The plan has always been 2007: Arkansas or Bust. So we thought we'd put the house on the market in January, sell it around the end of February, push closing back a few weeks, close end of March, and the kids and I would join Keith in Arkansas in March or early April. No big deal, plenty of time, no rush.
So we put the house on the market, and it sold to the first person who looked at it. It's not the best house in the world, but the location is awesome, and we did some minor superficial things that made it look nice and new, so it sold really quickly. But we were definitely surprised. We close on February 23, and have to be out that same day.
I went ahead and gave my notice for the end of February, with the stipulation that I may need to stay until mid-March if absolutely necessary. Meaning I'll be finding a hotel here in Nashville for 1 - 3 weeks after we vacate the house.
I'm just shocked that it's all happening all of a sudden. When we left Bentonville, I had no idea when we'd be back, but it didn't seem to matter at the time. We were childless and young and free, essentially, to pick up and move at whim (which we did, twice). But then we started having babies, and we got on the 2-year plan, which has worked out almost exactly as planned, except for the minor detail of being stretched into the 4.5-year plan. But now the end is near, and I kind of feel like life is just starting. I've worked while we put Keith through school (he's worked too, of course), and now I get the payoff, staying home with the kids and living back at home with family and friends near. It's kind of like starting over because the move from two incomes to one will be tight, but so worth it.
I'm an island here in Nashville. No ties, no family, a small circle of work friends. I can't wait to see family and friends on a weekly basis, not just once or twice a year.
The next few weeks will be wild, as Keith leaves for Arkansas this weekend, then the next weekend I'll be taking one last business trip to Chicago (with big plans to spend a day with Charles!), and then the next weekend after that, the kids and I are headed to Arkansas to celebrate Nanny's birthday. Then Keith will ride back with us, sign the papers on the house, and take the kids to Arkansas for the final time. I'll stay behind until I've fulfilled my obligations at work, and make the drive to Arkansas alone the last time. Then we'll start house-hunting, and hopefully find something amazing right away. Sounds scary, and busy, and fun.
On another note entirely, I love to hear stories from the kids about Keith, what he does with them when I'm not home. I love to hear all the fun things he does with them, because he's a great daddy. Yesterday in the car Owen was telling me that Keith made up a song about his gumball machine, and each color of gumball had its own verse that rhymed. I asked Owen to sing some of it to me, and he sang something like, "The gumball that's green is very mean," and so on. Then he sang, "And the orange gumball, nothing rhymes with orange, so he has to stay in the machine." I can just hear Keith making that up as he goes. Owen thought it was the best song ever. I have to admit, it was pretty clever.