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Sometimes Everything Does Go Wrong
Gripping the armrest of my seat, I shut my eyes and breathed deeply to calm my nerves as the plane lurched from side to side in the night sky.
Reaching for God, I said a few silent Hail Marys as I thought to myself, “if I die on this plane, my mom is going to be PISSED.”
I’m not usually scared of flying or angering my mother.
But I’m usually not hiding something from my parents either.
This was back in August, my sister, Sammie and I were flying to South Carolina.
Sammie had given her work two months notice at the beginning of the month and we had started to plan our move out of small town California. Knowing we wanted to find a place we could settle into in South Carolina, we decided to make a trip across the country and look at apartments.
Sammie and I thought it would be fun to surprise my parents with our move. We imagined calling them from our new home once everything was done. Our parents planned to retire in South Carolina and worried about us constantly in our small town, so we believed they’d be so happy with the surprise.
Between Sammie and I, we’ve moved ten times around the United States. We were confident that we could handle moving from California to South Carolina without the support of our parents.
Flying in that metal tube in the turbulent sky was the first crack in my confidence.
In the sky, all I could think about was how my parents didn’t know I was on this plane. That they thought my sister and I were thousands of miles away, sleeping safely at home.
The man sitting in front of me didn’t make things better. He loudly proclaimed, “stop kicking my seat!” thinking the shakiness of the plane was me kicking his seat like a petulant child. I alternated the rest of the flight praying for my safety and cursing him.
We survived our red eye flight and though we had to wait an hour for our rental car, I could only feel a rush of joy when we finally reached our hotel. The air inside the lobby was thick with humidity and possibly mold, but I didn’t let that bother me. I started to dream of taking a shower and slipping in a quick nap before we toured the apartments.
The hotel had other plans.
As soon as we walked in, the woman at the front desk said, “We don’t have any rooms available.”
We explained to her that we had booked our reservation for the night before. She showed no emotion as she looked up our reservation.
“Your reservation was canceled.”
I staved off tears, my sister and I could only stare at her, but she didn’t offer any explanation.
Finally, my sister said, “what?”
It turns out, when you book a hotel room for the night before, you still have to call to check in at the appropriate time. Otherwise, they charge you a fee and cancel the whole reservation.
After many questions, the woman at the front finally told us we could rebook online if there was a room available.
Luckily, there was, and we were able to still check in early.
Between our flight being delayed, the car rental taking an hour, and our issues with the hotel, I barely snuck in a shower before Sammie and I went to look at our first apartment.
I knew we had an issue as soon as we walked in. The property manager was surprised to see us, and as she looked at her computer, she said she didn’t have our tour in her system.
At this point, I started to wonder if I was clueless with how technology worked.
She was nice enough to quickly show us their sample room, but afterwards, it seemed like she had no interest in renting out to us.
When she explained the application process to us, she highlighted that it was very strict.
Our income had to be 3x our rent when we moved in. We knew this would likely be a requirement, but we thought we could work around it if we had enough money in our savings or could pay a larger deposit.
“No. You have to have 3x income when you apply.”
This complicated things for us because my sister was planning to take a sabbatical after leaving her job. Since it was becoming clear this apartment was not the one, we decided to ask her all our questions about renting.
“What if we’re working remote,” my sister asked, as she technically had a job for another two months.
The property manager shook her head, “we will call your job to make sure you are actually working remote, because people from California will try to lie about it.”
Maybe she wasn’t trying to make it personal, but as my sister and I drove back to our hotel to rest before our other tours, we tried to understand why there was no flexibility around this requirement. If this was the case everywhere, we were going to have to reconsider our plans for finding a place before we moved.
Back in our damp hotel room, I sat on our bed, hand in my heads. The flight, the car rental, the hotel, the apartment complex, everything was piling up and I was going into a negative place, convinced the universe was telling us this was the wrong move. Worse, I couldn’t even call my parents, the two people in my life who always manage to have optimism in chaos.
While I was happy to dive into sadness and pessimism, Sammie was not.
“We simply need a new plan,” she told me.
That’s when I realized that even though everything was going wrong, it didn’t mean we were out of luck.
If all the apartments were equally as strict, we could always call our parents, confess our failed plan and ask for help. Worst case, our parents would love it if we moved in with them instead. We had a lot of support from our family, even if they didn’t know yet what we were plotting.
The inconveniences we ran into made me appreciate how blessed we are. We have two supportive parents and that no matter what, we would have a place to call home.
After Sammie’s pep talk, we decided to focus on staying optimistic and being open and honest with the places that we toured. The second half of the day went comically smooth.
All the other property managers were kind, friendly and took the time to explain all our options for applying for a lease. By the time we were done, we had an application in for our favorite place. A top floor apartment with six big windows facing beautiful, lush trees.
The trip almost ended on a high note, but there was one more challenge brewing in the Atlantic.
A storm climbing up the east coast caused thousands of flights to be canceled, including ours. Sammie and I were rebooked for separate flights. She would be flying through Charlotte to get home and I’d have to go through Dallas. We’d both land about 8 hours later than we had intended. Our flights would meet in Arizona in the evening, and we’d finish off our trip with a 3 hour drive home.
Despite this final challenge, I felt differently on the way home. The plane once again shook violently in the sky, but my heart was more at peace. I looked out the window and caught the beautiful red and oranges of the sunset. My eyes welled up with tears, but I wasn’t sad anymore. I felt joy and felt inspired.
Moving was hard. It’s always hard. It’s inevitable things will go wrong. But that also made me appreciate the good things I have in my life, specifically the support system I have around me.
At baggage claim, I ran to my sister and enveloped her in a big embrace.
“We made it!”
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