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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Curveball # 8,427

That crazy little thing called life went and changed everything, once again. Remember our planned move? It’s unplanned now. This is a long post, thanks in advance if you make it all the way through.

The move was centered around the fact that my in-laws bought a home in Missouri and Mr. Lane wanted to move closer to them. Actually, he wanted to move to Missouri. After researching the job market, and finding out that there isn’t one there, I had to come up with a quick and fair compromise.

Southern Illinois is four hours from the in-law’s new house and four hours from my mom’s and the rest of the family. Mr. Lane and I discussed it at great length and decided that location was a fair compromise.

I researched the schools and properties from the internet. I called chambers of commerce in all of the cities in our buying area, to obtain more information.

I made appointments for us to go look at houses one weekend. All four of us piled into the car for a five-plus hour drive in search of our new home. When we reached the general vicinity, we drove straight to the newsroom where I would be working. Mr. Lane didn’t think it looked very safe. To me, it looked more like a busy city with lots of stuff to write about. No more writing about spelling bees and recycling days. This place had murder and mayhem.

I had a great job offer. The company that owns the newspaper also owns a radio station. When I said I would love to do radio too, I was offered it right away. Timing is everything and as it turns out, they needed a morning personality on the local rock station. Loving rock and talking, it sounded like the perfect job for me. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work at NPR so I know my way around a radio station.

I was hired over the phone. Money was good, job sounded fun, writing and a morning show. Who could ask for anything more?

How about decent living conditions? I could ask for that too, right? If something sounds too good to be true… you know the rest. After checking out the city, we took the 35-mile circumference I’d mapped out, and drove through many smaller, outlying areas to look at houses.

The kids took everything in stride. They were initially sad about the idea of leaving their friends, but also appreciated the fact that we were looking out for the good of our whole family. Have I mentioned how much I love those two?

Lane 1 already devised a plan to come back to visit friends. “I’ll be driving in less than two years. It’s not like I won’t ever see them again.” And told his sister he would “let” her come along so she could also visit friends.

Going to a new school was looking like an adventure they were ready to undertake. Moving into a new house was something we all were ready for since we feel so crammed in the current Lane Estate.

So, back to house hunting. If nothing else it was funnier than shit, literally.

Home number one was listed as a cozy three bedroom, with a bath and a half. It was really a one bedroom that had been converted. If you ever see the word “cozy” in an ad, that means “really fucking small”. The previous owner had cut out a connecting wall and made a hallway closet and the kitchen pantry into a bedroom. And yes, you could tell it was not done by professionals.

The third pretend bedroom was the walk-in closet of the only real bedroom. There may have been enough room for a twin bed and a teddy bear. It didn’t even have a window. The half of a bath was a toilet in a small space that was hooked up for a washer and dryer but was converted into a bathroom. No sink, no shower or tub, just a toilet and accordion doors. In fact, if you sat on the pot and closed the doors, your knees would be pressed against said doors. We all tried sitting in there and we all laughed. Inside I was pretty discouraged, but we had many more houses to see.

This one house was listed at an affordable rate, like the others, and it landed within our search area. The listing didn’t provide much more than that. We drove to the town, which had a sign, listing 704 as their population.

Mr. Lane, our conductor for that stretch, said, “Welcome to your new home family, population 704. I mean… 708 now.”

Following the population sign was a welcome sign. Immediately after passing that we saw a junkyard to our left with rusted out twisted metal by the heaps. To our right was a singlewide 1960’s model trailer. We knew if that view was the entry into that town, we were in for some real sights.

In “downtown” where only one business remains, all other buildings are vacant and boarded, we saw a man who looked homeless, selling watermelons out of the back of his pickup truck, which likely doubled as his home.

We continued through town and found “city hall” which was a singlewide metal trailer like you might see on a construction jobsite. Across the street was the “Park & Ballfield” at least that is what the sign said. The open lot had a tiny jungle gym, smaller than what many people have in their backyards.

There were several houses in between, but the next was what changed our minds for good.

This home was advertised as a three bedroom, two bath with basement and lots of land, and several outbuildings.

There were three bedrooms, but the basement was actually a storm shelter with a dirt floor and concrete walls, with a heavy aroma of mold. The outbuildings, well, see for yourself.

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Do you know what that is? The kids didn’t either. They decided to open the door and have a look inside. It was bathroom number two. Look at their faces! Man, I love it!

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Today I am thankful for my tiny house and my great little family with their great sense of adventure and amazing sense of humor. This morning while getting ready for school, the kids were fighting over the bathroom. Lane 2 told her brother to take his “wizzle” outside. He reminded her that we didn’t buy that house.