Four years ago today, July 30, we were half way through our cross country move from Wellsboro, Pennsylvania to Houston, Texas. It was a 24 hour, 1,600 mile drive that took three days.
Our second day was a long 900-mile stretch, from Harrisonburg, Virginia to Picayune, Mississippi. Chattanooga is somewhere in the middle.
My parents had been to Chattanooga before. They reenacted the 150th Battle of Chickamauga (we used to be Civil War reenactors) and while there, they took a quick trip up to Chattanooga, to see the National Cemetery. My dad also loves trains and wanted to see the Andrews Raiders monument.
Tennessee was the first new state that we had driven through, so I think that was why I committed that part of the drive to memory, more so than any other sate.
My dad was driving to Houston with us, pulling the U-Haul trailer behind his truck. We were communicating with walkie talkies. As we were driving around Chattanooga on I-24 West, Dad was pointing out landmarks. From the road, we could see the flag pole on the top of the National Cemetery’s hill. Dad also made sure to point out Lookout Mountain, where the Civil War “Battle Above The Clouds” took place.
I specifically remember being in awe driving around Moccasin bend, around the mountain and the Tennessee River.
We took the Lookout Valley exit and stopped at a Subway for lunch. We ate in the parking lot. And then we were on our way, reaching the Georgia line just a few minutes later.
Little did we know that Chattanooga would be come our home three years later!
This past winter, I wrote an article about a new real estate office opening up in Lookout Valley. I drove past that Subway, and it was fun to reminisce. I think it would be fun to go back there and eat lunch again and think about how different things were the last time we ate there.
It’s raining today, and I’m thankful for the excuse to be forced to stay inside. Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day. We’ve had a month’s worth of sunny weekend days, which is a joke when you can’t go anywhere. I’ll bet that once this is all done and over with, it will rain for a month straight.
Toward the end of the week, I started looking up possible parks we could go to. City parks are closed, but I figured that parks not in Chattanooga would still be open. People need to exercise and walk their dogs, so something must be open. This is going against what I said last week, that we would err on the side of caution and assume that we couldn’t travel anywhere for exercise. I learned my lesson. The park that we had in mind, Greenway Farms in Hixon, was closed. I was disappointed.
Derek could tell how upset I was, so he started driving around random streets, pointing out the nice architecture of the houses. Meanwhile, I got a bad anxiety attack. Have you heard stories about people thinking they were having a heart attack, and it turns out it was just an anxiety attack? Well that is what it felt like for me, except I am so used to these attacks that I know what they are. It came on fast and sudden, and it was hard to breathe. My chest hurt. I am a little embarrassed that I had a bad anxiety attack after finding out a park was closed, but this is just what my mental health is like these days.
After I calmed down a bit, I was able to enjoy the drive. We saw some beautiful houses, some with front porch columns and turrets with green ivy climbing on them. It almost made the afternoon feel normal, like old times.
Overall, the day was good. I had ordered photos for scrapbooking, so I got that started yesterday. I will work on that again today. During dinner we watched The Martian, a great isolation themed movie for these times.
Next week I will be at my new job for a month. Time flies even when you’re stuck inside and the days run together. It is the hardest job I have ever trained for. It’s not the work that is hard, it is learning the process in order to do the work. There are a lot of new programs to learn. Everyone apologizes to me because I am having to learn everything remotely, but nothing can be done to change that.
Sleeping is hit or miss too. I have work nightmares almost every night, including the weekends too, which is frustrating. When it’s not a work related nightmare, I still have vivid and weird dreams.
I am experiencing frequent headaches now, and my acne is back in full force, which always happens when I am experiencing high levels of stress.
Earlier this week, to add on top of everyone’s Coronavirus related stress, an EF-3 tornado hit Chattanooga. The tornado hit in the middle of the night, and due to a number of factors, the people had no warning. We were lucky because we were north of the path of the tornado. Our power did go out though, and was out for half of the day. Some people still do not have power.
