It’s “see you later.” I’m sorry for my absence lately, but we are moving this weekend and we have been (and continue to be) super busy in the weeks leading up to the move. I will be back to blogging, I promise, but it may not be for a few weeks. Thank you for understanding and I’ll be sure to invite you over when we have a party at the new place. 😉
Is loft living for you? My husband and I moved into a loft in downtown Birmingham a few years ago. It was a dream of ours for years and we were given a great opportunity to make it happen. It was everything we dreamed it would be – close to all the action, able to see friends walking down the street from our 3rd floor windows, having parties in the spacious front room, bike share, ball park, and green spaces all nearby. It was wonderful. Now before I get into the meat of the post, ask yourself a few questions:
Why do I want to live in a loft? Is it the thrill or convenience of being downtown, in the heart of a growing city? Is it because I’ve dreamed of it ever since I saw Tom Hanks’ loft in Big? Is it for other reasons? Really ask yourself that question and write it out. Then say it to someone not in your household. Is it a good, legitimate, reason? Now for the real questions to ask yourself when looking at potential lofts or living spaces downtown:
- What is the parking situation? Does it have reserved parking? A garage? Is the parking lot secure? How many spots do you get with your place? Is that negotiable or can you get additional spaces if needed? Is it street parking? (Warning: street parking downtown is the worst, if you didn’t already know. If you do have to street park, please hope you leave before the Meter Maids come start coming ‘round). But really try for reserved or garage parking.
- Is there an elevator? I know that may seem like a crazy question, but not all buildings downtown have one and if you’re on the 3rd floor of a building, those steps can get old after a year or two. Most buildings do have an elevator, but you want to double check for moving purposes. Many historic buildings downtown have restrictions on the elevators regarding moving in and out. Check that before you decide!
- Are there condo or building association fees on top of your monthly rent or mortgage? Many places charge monthly building fees in addition your regular mortgage or rent, so be sure to ask about any additional monthly fees for living in a multi-tenant building.
- Will there be people living above you? You will likely have people living around you, either above, below, or next to, in most multi-tenant situations. Being the old, ornery person I am, I no longer want someone living above me and driving me batty with heels on hardwoods, heavy walking, or critters. That’s just me; I’ve lived in enough apartments in my life to figure out what is and isn’t a deal breaker for me. Listening to people clomp around above me is one of them. Just like in some apartments, you will likely hear your neighbors – either their televisions, dogs barking, or a myriad of other sounds. Remember, you paid for that!
- How do guests, service, or delivery people get to you and your new space? Will it require giving someone a code or can you buzz them in remotely? If you’re having a party, how will your hundreds of guests get into your building? If you live in a secure building, you likely don’t want to prop the downstairs front door open for a few hours to let your friends in (and your neighbors may not like that) so ask about that.
- Can you afford to fix the building? If you decide to buy a space in a multi-tenant building and there is an issue with the building itself, all the owners may have to chip in to repair the common problem. This is the situation at our current building. The entire front facade of the building needed to be replaced, so all the owners had to help pay for the repair work. It’s been nearly nine months and many dollars for the owners, but it’s nearly done.
- What is the pet policy? Make sure you check that if you have critters and see if there is a place for them to potty nearby. You will have to take dogs out on the leash every time and you will have to pick up after them. Also, keep that in mind if you are allergic to certain kinds of animals. If pets are allowed and living in the building, their dander and fur will likely be in the common areas from where their owners take them out for walks.
- What happens if you get locked out? Is there an access code to get into your building? What if you forget the code or they change it and you haven’t received the new code yet? Is there another way in? Is there a physical lock somewhere you can use?
- Is there rooftop access? This was a big one for us because we love to grill out. In our current building there is no rooftop access. Not a huge deal, but the longer we’ve been there, the more we realized how much we missed it. Some buildings downtown do have rooftop access or grills nearby, so check on that. Also, rooftops are perfect for watching the fireworks, sunsets, and airplanes downtown.
- Can I afford it? With the downtown boom in Birmingham, many lofts are increasing in rent or purchase price. That means that in many cases you may end up paying more than your current living situation. Some buildings include cable, internet, or water, and some don’t include anything. Ask about all those extras before you decide because they can make or break your budget.
