Wow. It’s really been over a month since we moved to Szeged – time is weird; and it’s certainly gotten away from me. We’ve been busy, crazy busy and while there has been so much to share, there’s also just not been the energy or time to do that adequately, or sometimes at all. So I’ve been pretty quiet, and you’ve been kind and understandably patient. Or maybe that’s me painting with a patient-brush when I’ve often felt anything but patient! 🙂
Way back on Sunday, May 9th we loaded our car with suitcases of immediate necessities, bags full of dog beds, toys and food and waved goodbye to Budapest and our beloved old apartment near Margit Hid and the Danube river that we’ve called home since 2013. The sun was shining and we were hopeful and excited as we arrived, climbing out with the dogs on leashes, parked across the street because there were construction cars in our driveway. That excitement bubble popped pretty quickly, as things had not progressed as far as they’d been promised to us or as they’d looked from just the weekend before. There was still no water or electricity in the house, and the new floors had not been done as early in the previous week as they should have been – half of the house was inaccessible until those newly varnished floors were better dried. So we stood there in our yard, dogs on leashes, with no place to sleep, or even enter and sit out of the sun that had been so pleasant before we were stuck in it. The plan had been for Anna, me and the dogs to camp out in the house that night, as the guys turned around and returned to Budapest for one more night to be there for the following day of loading up the moving trucks full of our stuff. It was mostly to get the dogs safely out of the way, but also to see and enjoy the house all finished and still empty.
Our house on May 9th, the day we arrived to move in – bathroom & kitchen still in pieces. But we loved their dedication – that ladder is how they kept working on the upstairs bathroom as they couldn’t access the stairs due to the new varnish on the floor! And we could only walk in socks for the parts of the house we could access.
Family to the rescue, Norbi’s mom was already planning to ride back to the city with Norbi and Shiloh to spend a couple days with his sister Nora and her boys – so her place was free for us to crash in, such a blessing in a pinch! Anyu only has a tiny one bedroom flat with a pull out couch in her living room, so it worked, but just. Norbi would spend two nights back in our emptying flat in Budapest, Shiloh just one (it took them two trips of two 20-foot trucks each to move all our stuff – the largest size allowed inside Hungarian cities). By Tuesday, there was water turned on, power, and all our stuff piled in mostly two rooms – but we could start the official ‘moving in’ process, we could sleep in our new home finally. It was only a few days’ delay, really. I came to realize, as my frustration felt out of relation to those ‘few days’; that I had to grieve something I’d been planning on and vastly looking forward to. I did not get my New House Honeymoon period – getting to walk into our fully finished and ready home, with my amazing new shiny floors – empty of any furniture still, with plenty of room to swirl and dance. I didn’t get to take a video walking through to share with so many who can’t see it person either. Missing that really hurt, and I admit, had me almost mad about sharing anything else for a time…plus, well, we were moving into a construction zone still.
Most of the rooms in the house could not have anything solid (like boxes) set in them, as the floors still needed to ‘breathe’ when our stuff arrived from Budapest, plus lots of traffic was discouraged – so windows were used ingeniously and our living room and bedroom became a child’s ‘box fort’ dream! Sadly making use of the moving company for all the lifting and placing boxes in proper rooms didn’t work out as we’d planned.
