Moving on up–to the Fourth Floor

We’re officially moving West!

Remember last spring, when I told you David and I had decided to stay in our house? As usual God had other plans.

On January 2, we were told to sell the house and get ourselves permanently settled in our 4th-floor Denver apartment by February 1. As I’m sure you can imagine, this is not an easy task; and my work time is currently consumed by real-estate agents, stagers, photographers, nosy neighbors, and (eventually) buyers. After hours I’m touching up paint, shampooing carpets, moving furniture, packing boxes, and crying a lot.

The moving trucks roll in on January 22 to take us to Denver. Do you think we can sell the house in 14 days? I’ll take bets in the comments section below.

All hail, IKEA!

The primary view from our hotel window.

This is my third trip to Denver, but this is the first time I’ve been here knowing, “This is my new home.” You look at things differently when you realize they are about to be part of your life. I’m not overly thrilled with what I’ve seen so far:

David and I are staying in Centennial, a suburb of Denver that is minutes from his office. It’s sprawling like Cool Springs but expensive like Green Hills (for my Nashville folks). I’m within walking distance of Nordstrom, Tiffany’s, and the American Girl Store (which David keeps pointing out to me for some unknown reason). The parking lots are filled with Audis, BMWs, and Lexuses. This is pretty close to my frequent suburban nightmare.

I am going to have to be intentional about my life up here. If I want the active, urban lifestyle I envisioned when David first mentioned our move, I now see there are some important decisions for David and me to make as we get settled:

  1. Live near mass transit. We are selling our two cars and buying one new car with all-wheel drive. This means David will take the car to work every day, and I’ll be walking or biking everywhere. If I want to go into Denver proper–and I will need to escape suburbia frequently–then we must be within walking distance of a Light Rail station.
  2. Learn to ride a bike. Yes, my daddy taught me how to do that; but bike-riding in a city is different. I am not fast enough or confident enough to ride on streets, and it’s illegal to ride on sidewalks. I’ve never even owned a helmet. I’ll stick to my “peds” for now, but without a car, a bike must be in my future.
  3. Downsize to upgrade. Have I mentioned housing costs out here? We’re going from a 3-bedroom home with a 1/2-acre yard in Tennessee to hopefully a 2-bedroom apartment in a Denver suburb. (Oh, and for the definition of irony, check out this recent post!) If we live close to transit stations, then our rent will be 30% higher and our home 30% smaller than in TN. Ouch.
  4. Get involved in a church. I like my quiet time, but when David is away, I get way too much of it. I work alone in a completely silent room all day, trading the occasional email with colleagues who are now 1,000+ miles away. I know no one in this new city, and I have no network through which to make acquaintances. No better place to find a network than the church. Thankfully we have 1 good lead on a church in Littleton.
  5. Don’t get too involved in a church. I tend to “go all in” when it comes to social and service activities, to my physical and mental detriment. My blogs probably reflect my difficulty with the word no.
  6. If I smush my face against the window and look west,
    I can just barely see the Rocky Mountains in the distance.
     It may be the Mile-High city, but Denver is actually a
    desert in a valley.
  7. Explore the mountains on weekends. We are 2+ hours from the Rocky Mountains, but that shouldn’t keep us from hiking in the summers and skiing in the winters (if finances allow). Colorado is arguably the healthiest state in the nation, and if we want to survive in this thin air, we must be more active and oxygenate our blood!

Please wish us luck, send up your prayers, and give me any helpful suggestions in the comments section below. I need all the good advice I can get.

Transplant Shock

The decorations were simple because there was no way to
improve upon that view!

When Jess and Thomas married in April, David and I purchased 6 potted “grocery” hydrangeas for their ceremony.

They weren’t terribly expensive, but I wanted to put that investment to work after the wedding too. Since we were about to expand our back deck and redo all the flower beds, I decided to save money and plant these after the wedding. I’d also move my struggling hydrangeas at the back of our property up to the new beds so they could be watered regularly by the soaker hoses. (God has done a great job of keeping them wet for me this year, but most summers they are neglected. Water is heavy, Tennessee is hot, mosquitoes are prolific, and I’m whine-y!)

Knowing I’d need to acclimate the potted plants to the outdoors but uncertain how to do it, I went to my trusty internet for advice. Grocery hydrangeas are genetically identical to the Penny Mac hydrangeas struggling in my backyard, but they have been shocked into making one huge display of blooms. They rarely survive beyond that first bloom.

Acclimating hydrangeas before planting.

Call me “stubborn”–I decided to give my plan a try anyway. It wouldn’t cost me anything if I failed, and it had the potential to save me hundreds of dollars if it worked. I set the plants on the deck where they were shaded by a tree but close enough to the back door that I wouldn’t forget to water them. After a few weeks, they’d adjusted to the heat and were ready to go into the ground just as soon as the deck was finished in early June.

It’s late July (not the good kind), and we still have our small deck. That means the grocery hydrangeas haven’t been planted. Tiny pots, summer heat, and the neighborhood cats worked together in the last 2 months to kill all the old blooms and most of the leaves; but I’ve kept watering the sticks and soil in spite of David’s sideways glances at me.

I am desperate to see these plants survive and thrive because they have come to represent my life. God is pulling David’s and my roots out of the fertile Tennessee foothills and transplanting us to the mile-high Denver desert. We’re leaving behind the beautiful, fulfilling life we’ve cultivated with all of our family and friends over the last 8 years; we’re entering a land without the spiritual and emotional nourishment to which we’ve grown accustomed.

This weekend David and I spent hours in the yard getting the property ready for our coming renters. If these hydrangeas do symbolize our life, then I am encouraged. About a week ago, tiny new leaves appeared on all 6 plants. One even has a bloom. The hydrangeas are now in the ground around the old deck (which is soon to become the “freshly-stained old deck”), and they already look happier. Only time will tell if they–and we–thrive after our transplant shock.

Just as I had plans for those plants, God has plans for us in Denver. I hope the hydrangeas will enhance our property as the earth nourishes them, and I pray that we will bless Denver as our new home provides a new life with new opportunities.