Do you still want to move into a loft? None of these are necessarily reasons not to move into a loft downtown, but they are definitely things to think about. Some may be deal breakers for you, some may not. I will say that we have loved loft living, but we do miss birds, trees, grass, and grilling out so we decided that we’re leaving the loft style. Maybe we’ll give it another try one day, but for now this is what works for us. 🙂
It’s taken me a long time to muster up the strength to write this post even though it comes from a happy place. One of my best friends, Caleb, is moving back home this weekend. While we haven’t known each other that long, it feels like forever. I thought I would share my story of going home and how I met Caleb as I wish him well on his new adventures.
I moved back to Birmingham on November 26th, 2010. My brother and I left in the wee hours of the morning that Friday from Virginia, him driving the large U-Haul and me following behind in my car. We parted ways in Alabama about 1 a.m. in the pitch black on I-59; he split off to go home to Clanton (taking the truck with him) and I finished the last few miles into Birmingham, tears streaming down my face as I saw the city lights come into view. They were tears of joy; I was beyond happy to be “home.” I loved living in Virginia and missed the people there more than I could show them, but this was home. This was where my girls and most of my family were.
I hadn’t seen my new home yet in person. My Bham bestie – Lee – had worked with me over the miles to locate, tour, and eventually secure a beautiful townhouse for me in the south side of town. When I arrived to the address in the middle of the night, I was nervous, hopeful, and scared to death since I didn’t know this side of town that well. 🙂 Needless to say, she’d planned wonderfully for my impending arrival: paper plates, cups, utensils, napkins, munchies, hand soap and hand towels, night lights throughout the house, and – most importantly – toilet paper and a huge bottle of wine (and wine opener) chilling in the fridge. She had thought of everything I could possibly need in the middle of the night after a 14 hour drive. I know I’ve thanked her for her friendship and thoughtfulness since then, but she’ll never really know how much it meant. Or how much I will remember it as a lovely story to tell for years to come.
I got Millie, my dog, settled and went about inflating my air mattress in my new bedroom (as much as I could tell it was the ‘master’ in the middle of the night). I’m sure my new neighbors loved the air blower cranking up at 2 a.m. “Welcome to the ‘hood, Noisy!” I slept as peacefully and as much as I could in an unfamiliar place that I couldn’t see very well, while trains rumbled right outside my window. I rose bright and early Saturday morning to get re-acquainted with my city…in my PJs because I couldn’t find my clothes. My first stop: COFFEE! I tootled down the street and lo and behold, a local coffee shop – Forest Perk Coffee. I was beside myself at my good fortune of having an independent coffee shop so close to home. I grabbed my once-familiar Black & White and (literally) bounded up to the counter to place my order. I was so excited about being home that the young man behind the counter (seriously) asked me if I was on crack. I politely explained that I was not a) on crack b) drunk or c) on medication – I was just very happy to finally be back in Birmingham. He thought I was a nut, made my mocha, and we parted ways. His name was Tim and I knew we’d be fast friends.
As the weeks went by, I would stop at Forest Perk more often and get my medium mocha. I found myself drawn to the quiet, studious barista – Jeremy – and the crazy, talkative one – Tim. The owner, Caleb, was very polite yet we never made it past the obligatory formalities even though I bounded up in there nearly every day. Finally, one day, I was inviting them to some local event and Caleb passed me his phone number on the way out the door. I was thrilled! I was IN! In what? No idea, but I was in! I texted him the moment I got to work and we started our friendship over cell phones that morning. It wasn’t long before we were thick as thieves and going everywhere together – we were both single, both dog lovers, both coffee lovers, and had a million more things in common.
Fast forward two years later to now: We both have very special Birmingham people in our lives, we both have more animals than when we first met, we both have different cars, and we’ve both been through more ups and downs the last few years than I care to recall. But, we’ve also been there for each other more times than I can recall. There’s never been a cross word between us, never a fight. Of course there have been times we’ve driven each other crazy and needed a little time apart/to ourselves, but it always reminded of us how important we are to each other. And how much we miss the other one when they’re not around.
Caleb, you’ve been my best friend and “husband” for the past few years. There aren’t enough words to describe what you mean to me and what a joy it’s been having you in my life – helping me, watching over me, looking after me, and supporting me with your love, words, and Toby’s saliva. 😉 I know you will be great wherever you go and whatever you do. As sad as I am today and these past few weeks, a bigger part of me is happy for you…happy that you’re doing what is best for you right now, happy that you’re the son your parents raised you to be, happy that you’re a wonderful father to the boys, and happy that you have been such an intricate part of my life these past few years. I know you’re only 1 phone call and 90 miles away at any time. That goes both ways – I am always here for you. You will never be forgotten, you will always be loved, and you will always be my best friend.
