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OUR SOUTHERN EXIT: Leaving Louisiana – Pt. 4

April-June 2022: Our journey out of southeast Louisiana after living there as a transplant for 15 years.

Proud Parents: Closing Day for Son.

A week after we sold our house, Drake flew down and saw his house in person for the first time. He met the son and daughter of the previous homeowner an hour or two before closing.

The house had belonged to an old lady who had recently died. She had lived in the home for decades with her husband and then by herself until she was 103. They were staples in the community and were well-loved. Her daughter lives next door and I couldn't ask for a better neighbor for our son. Everyone calls her “G”, but the south has trained me well – so she is “Miss G” to me. She may have expressed concern about a potentially rowdy 23-year-old young man living next to her, but I believe she was pleasantly surprised when he finally moved in. Her son and daughter-in-law live a couple doors down and were also very welcoming. Southern hospitality defined.

Design meeting with client aka my son at his first home.

Our first design meeting. #sonsvintagedigs

First time homebuyer with keys.

Drake closed on his house and slept there that night on an air mattress before flying back to Washington for the next couple of months. I moved in the next day. Wasting no time, I began removing every nail and screw from the walls to prepare for the massive paint job ahead of me. I checked in and out of a local hotel throughout the month. I was a bit ambitious right off the bat – thinking I could live there while fixing it up. But the shower had issues that needed to be addressed and everything was dirty and sleep on that little air mattress was anything but restful. (It was also a bit creepy being in a completely empty house where all you could hear were bugs and sounds of the night, not to mention the common nightly thunderstorms.) While I may be cheap, I did assure my husband I would take care of myself.

The first order of business was to paint the guest room and get a real mattress in there. The sooner I did that, the sooner I could stop paying hotel fees. You’re probably thinking, “Hotel? Nice. I’d love to stay in a hotel”. Remember . . . I am cheap, so it wasn’t a luxurious experience and other guests were questionable. Literally a place to shower, eat take out and maybe catch Murder She Wrote before drifting off to sleep. I chose a hotel in a central location between my son’s house and clients.

Temporary home base at local hotel.

When I painted the floor and walls in the guest room, it started to feel homey. I ordered a rug and bed frame so I would be ready when the real mattress arrived. The air mattress on the bed frame was a bit precarious, but I was close to the ground so I risked it.

House Hunting: Washington Edition.

By May 8th, I had scrubbed, primed and painted most of the floors (sheet linoleum) and begun demolishing the built-in cabinets in the laundry room. On the morning of May 9th, I sealed the painted floors with polycrylic – I literally rolled myself out of the house and locked up for a week (the cat stayed with the vet). Off to the airport I went to spend time with my husband and do some house hunting in the Tri-Cities. We had been apart for a month and we definitely missed each other.

We toured a bunch of houses and submitted offers on multiple homes, but nothing panned out. It is difficult to describe how foreign everything felt. We weighed renting versus buying, but the thought of renting and possibly storing our belongings indefinitely was a transitional living arrangement that was not appealing for us at this stage. My husband and I just wanted to start planting roots and settle in.

I returned to Louisiana to resume client projects and work on my son's house. I tackled the much dreaded task of painting his kitchen and bathroom cabinets. I hired out a few things that were above my pay grade -- adding a bathroom vent fan from this century, addressing some other electrical issues and installing our old washer and dryer set that we left behind for Drake.

My husband continued our house hunt on his days off while FaceTiming me. The thought of me not personally being there to choose our house in person would normally have been unfathomable. I am still shocked at the relief I felt entrusting him to find our new home. That's not to say it didn't feel awkward when I finally saw it, but it's just a house. I knew I could turn any house into a home. Removing one big decision from my plate was huge. I was tired. Doing this back-and-forth-wrapping-things-up-living-but-not-feeling-like-I-belonged-anywhere dance was exhausting.

But . . . sadly, that dance was going to last another year.

If you missed Part 3, click here.


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