Ryan and I journeyed to Tennessee last week to begin preparations on our new zoo… I mean, our new HOUSE. We are currently residing in three particular movies: We Bought a Zoo, Under the Tuscan Sun, and Steel Magnolias. We Bought a Zoo - our version would be more appropriately named We Brought the Zoo to Tennessee and Then Looked at Each Other, Screaming in Disbelief, “WHAT IN THE WORLD HAVE WE DONE”? Although that would probably be the longest movie title in history.
Under the Tuscan Sun - For those who have seen the movie, our new house is pretty darn close to the dilapidated state of the villa she purchases in the movie. We fell in love with the land and saw potential in the house. The reality is, the house needs A LOT of work. There was no paint, no flooring, no phone jacks, no cell service, no kitchen, no trim, no nothing, well not completely true, we had dry wall and some very strange oddities left behind by the extremely wealthy owner. For example, we are now proud owners of an oxygen portal installed straight into the wall which aided the wealthy Mrs. during her health decline years ago.
We now also own our very own cemetery, which holds the remains of the wealthy Mrs., admittedly a little bit cool and a little bit creepy…
Despite the sad condition of the house, we love it and officially sealed the deal to purchase it.
Steel Magnolias – I herald from a decent size city in Michigan, I have no idea what the population is, but I have numerous options when it comes to dining out, entertainment, malls, and many large movie theaters. In my new hometown I have a Walmart - 30 miles from my house - granted, it is a Super Center Walmart, but I’m thinking my clothing options may have just decreased considerably. There’s also a Piggly Wiggly AND a Family Dollar if I ever find myself needing a few alternatives. I knew I was in trouble as we came down to the final hour of our drive and every little town we came upon I was frantically googling the name of the town along with “mall?”, “gym?” “Family Dollar?” “Cato?” “Deb?” “Goodwill?” SOMETHING! ANYTHING! GOOD LORD! HOW DO THESE PEOPLE SURVIVE??!
The thought that I may have made a slightly rash decision was well enforced when I was asked three separate times by well coifed southern women “Honey, why in the world would you move here? No one moves here…” and I started to wonder, actually panic a wee bit, thinking “Why did I move here?” deep sigh….
The first evening we pulled up to our new palace, after a 12 hour day of driving, and we were confronted with a pack of bats, (I think they roam in packs?? Correct me if I’m wrong) circling around our car. After finally unlocking the gate and driving up the wheat field/driveway we arrived, set up our trailer and discovered that we didn’t have any water. After numerous attempts we relinquished our desire for cleanliness and gave in to the sweet smelling stench of one another, in the trailer, in a small bed, both of us hovering over our respective edges in an attempt to avoid all touching– not the most romantic night we’ve had together. We planned to either shower first thing in the morning when we found water or plan B - check into one of the luxurious hotel options, such as the classy Pine Hotel we had passed earlier in the day. We managed to find water the next morning, but no hot water, not even luke warm water, just pretty much frigid, icicle type water. We took cold showers and pretended like we were part of the other 90% of the world that isn’t American. The next few days we worked hard, painting 7 rooms, ordered all of the flooring, trying to figure out a school for our children (something we probably should have considered before buying the house), health insurance, doctors, dentists, hospitals, unpacked the trailer, and managed to get a few blessed moments of peace and serenity when “them Skeeters” weren’t eating us, admiring the beautiful views of the Tennessee River from our patio.
I have gone from complete exhilaration, to complete bewilderment repeatedly in this process of new home ownership. I love the house, absolutely love it, but it is SO out of my comfort zone and it is so much work. At times, I’ve wondered if Ryan and I are just gluttons for punishment. It’s hard enough moving 7 young children, but to move them, one severely handicapped child, to an entirely new state, a new house, a house that has absolutely nothing ready in it, and a small town where we don’t know a single soul seems like it may just be bordering on insanity. I feel like an alien in my new hometown, a strange girl from the “North” with an odd accent that everyone peers at through squinted vision, wondering who and what I’m doing invading their territory. I know, in my heart, that this move is so much more than meets the eye. It is about solidifying ourselves as a family, relying on one another, and truly learning to embrace each other and the roles we play in the Ronne clan. A lot of it is about starting new as a family - a new for all of us. We believe that we are supposed to be in Tennessee, and we usually have a peace about it. Nothing good ever came about without some blood, sweat, and tears, and this home has become a symbol of our beautifully, blended family which has also found its beauty through blood, sweat, and tears. We want to raise our family in a particular way, void of all of the commercialism in the world, teaching our children to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation and the reward that comes from some hard work (that lesson could take a while). We want to get away from the wastefulness of our society and teach by example where our food comes from through having the land and the resources to raise and grow our own. We desire to live simply, no cable, limited cell phone usage, (that’s not necessarily by choice but more of an AT&T decision), no microwave, yes you read that right, NO microwave, the simple life. It’s a lifestyle we feel called to and a lifestyle we are usually excited about embracing. It’s a life that will be well earned at the end of the day - zoo creatures, dead people, and all of the steely magnolias I encounter along the way.
Just keep livin!!