I love you.
Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in all the things I have to do or have going on. I know I’m not the only one, but the feeling gets old after a while. I’m overwhelmed, sleep deprived and emotional. I don’t think the holidays are helping. While they’re nice and festive, they just remind me of how broke I truly am these days.
I’m moving this weekend. I’m trying desperately to get the keys to the new place ahead of time and I was supposed to get them today so I can start moving boxes and bags of stuff over. I checked yesterday and now I am to “check in” with the office on Wednesday morning to see when I can get them. So, that is adding to my downward spiral. It’s nothing major..just another bump in the road that I didn’t think I would have to deal with. If this keeps up, I’ll be moving by myself on Friday. I am not feeling sorry for myself, but I really was hoping to get the keys early and enlist my man’s help before Friday to move stuff. He will be gone this weekend, so that kinda sucks too. I have a friend who is coming to help me on Saturday get some movers, but I’m not asking her to move anything herself. I just thought things would be better worked out and progressing nicely if I got the keys early. I may be able to get them tomorrow, so I need not worry just yet. It’s just that I thought I would have them today.
Since I am not getting them today, I took last night off from packing. I tried to get some sleep b/c I have been missing a lot lately due to the people and dog upstairs. No luck. Last night was spent lying awake in my bed listening to the ruckus of the dog and Bigfeet up there. Both of them. OMG, I’m so over this place. I am wondering if my tolerance is low b/c I know I’m moving soon. I’m just counting the days. But each day that I’m there it seems to get worse and it drives me even more crazy. I have a lot of anger built up. I know it’s useless and not healthy and I’m trying to let it go, but it’s going to take some seriously releasing.
My car is having issues. It’s out of alignment and last night, I noticed the door doing something strange. On top of trying to figure out HOW I’m going to pay for it to get fixed, I have to try and figure out WHEN I can take it in. I pretty much need it for work and for the move and have no idea when I can be without it. That is a pain my ass, also. I just want to say, “Screw it” and drive it the way it is, but people are advising against that b/c I have new tires. One more thing I have to try and get done before I leave.
I seem to be having a pity party these days between work, the holidays, the car, moving and trying to get ready for vacation. I am trying hard not to, but the holidays always get me down since my divorce. This is not how my life was supposed to be. This wasn’t what I had planned. I know that plans change and that it’s ok. I know that it works out for the better a lot of time, but it’s just hard seeing that right now. I was supposed to be married with kids by now. That’s how I feel anyway. Not because society dictates that or says that’s the way it should be…but because I wanted that. Well, at least still married. The kids part would come when the time was right.
I want to go home….for good. I feel like I’m in over my head with everything and I know it’s just a temporary feeling. I know that things don’t always stay the same and I won’t always feel like this. I know that in my head…but my heart is having a hard time believing that right now. Last week I felt on top of the world b/c I was getting out of that apartment and I was bypassing all the fees and felt like the universe was smiling on me. Then I had a crisis at work that totally got me all out of sorts and now this week is dark. I wish there was some consistency…some normalcy…some happiness for a good, long while. There are aspects of my life that are wonderful and have been for some time now. But when I’m having a rough time, it seems that I focus on only that.
I wish the move was over and I could sleep again. While I want to go back to Alabama and visit, I need that time off from work to get my life in order in the new apartment so I don’t come back to chaos (unpacked apartment). Yet, I want to go back to Alabama and just stay. Not worry about coming back. And going back to Alabama is not the answer to all my woes right now…it just seems like it. I want to retreat to the place that is most comforting to me, even though I’m doing good here. I still just want to go home.
A friend sent this to me today. I know it made me put things in perspective a bit more. Maybe it will help you too.
“You and I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices.”
– Deepak Chopra: Doctor and mind/body/spirit author
It’s nice to be reminded of our choices. Sometimes you may feel as if you’re simply on a roller coaster, simply along for the ride, with little control. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Right now, you’re choosing to read this. Then you can choose to work on a project, or get coffee, or talk to a friend. Or save a life, or improve your life, or simply give up. The choices are out there waiting for you to choose or refuse.