Szeged is in southern Hungary, a border town with Serbia, which is the start of ‘the Balkans’ or a collection of countries on the Balkan Peninsula on the Mediterranean coast. While not a part of this exact geographic location, Szeged has much more of the flavor and relaxed attitude of the Mediterranean, which is part of why we love it so much. Living in Los Angeles we became familiar with the Spanish-inspired (also along the Mediterranean) concept of ‘mañana’ – literally translated as ‘tomorrow’, but actually meaning ‘any day beyond today’. It’s a very relaxed, not at all rushed, concept that something will get done, eventually. Our construction workers have this Mediterranean concept down in spades! Though, it was hilarious to see how much quicker they worked with our homeless family actually in their face, and then moving in and in their way – so that probably helped things progress a bit quicker? 🙂
Still, we spent our first two weeks with construction happening all around us, with tools lying about and doors open; needing to keep our poor dogs confined to just one or two rooms at a time, on top of their stress from the move in general. That was probably the most stressful part of the whole move – the dogs’ stress, blind Gizmo’s especially. He was calmest when directly wherever we were, while not being confined in any way – so if we could be in the same room as him, with his harness not needed, just the door shut. Norbi is his especial favorite, and Norbi was the busiest and the one most in and out, plus he’d been mostly ‘gone’ for those upheaval days at the beginning, not sleeping with us at his mom’s place. So Gizmo was thrilled to have Norbi ‘back’ and desperately wanted to follow his god about, but was often stuck away in a room with the less favorite people. The dogs’ stress and disturbed routines also meant some indoor pee messes and waking up often in the middle of the night, yawn. Though once they’ve been free to wander, explore and learn their new home, both old dogs are doing great. Gizmo is slowly sleeping better at night finally, and Stitch especially loves his easy access to a backyard – morning sun-bathing on the back patio is his favorite.
Mañana might be the general attitude, but the work being done has been excellent, and we’re really and honestly thrilled and amazed at the transformation our house has undergone. And honestly, when one considers all they’ve done, and how it didn’t really begin until January – they got so much done in just a few months. And while the inside is finally finished (with just a couple hiccups to be fixed), the outside has been happening since we arrived and looks to keep several companies busy for most of the summer. I think we can say this house has never looked so good – and its yard will be able to say the same soon!
I’ve not shared many pics of outside, because it’s rather an embarrassing mess. Though, it’s blank-canvas potential was honestly a high selling point for me personally! Besides some trees, there was not much in the way of a ‘yard’ besides weeds and old, dying grape vines. Directly opposite our house is a dilapidated old shed/car port/ falling down shack. We plan to eventually build a proper two-car garage in its place, with a Mother-In-Law apartment attached. But for now, it’s getting torn down…mañana. 🙂 We also did the hard and scary thing of cutting down several trees and a row of ancient and over-grown shrubs with a scrawny pine tree in their midst. Oh I debated and hemmed and hawed about that decision, especially the big cherry tree. I love trees. We did keep the huge old walnut tree, and one mystery fruit tree (maybe a sort of plum? we should know soon), and I plan to plant a couple trees. Still, it was such a relief to see the yard with them gone – wow, what a difference! We made the right decision, but goodness it was hard.
So this is where we are now – interior construction is done, most of our living spaces are settled and I’m in the fun ‘decorating’ and making curtains stage. Outside is busy; with the painting of our whole house being under prep work for weeks and about to see the actual paint go on the new plaster. Our back patio and a side walkway are getting their new tiles installed currently – well, the side is happening now; the back patio won’t happen until probably July as the rest of the tiles won’t arrive until then – mañana. They began to dismantle the old shed by taking down the roof, the tiles of which have now sat in neat rows in the middle of our yard for over a week, waiting for more work to continue ‘holnap’, Hungarian for ‘tomorrow’, which in Szeged you know, means, mañana. 🙂 But goodness, watching them climb up onto the roof beams and take it apart while standing on it was scary and impressive, so they can take their time between work days! And if you want some recommendations for work in Szeged, we have only highest praise for two carpenters and a tile/brick man extraordinaire. But um, we’ve asked the painter to just leave us the paint and not come back to do anymore ‘touch ups’, enough said. Norbi has been joking all along that this whole new house thing has been a test, or lesson, or something, for me in regards to patience – hah! I’m just sliding into our new Mediterranean lifestyle, breathing deep of the… plaster dust?, sighing as the birds tweet in the backyard in between the tile saw… it may be slightly unsettled still, but it’s ours, it’s not the big city and it’s home – now, mañana and beyond.
Coming soon – some Before/After of specific rooms – first up will be the downstairs bathroom. 🙂