there’s one in every neighborhood

If you get the chance to live somewhere else–pick up roots and plant yourself somewhere new–I would mostly say do it. It can be a good experience. You might see things in a different light. As an outsider, your views and perspective might be welcomed by those you meet or connect with, as with readers of this wee blog of mine.

If you do relocate, I would resolutely advise that you research where you choose to live. By research, I mean requirements, restrictions, reviews. Anything that will help you make an informed decision. I wish I had done a better job of this when I picked up and moved to Jackson in October 2016. I say this because my first few months as a Mississippian, well, were kind of challenging. The short-term furnished apartment I rented before closing on my house had bed bugs (egad, seriously). I found myself bitten (so darn yucky) and quickly trashed almost all of my belongings I had stored temporarily in the apartment. What belongings I had left I picked up and hauled myself, two dogs, and cat to a hotel. And in the process of changing rooms in the hotel, I lost my darn cat. I was frantic and inconsolable. I couldn’t believe I moved 12 hours south of Chicago to lose my cat. I don’t have children, but my three pets are familia. They’re my home team. Some 72 hours later, hotel staff found my cat. Phew. Challenge averted. Or delayed as I found several months later.

It must have been February 2017. By that time me and my home team were home. Belhaven. A cute little bungalow not far from New Stage Theater. I had invested considerable money to make needed repairs to my property. Among them, replacing rotted wood shutters and front porch posts. I hadn’t yet gotten to the front yard, which looked miserable. I had three dead bushes in the front and needed to rip them out. One sunny Sunday morning, I found that someone did that for me and dumped them on my front lawn. Eeep. A few days later I came home from work to let my dogs out and noticed my mailbox was oddly full. Someone jammed my mailbox with enough dead leaves and twigs that the top mailbox flap was propped upright. Eeep again.

I wish I could tell you my experience ended there. It didn’t. A month later I came home to find a bright orange building code violation notice posted to my mailbox. Someone reported me to the city for violating Belhaven Historic District Design Guidelines by not filing the necessary paperwork to have exterior property repairs completed. Ugh.

It was March when my case/file was heard by members of Jackson’s Historic District Commission. What an embarrassing experience. I was called to a podium when my file (before and after photos of my home) was projected onto a large wall. I was asked to explain myself, which I attempted to. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know I needed to file paperwork to replace rotted wood,” I stated. A few commission members schooled me on the fact that the new front porch posts didn’t match the original ones, so I promised to have the necessary work done so that they did. Which I did. And they actually look quite nice.

Months later I was sharing my relocation trial by fire with my godmother who happens to be a feisty redhead. (More feisty than me, for what that’s worth.) I told her that I thought I knew who reported me to the city. “Oh Kristen, there’s one in every neighborhood,” she commiserated. Truth.