The wheels went into motion on January 9, 2022, when I applied for a federal position with the US Navy in Millington, Tennessee. The application was submitted eight days before Jessica’s scheduled bunion surgery. It usually takes months just to hear back from the Feds, so no worries, but according to Jessica because of the circumstances, “this would likely be the one.”
Bunion surgery is a painful process and it can take several months just to get comfortable walking again. Moving to Tennessee would require selling our home in Springfield, Oregon, and relocating more than 2,300 miles across the country. A lot of packing, driving, unpacking, and several trips to donation drop-offs, especially after one of us having just had foot surgery.
The surgery went well on January 18. First few weeks were as expected with Jessica confined to the bed upstairs experiencing long bouts of nerve pain and nausea when having to get up. Though the pain made progress feel slow at times and sometimes non-existent, on February 21, Jessica was given permission from the surgeon to start placing weight on her foot (in small increments) and wearing shoes. Great news, which we anticipated and had the car packed and ready to go for a 6-hour drive north to the San Juan Islands in Washington for a few days.
That night while staying in Anacortes, Washington, I received a conditional job offer, pending a preliminary background check, for the position with the US Navy. Much sooner than expected.
When we returned home from Washington, excitement settled and a planning rush to figure out our next steps commenced. Notifying family, friends, supervisors, calling our realtor, Sherri Smith, packing, donation center trips, scheduling PODS moving service, finishing last minute work projects, and federal fingerprinting, which turned out to have its own complications. All this just days after Jessica was given permission to start using her foot more. She made her first hobble at Lime Kiln Point State Park on February 23 when attempting to catch a glimpse of Orcas swimming past Lime Kiln Lighthouse.
My last full day working at the Eugene Police Department was on my birthday, April 5, and we left Springfield, Oregon, for Atoka, Tennessee, the day before Jessica’s birthday on April 7, and were already in Salt Lake City, Utah, visiting our friend Justin on April 8. We were on the road for 12 days, altogether crossing eight states before arriving at the Woodlands Apartment in Atoka, Tennessee, on April 18, a day longer than planned due to severe storms and tornado warnings in Arkansas. Welcome to the mid-south where we just had -1 degree weather and a 70 degree day a week later on New Year’s Day.
No issues getting to the apartment only minor inconveniences with the living arrangement. Would have preferred a room on a lower level opposed to the upper third floor as we had a Jessica who was still experiencing serious discomfort with her foot when having to exert weight or distance on it. We never fully unpacked, and lived most of our two months there in the living room, used plastic and paper dishware, and sat on camping chairs. Last of the moderate grievances, an unsettling clinking noise in the attic that we mentioned to management but it continued to persist. We were ready to find a place and didn’t feel the need to make it “home.” That being said, Tennessee gets HOT and I made extensive use of the resident swimming pool even after we moved out and had time left on the lease.
We had a sizeable agenda our first week in Tennessee before starting work on April 25 that included getting a few necessities from the pod and finding a storage facility to unload the pod to avoid heavy monthly payments. We also needed to get Jessica a car and finish closing paperwork on our home in Oregon.
Easy enough except not knowing anyone and trying to find where to go for help can feel chaotic when you’re not from the area, and differences in etiquette and people can create a bit of culture shock. First day driving into town we saw a man getting harassed by a bird. This type of occurrence can make you question all sorts of things, but we had come too far at this point to turn around and if settling into our new habitat meant the occasional attack by a wild animal, we would just have to brace for the worst. Things are never quite as scary as the thoughts that are put into our head by the mischievous little people who work inside our brain.
We made an offer on our current home in Munford, Tennessee, in mid May and moved in on June 17, 2022, exactly 15 years to the date that we moved to Springfield, Oregon. Jessica’s foot has recovered well and we went on a 5-mile hike on New Year’s Day at Fort Pillow State Park. Ready to get this 2023 party started and we look forward to starting the year in Tennessee.