was empty.
I wound my way through the cordoned lanes with only one man in front of me.
We exchanged glances, and I commented that everyone must be getting really scared.
But what the checkpoint lacked in human bodies, the concourses and bars made up for. Took me a solid 15 minute back and forth walk through the concourse to find an open bar seat at a sushi restaurant.
I was in high spirits as I enjoyed a whisky and some sushi, elbow-to-elbow with my fellow travelers. Social distancing hadn’t filtered down to airport bars yet.
Outside the airport gates, news of the first school closures was hitting the wires, and the country descended into panic.
Meanwhile, our flight was a little more crowded than I would have liked with an unseen enemy lurking in god-knows-how-many sniffling noses and coughing mouths.
I sat in the very last row. I chose the seat thinking it would ensure me some space to stretch out.
I was wrong. Two travelers decided to share my space. They were first time fliers. What a time to start!
My flight would take me to Baltimore for a brief layover before getting in to Hartford just before midnight.
We didn’t have a signed contract yet, and I was losing hope we’d have one that day.
But as I landed in Baltimore, things started to move on that front.
Through the marvel of modern technology and in-flight WiFi, I was able to receive the email from our agents just before 11 pm as my flight soared over Chesapeake Bay. Handan and I signed, and our house was officially under contract!
I landed to a different world.
While I was in the air, our schools had closed, too.
But we were under contract, and that meant we could begin our search for our new home in the Atlanta area.
We knew we wanted to look in the towns northeast of the city, and Handan spent that first weekend looking at several properties.
Houses were selling like hotcakes at a griddle expo.
It didn’t make any sense!
The world was supposedly melting down around us, but folks were lobbing offers at houses like World War II infantrymen lobbing grenades at enemy foxholes.
It became evident that Handan couldn’t do it alone.
Not while still working a full time job.
Things in Atlanta are s p r e a d o u t, and to make matters worse, there’s the traffic you’ve all heard about.
Yep, it’s real.
Yep, it sucks.
But my babes doesn’t mind! She lived in Istanbul in her Young Lady Years, (Yeesh, where the hell have those gone? Crap! She heard me! RUN!) and she had to endure a two-hour commute each way, so the prospect of a 60-90 minute commute doesn’t faze her in the least.
But that traffic made it hard for her to work until 5 at the airport and then drive for an hour or more to look at houses.
She needed help.
And I was just the sort of fella willing to travel during a national freakout to help her.
I would have hopped on a plane in a heartbeat. I’m rather more blasé about national crises than Handan is.
But she wouldn’t hear of it. She wanted me to drive.
Hey, I’m no stranger to long drives. I’ve crossed this country three times by car and once on a motorcycle.
If my babes wanted me to drive to Atlanta, my babes was gonna get me driving to Atlanta.
I’m no dummy!
So I loaded the car with enough clothes for…for what? The country seemed to be teetering on the verge of lockdown.
How long would I be there if they shut the whole damn thing down?
I eyeballed my underwear collection and snatched up a few more.
Better safe than without underwear.
So the day of my departure (this would be just last Wednesday, if you’re reading this post right away) was an interesting day.
For starters, I ate a huge bowl of cereal.
Yeah, yeah, I know, big whoop, right?
But, madam, I don’t drink a lot of milk, and sometimes it refuses to play nicely on its way through my digestive tract.
I packed up the car to go, but something pulled me back inside. Remember – at this point I was living at my parents’ house with Baris.
The day before, I had returned to our house to empty the medicine cabinet and to pack Handan’s jade elephant collection.
She had wanted them to watch over the house while it was being shown to prospective buyers.
Now that the house was under contract, I felt I could remove them.
So anyway, the elephants and the contents of our medicine cabinet were in a small cardboard box on my mom’s dining room table.
On a whim, I grabbed that box and loaded it into the car. I reasoned that Handan might want her fragile elephants, and besides, the box contained some valuable items: hand sanitizer that I had bought back in January when I first started reading the news out of China and rubbing alcohol, which may as well be liquid gold.
As I headed out to toss this box in the back of the car, my mom offered a box of tissues.
Yeah, why not? Never know when the old beak will start leaking.
So off I went with a heart full of longing and a tummy full of milk.
I made it all the way to Pennsylvania before the need for coffee forced me to leave the interstate.
As fate would have it, I pulled into the very same Poconos mountain Starbucks that Handan and I had visited the month before.
But this time was different.
The chairs were on the tables.
It was grab-and-go only.
So be it. Coffee was coffee, and I certainly didn’t plan to sit around Starbucks when I could be laying miles behind me. I looked up at the ski trails. A month ago they were covered in snow despite the mild winter. Now there were just patches of white scattered here and there.
