There are certain things I’d never wish upon anyone. Living without central a/c in Alabama is one of them.
Flashback to Fall 2009. I was 2 years into my career and spending more money than I was making. Typical of any new business. Business was growing, but not fast enough. Not the “Tami” speed that I was used to. Not yet, at least.
We had lived in an adorable garden home for 3 years in an area of town that was the exact opposite of where we lived in Los Angeles. We couldn’t walk anywhere, which is one of the things we loved about California, and when we left home every morning, we were surrounded by red clay and an unfinished subdivision.
However, we were living in a brand new structure, with no issues, working plumbing, etc. So, we couldn’t really complain. After all, we chose the house, right? We owned that home and a rental closer to town and were living the American dream. We were doing everything that everyone around us was doing and attempting to keep up with the Joneses, the Smiths and the Johnsons.
But something wasn’t right. Something didn’t feel right. My better half missed the West Coast and I missed walking to Starbucks. We loved the house itself, but the location just wasn’t working. And, to be quite honest, building a new business with a mortgage payment is a hard row to hoe.
We made a very hard decision that year, after money became tighter and tighter. I refused to give up on a business that was growing for the sake of saving a house I was just luke warm about. We decided we would either sell the house or rent it. Being rental property owners already, the rental idea didn’t seem too farfetched. There had to be others who longed to live amongst red clay, right?
So, with 2 rental properties under our belts, we moved ourselves into the teeniest, tiniest two bedroom apartment in an area of town that was as close as we could get to what we had in L.A. No central a/c, old floors, old windows, questionable neighbors and a kitchen that would make Martha Stewart cry (and not in a good way).
We loved it.
Because we were right across the street from the park, we were walking distance to at least 10 restaurants and about 50 shops and we could be anywhere in 15 minutes or less.
Location is everything, my friends.
And it helped that rent was HALF of what our mortgage was. Half the payment and double the fun. Twist my arm, why don’t you?
So, that is where we’ve been hiding out, it seems. Sweating to death every summer for almost 3 years on the 2nd floor of a 1950’s apartment building, but determined to give ourselves the “do-over” we deserved. I kept it mum for a long time… because, let’s be honest – who wants to work with a Realtor who rents? Funny story- a friend once came to visit and asked us if we lived in “the projects”. Any pride I had left took off running at that point.
Sometime in 2010, things started to change for the better. I finally put enough into my business to get more than enough out. I didn’t feel like I was drowning anymore. Things were starting to look up. And I could walk to the damn grocery store. Optimism began to grow where Defeat and Exhaustion had been living.
Fast forward to the present (insert futuristic music here). For 2.75 years, I’ve watched the real estate market in Homewood, waiting for something to pop up that was dirt cheap without being a tear-down. We lost out to multiple offers on foreclosures about 6 times total during this period. And each year, I vowed to have us in something by Christmas. This past Christmas, I was so frustrated; we didn’t even bother with a tree. I refused to get a tree again until after we had a “real” house to put it in.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m proud to say that 2012 will be the year of the return of the Christmas tree. 🙂
And the return of central a/c!
When I take a look around our empty apartment on Tuesday, I’m going to remember the sacrifices that we made to be here, the support that I received from the love of my life who believed in me every step of the way, and the feelings I got the first time I walked into this apartment: fear, mixed with quiet hope and the humble acceptance that a second chance brings.