Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Arrival Day 2007: How Far We've Come

Every year around this time we celebrate Arrival Day. It was July 22, 2007, when Ron and I loaded up 3-year-old Benny and the cat and flew to San Francisco. It was the culmination of 7 months of preparation, including six weeks of separation from Ron and five months of trying to sell the house.

It truly ranked as one of the most stressful periods of my life and every year I take a minute to see how far we've come. Four years ago on this day I was awake at 1 a.m. in our Ann Arbor house, our luggage piled in the empty living room. The whole house smelled like cleaning wipes, since we had a showing later that day.

By July 2008, I'd survived a year at the Business Times filling in for a senior editor, produced a giant real estate publication, negotiated the sale of our house to Andy and went with Ron and Benny on our first trip (a few days on the coast) since arriving in S.F.

By July 2009, we'd managed to to pay for Benny's fiendishly expensive school for two years and managed to score a spot in a good San Francisco elementary school. The recession was clamping down, with layoffs and paycuts at work, so we huddled in a tiny one-bedroom and concentrated on paying down debt.

By July 2010, we'd gone to Mt. Lassen — our first long family vacation since our RV trip to Shenandoah Valley in 2006. Four of our credit card lenders imposed giant APR hikes on our balances, requiring us to “opt out” and close the cards. We threw Benny's first real birthday party since he turned one and moved (finally) to a two-bedroom apartment that is walking distance to Benny's school. And July 2010 was a great month for us, even though Benny didn't like his summer daycare: we visited the Charles Shulz "Peanuts" museum, I joined a geology hiking group, and Benny and I went to Muir Woods.

Now here we are at July 2011. In the past year we bought a car (!)and I flew to Alabama with Benny to see Greg's graduation. We still miss Ron's dad, who passed away in November. In February we traveled to Death Valley and paid off most of our debt, thanks to an sum of money from Ron's dad. Benny joined spring Little League baseball and I wrote another NaNoWriMo novel. (You're supposed to write it all in November; it took me until April.) I visited Greg in Fort Hood, Texas, before he left for Afghanistan, and saw Cindy, Scott and Andy too. Then we topped it all off with a cross-country drive by way of South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.

Yes, I'd say we've come pretty far.

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