In the east, this was the worst winter in recorded history if you like snow.
If you were packing to move though?
Best. Winter. Ever.
I got back on the road and slurped my milky latte.
Normally I’m an iced coffee man, but that day I just wanted a big milky latte.
I chewed through the miles, and then somewhere in southern Pennsylvania it happened.
A seismic shift.
In my guts.
I knew that feeling.
Everyone knows that feeling.
There are places in the body for liquids and places where liquids absolutely should not be.
I cursed my luck and then thought back on the big bowl of cereal and the latte.
I exited as soon as I could and pointed the car at Trusty McDonald’s.
On the road and need a clean bathroom? Over all the years and miles, I’ve found none better than Mickey D’s.
But not last Wednesday.
McDonald’s was closed.
So was Burger King
And every. Other. Restaurant.
Drive through only.
I U-turned and pulled into a run-down gas station next to the highway.
Gas station bathrooms – the wild west of sanitation.
But beggars can’t be choosers, so I let out a breath and waddled inside.
Gods be praised, it was unoccupied.
I won’t go into detail. This is a family blog. But I will tell you this.
Take note of this, madam!
The toilet paper shortage is not just in grocery stores.
By the grace of every god, this particular gas station still had old fashioned paper towels instead of those jet engine hand dryers. Thank god for small miracles
I left there shaken, but unbowed.
As I eased into the car, my insides whispered, “I’m not done with you yet.”
Twice more I had to pull off the highway and search about some small hamlet for a toilet.
Nowhere was toilet paper to be found.
Fortunately, I remembered the tissues my mother had given me. They saved me that day.
And after the third stop, I remembered I was carrying the contents of our medicine cabinet, so I rooted around and found the last two little blue pills.
No, not those blue pills! Please madam! Mind out of the gutter! We’re speaking of gentle matters here! ( 😆 )
Crisis thwarted, I put Pennsylvania in my rear view and crossed through Delaware and West Virginia with comfort and ease.
During our first road trip to Atlanta, we stopped in Roanoke, Virginia for the night. I had left far too late in the day to make it that far, so I settled for the halfway point of the trip, which turned out to be Harrisonburg, Virginia.
The country was in full-blown panic at this point, so I was surprised to see so many people on the roads and in the traveler hotels and motels.
Here’s a middle-of-the-day shot of some random stretch of highway in either Virginia or North Carolina – I don’t remember which.
Just to be on the safe side, I skipped breakfast and coffee the next morning.
Best not to tempt fate.
I timed my arrival in the Atlanta area to coincide with some house showings Handan had set up the day before.
We had 4 houses lined up – 3 in Suwanee and 1 in Johns Creek.
I pulled into Suwanee about an hour early, so I found a taco joint, ordered 2 and a coke from the deserted restaurant and munched away in my car until Handan met me after work.
House #1 was in a great subdivision. Beautifully maintained. The house had been empty for a while. Or at least that was my guess based on the dozens of enormous dead roaches that littered the floors of the bathrooms, kitchen and basement.
Pro Tip for Potential House Sellers: check on your vacant home from time to time and sweep up the roaches!
House #2 was in the same neighborhood as House #1. It was also vacant, but it was kept clean, and if there were roaches, they were not on display. I really liked the house, and I could see us living there.
But House #3 was the one we were all waiting for. Handan was frothing at the mouth – she couldn’t wait to get there. It looked good in the pictures, and the price was incredible.
We pulled up to the curb, and a little sign on the lawn proclaimed, “I’m Beautiful on the Inside, too!”
For Handan, it was love at first sight.
Our realtor got the key from the lockbox, opened the door and oops! The owner was home.
I guess we were a little late, and she had already returned. She seemed like a nice older lady, and fortunately for us, she agreed to skedaddle again so we could gawk at her home.
She had a beautiful home! She and her husband were the original owners, and it was obvious they had taken very good care of this house.
Handan fell even more in love.
As we were no longer rookie home buyers, we knew the important things to check.
Everything looked great.
There would still be plenty we could do for the blog, but overall, the house was amazing.
And the price just couldn’t be beat.
We canceled the final showing in Johns Creek.
Handan had seen enough houses in person, and we’d both seen enough online to know that this was the one.
We put our offer in that very night and hoped for a quick response.
But nothing’s quick in real estate, so our offer wasn’t finalized in contract form until Friday at about 2:00. Our agents submitted the offer, and we eagerly awaited the response.
Saturday morning (that’s yesterday, if you’re reading this today), I was still confident – after all, we offered her price – but we still hadn’t heard back.
“Don’t worry, my babes.” I kept repeating to Handan.
And then my phone buzzed.
I looked down.
A text from our agents.
I looked back up.
“My babes.” I looked at Handan. “She said yes!”