We arrived in Austin on Wednesday April 5, 2006. We stashed our cats at a local vet for boarding (recommended by our real estate agent) and then went to our hotel. The plan was for us to close on our house on Saturday and have our moving van meet us there that weekend since Brian had to start work on Monday. While we waited for Saturday, we drove around the city, trying to acclimate ourselves to the new environment both in store (our grocery store is HEB, not Acme) and in roads – roads especially. It seems that in Austin, all the highways have at least 2 names and which name someone uses depends on how long they have lived in Austin. For instance:
- 183 = Research
- Loop 1 = MoPac
- 360 = Capital of Texas Highway
For those of us who are directionally challenged, this was a bit of an annoyance. It helped immensely that our rental car had a navigation system we could use to find the long and short routes to random places.
Saturday came, we closed without a hitch, and I owned 2 houses. We installed the cats in their new home – being in an empty room was better than a cage (and a lot cheaper too) and walked around our big empty house. Brian started the process of tracking down our mover – we hadn’t heard from him yet and honestly, we were a little worried about the possibility of him having a heart attack on the side of the road because he was much older than we had expected. After some dropped calls, we finally had a conversation with him and he told us the earliest he would be there was Tuesday. The mover would call us as he got closer to Cedar Park and we would give him directions to our house.
Okay – Tuesday – we would stay in the hotel a few extra days, I would drive Brian to work and pick him up, and I would be in charge of the movers… in a strange city… in a strange car that I haven’t driven because Brian drove it every day… I could do this. I’m a grown-up and, on occasion, have even come across as fairly competent.
To prepare, on Monday night, after Brian’s first day of work, we went to Wal-Mart and bought me a folding chair. We had no idea when the movers would arrive, so I could be waiting in an empty house for a while – I needed something to sit on (we still have this folding chair – I look to it as a memory of the first day). Tuesday morning, I dropped Brian off at work and successfully drove to our new house without getting lost once. I said hello to the cats and then deposited myself on the folding chair – outside so I could wait and smoke (remember, I still had that nasty habit when we moved down here).
My mom called and then my friend from NJ called. I felt good… things were going well. And then a friend of mine from work called and things weren’t as rosy.
Let’s back up a minute. In NJ, I was working at a sub-prime mortgage company as a Senior Learning Specialist. It was a really good position, paid well, and kept me interested (not an easy thing for a job to do). When we decided to move to Texas, I resigned from my position – or more accurately, I tried to resign from my position. I was turned down… I didn’t know your resignation could be turned down. But, apparently it can be. Instead, my boss made me an offer of long-distance employment. I would work from home and travel back to NJ at least once a quarter paid for by the company. I had my doubts since this was the beginning of what would become a great economic crisis spurred on by the sub-prime mortgage companies and my specific company had already gone through at least one set of lay-offs, but I was assured there was money for me and that I was important. With my inflated ego, I accepted and moved to Austin ready to work from home.
Back at the ranch… or back in my suburban cookie cutter development, my friend from work called. She worked in Employee Relations and therefore knew a lot of what went on at the company. Turns out, she was calling to warn me that I was going to receive a phone call from my boss and that I was going to be laid off. So, after all the assertions, I was going to be laid off. I called Brian, told him the news, and was trying to figure out how I felt about the whole thing. Turns out, I was angry… super angry – really pissed. I wasn’t convinced (and I’m still not) that the higher ups who approved my working from Texas, knew that they were just going to lay me off. I wish they had just let me quit and I would have been job searching already.
But, in one of those soul searching moments, I realized that what REALLY made me angry, had very little to do with my company. Within the hour, my boss called, I was laid off with a decent severance package, and all I could think about was that the job was my last tie to NJ and now it was gone. I had truly left home and apparently that was a bigger deal than I was prepared to deal with. That was when my anger turned to sadness and I cried, alone on my folding chair in an empty house. But, I needed to get my shit together because the movers were coming and I was a grown-up.
Early afternoon, Brian called me to tell me he had been talking to the movers, got them as far as a local mall and I was to go and find them and escort them back to our house. He gave me directions to the meeting location and said it should take me about 10 minutes. 45 minutes later, I found the moving van. I was already on the edge because I had gotten lost so many times, was emotionally not so stable, and wasn’t confident that I could have this moving van follow me back to our house. But, it had to be done.
So, a giant 18 wheeler was following me through suburbia. I wasn’t sure what to do. It seemed like it took him a long time to speed up and slow down so I was trying to accommodate the way he drove. I wasn’t sure what types of roads he could navigate, so I took us what I thought was the route with the widest roads… and I got us lost. Very lost on a road that took you nowhere. We stopped, one of the movers, younger gentleman probably in his late 30s, came to find out what was going on. When I explained to him the situation, he decided to drive with me in the car as we turned around (and how that truck was able to turn around was a miracle) and try and make it back to the house. And, honestly, I felt like a complete dumb ass.
At that point, I was someone who couldn’t find her own house, couldn’t have a truck follow her, and couldn’t keep a job. And very innocently, the mover asked me how my day was, and I burst in to tears. Not movie tears either – but sobbing heaving tears as I told him how I just got laid off. And I HATE to cry in front of people – even in front of Brian (and he hates me crying in front of him so that works out). I didn’t want this stranger to be emotionally connected to me and so I added that to the failure column which of course just made me cry harder. So, while I was in some self-deprecating circle of hell (I believe Dante would have put this in the 3rd inner circle) and the mover was trying to tell me how this was all God’s plan, we arrived at our house. It was 3PM and they weren’t sure they could move anything in that late, but one look at my face and they started.
And I knew, right then and there, that this had to be as bad as it could get.