The Last Move: Part Two
This is part two of the story. If you haven't read it yet, start here.
In some ways, it was an easy decision. We finally found a place we loved - why wouldn't we move there?
But in other ways, it was painful. After moving three times in six months, the last thing I wanted to do was move again. I wanted to be settled. I wanted to put down roots. I did not want to pack and unpack boxes again.
We had just spent 3 months in an incredibly exhausting, but incredibly inspiring school search. You see, elementary schools in our town are all open-enrollment. That's a fancy way of saying there are no school districts - but instead one big district - and enrollment is all done by a lottery. Families rank 6 schools in order of their preference and the district does what they can to match people in their requested school. It reminded me a lot of sorority recruitment ... it's not perfect, but most times it works out.
We went to tours and information nights, we talked to other parents, we talked to current students, teachers, principals, we read books and articles on education styles and philosophies. We found an incredible school - it was a perfect match for us. My children would be taught in a similar way that we would teach them if we were to homeschool. They would be connected to kids of all ages - not just the ones in their individual classes. They'd have the same teacher two years in a row. They would learn in a project-based setting. They wouldn't have homework. They would learn through play. It would give us a community in this town that felt oh-so-difficult to make connections. It was the only school I wanted them to go to. And after the lottery was held, we learned that we got in. It's everything I wanted for my kids in the realm of education ... why the hell would we give that up?!
When it came down to it, school wasn't a big enough reason for us to stay in a town that did very little to fulfill our heart's desires. We knew if we didn't go now, we'd fall in love with the school and we'd stay here forever. I would become a person I never really wanted to be. I would lose myself for the sake of my kids' education. And we agreed that wasn't a good way to live.
So - after a lot of conversation and prayer, we put our house on the market. It would be a very short listing - if it didn't sell within a couple of weeks, we would stay put, try out Kindergarten, and revisit the decision at the end of the school year. God must have heard that as a prayer & a challenge, because we were under contract within a week. We now had about four weeks to find a new place to live.
I found a realtor who just happened to be mutual friends with people I know from my Georgia days. She was able to answer all of our questions, talk to us about specific neighborhoods, churches, people, areas. She listened to our non-negotiables. We need sidewalks. We need walkability. We need neighbors. We need a park. We had already fallen in love with one neighborhood, but she encouraged us to visit a few others. We put offers in - got outbid - and watched the inventory dwindle.
We began to think about what compromises we were willing to make. We found another house that we wanted to see. It was a somewhat busy street, but we loved the features. It was the right school district. It was near places we wanted to be near. I was ready to settle on it. I needed a new home in this town - and I needed it fast. So we made plans to go to a Friday open house. And I kid you not ... the house went under contract at noon that day. After I had already made the hour drive. That afternoon, our realtor sent us a new list of houses. These are on the higher end of your budget, and aren't really in the exact locations you've been looking at, but you should drive by them and see what you think.
I looked them all up and decided I'd drive by the ones with a walkability score of 45 or higher. There were two. One was way out of our price range, and I didn't love the neighborhood. The other seemed okay - but I really didn't want to live in the Northern part of the city. But wait ... it had an open house that night ... so it couldn't hurt to go look, right?
We picked D up from the train station and went to one of our favorite parks to play. I don't want to see it, I said - much like a stubborn child. I don't WANT to live there. I WANT to live HERE! But we went. He practically had to drag me into the house. I left thinking, This is a nice house. Someone will really love it.
And as we were getting in the car, a gentleman on the street said Is it nice? Yes, we said; it's very nice. Do you live in the neighborhood?
I do. I live right around the corner. We love it. It's the best neighborhood in Beverly.
I laughed. We don't really want to live up here. We really want to live closer to downtown. What makes this the best neighborhood in Beverly?
The people. The people are amazing. This is the kind of neighborhood you can borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbors if you need one. We walk everywhere. All the time. There are tons of kids. It's safe - they play together all the time. People watch out for one another.
We continued our conversation for a while, and then said our goodbyes. As I got in the car, I looked to my sweet D and said,
Seriously? The kind of neighborhood you can borrow a cup of sugar in? How the hell did he know I'm the one that would go to my neighbor's house to borrow eggs and sugar?! I DON'T WANT to live here. But I kind of love it.
On our drive home, we talked about it. It was on the very top end of our price range - but it needed no work. It wouldn't be yet another starter home ... this would be our forever home. We went home and worked on numbers. We asked our realtor to meet us there for the next open house. We made an offer - and attached a letter where I poured my heart out to the sellers. I told them how much we loved the house and the neighborhood. I told them how we had been searching all over the Boston area for a place to truly call home. I told them we would love their house forever and would treat it with nothing but love and kindness.
Three days later, our realtor called and said - They want you to have the house. There was a higher offer, but they just feel like this is your house. They want you to have it. I cried - tears of joy, tears of relief, tears of disbelief. I said a prayer of thanksgiving, and a prayer of awe that God would work in this way.
But even after that moment, there were still times of doubt. Especially once our oldest started school, I began to wonder why we were pulling her away from something she - and I - loved so much. And then ... as I was at her dance studio waiting for her ballet class to end ... I got a notification from Facebook. A day or two earlier, I had posted on a local page asking if anyone had Kindergarten students at the school we would be zoned for. My daughter was sad to be leaving her friends, and I'd love to make her some new ones, I said. Someone responded to that post, telling me the school was wonderful and asking if I just happened to be the person buying the house on her street.
Yes! Do you live in the neighborhood?
I do! I live on that road!
Wait a second ... I think we met your husband at the open house.
Oh I bet you did! He told me he met the nicest family!
We continued our conversation and I decided she was going to be an awesome neighbor. As the weekend went on, our paths crossed online several other times. I discovered we had a gazillion things in common, and I couldn't believe the gifts God was giving us with this move. It's like every thing we had been praying for - in all of our adult life together - was finally coming together in this last move. We met the other neighbors - and as we stood in the street talking to them about who we were and when we were moving, I felt this overwhelming sense of gratitude. All this time we thought we needed a specific location. But what we really needed was a community of people ... and God knew that more than we did.
That house - that neighborhood - it's ours now. We begin our last move today. We've already found a church to call home. After a lot of prayer, we've decided to home school and already have a home school community to help us navigate how to make that a positive thing in our family and home. We have a beautiful house that we can live in forever. And we have the most amazing neighbors we could ever ask for.
It took a long time, and a lot of searching, but we have found our New England dream. We have found our new home.