One theme that I keep seeing throughout all of this is that, yes, we may be stuck inside, but at least we have our TV and Internet to keep us occupied. Now some of these people haven’t had that for a week, and that is if they are some of the lucky ones, who hadn’t sustained much damage to their homes.
I am just trying to take this day by day. Everyone is.
We live near the base of Signal Mountain, a community on top of the mountain. We have driven up there a few times, and have found some new places to explore and visit. It’s a short drive up there, only a few miles, but since it goes up the mountain, there is a section with some steep hairpin curves.
We first went up the mountain when my parents visited a few weeks ago, when I had only been officially living in Chattanooga for a few days. We drove around to get a feel for the area, and checked out some shops. On the way back down, I took a video of the hairpin section, plus some of the gorgeous views.
I already have quite a few Signal Mountain related things that I would like to write about, but I thought I would backtrack and show readers the drive first.
I’m back tracking a bit with this post. I had originally wrote this entry in the beginning of August, and I wanted to wait to post this.
Derek moved to Chattanooga on Wednesday, July 31, and somehow, everything worked out in a way that I was able to go with him, and help him get settled in.
In the middle of July, I applied for a copywriting position. The position opened up on a Friday, and I applied for it on Saturday. They contacted me on Monday. I had an initial screening interview. Then I settled in for an unknown waiting period.
I was just starting to think that maybe they didn’t think I was good enough for an in-person interview, when they got back to me with hours to spare.
Derek and I were up early, out to breakfast at one of our favorite places. The time difference was on our side. It was 8 a.m. in Tennessee, and 7 a.m. in Houston. I got an email saying they wanted to see me for an in-person interview.
We scheduled an interview for Friday afternoon. I called my boss in Houston at 7:30 a.m. to tell him that yes, I was going to Chattanooga that day. It’s okay, he knew it was a possibility, and he and my coworkers had planned for it.
So, to reiterate, I got the email at 7:15 a.m., and we left at 9:30 a.m. Derek loaded up the last few things into the truck and I quickly packed a duffle bag.
I drove our one car while Derek drove the truck and towed the second car on a trailer. It was a long 12 hour drive, made longer by having to tend to cats in the car, and Derek not being able to drive the speed limit with a large load.
We arrived in Chattanooga at 1:50 a.m., and I felt like I was arriving home. We crossed over the Tennessee River and we could see the other bridges all light up, with the lights reflecting in the water. It was beautiful. And we didn’t even get to see the mountains all around us yet because it was nighttime.
Our apartment is nice, and an upgrade from what we have in Houston. It is bigger, and townhome style with two floors. It’s also cheaper too. That’s the nice perk of moving to a smaller city.
I was in Chattanooga for three full days, and we packed them in full (and unpacked as well, ha.)
We visited the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus, and got to see where Derek’s office is and meet his colleagues. They were all nice and welcoming. The campus is beautiful too.
We also drove around a bit and got the lay of the land. We found the local grocery store, Walmart and tons of restaurants and coffee shops to check out in the future. We live north of the city proper, but Derek will still have an easy commute. Everything is a quick drive away.
We found a coffee shop that we both liked, called Milk&Honey. After eating there, we checked out nearby Coolidge Park, which is is a large green area on the banks of the Tennessee River. There is also a carousel in the park! We also checked out a couple of stores and found an ice cream shop. This was all in a neighborhood called Northshore.
On our last night together, we were coming home from shopping and Derek took a back road the last few miles home. It was heavily wooded, and the homes back there were gorgeous. On one front lawn we saw a deer and two babies. I thought, “Welcome home.”
By the time I left on Sunday morning, almost everything was in place, aside from things in the second bedroom, which is to be the office, and wall hangings, which Derek can get to in his own time.
As of today (August 21st) I am still waiting to hear if I got the job. I followed up earlier this week and they told me they are still in the process of interviewing candidates.
I am happy that it worked out this way though, even if the outcome ends up not being what I hoped for. It allowed me to come out and help with the moving process. While I am in Houston, I can picture where Derek is, both at home and at work. This also made the total separation only 38 days and not 42. And now we’re down to 22 days!