Monday, November 1, 2010

Our Story - Year One

We moved to Knoxville after we were married.  The plan was to buy an existing chiropractic office and live happily ever after...just 3 hours away from our families -far enough away that they would have to make plans to come see us but close enough that it wouldn't be too much trouble to make a quick visit.  

We liked Knoxville.  We called it "our town".  We would drive around aimlessly just trying to get our bearings and to become familiar with our surroundings and the roads.  We wanted to know it inside and out.  Ha!  That didn't take us very long.  Knoxville just seems big. 

Brian had started working with the doctor we were going to buy the practice from in August, three months before we were married.  I got a wonderful job at the University of Tennessee, in the Career Services department,  doing data entry, helping host companies that came to the school to interview soon-to-be graduates and answering the phones.  Once, during a very busy day answering 6 different phone lines, instead of answering  with, "University of Tennessee.  Career Services.  Can you hold please? or How can I help you?"  I said, "University of Tennessee.  Career Services.  Can I hold you?"   Thank goodness the gentleman on the other end didn't say Yes!

We were (mostly) cruising along well.

For two months.  

In those two months we figured out that the practice Brian was looking at buying wasn't really all it had been made out to be.  It was in a kind of remote location and Brian and the other doc had very different personalities.  Dr. Bridwell* was a dirty-joke telling kind of guy who piped country music throughout the office and his adjusting style was a little different than Brian's.  Basically, it was going to be hard to keep the existing patients and, because of the location, it was going to be even harder to bring in new ones.  So, we decided that it would not be in our best interest to buy his practice but Dr. Bridwell told Brian that he could work there until he was able to open his own office.  Very generous, right?

Then, on New Year's Eve, my sweet husband came home from work and told me, "I don't have a job.  Dr. Bridwell told me that today was my last day.  That he didn't want me on the books for the new year."  Whaaa?!  I was working for 6 dollars and 73 cents an hour.   Our rent was cheap at just $500 a month for our 562 square foot apartment, where we swore the guy above us was bowling every night, but we both had student loans, a couple of credit cards, groceries to buy and a car payment and insurance.  And $6.73 an hour wasn't going to pay for those things.  

Uncharacteristically, I didn't panic.  We celebrated the new year and decided he would have to find something part-time and we would have to come up with a business plan and get a loan a.s.a.p.. 

But banks don't give business loans to newlyweds with no collateral and big debts. So, Brian worked part-time at Williams-Sonoma at the mall and did all the laundry and house cleaning while I worked full-time at UT.

In February, my mom came for a visit for her birthday.   After she had left that weekend, Brian and I were lying in the bed in the dark and he asked me, "How long do you see us staying here in Knoxville?"   My reply was, "Five years?"  and he said, "Then let's go home!"  He flipped on the light and got out a map of the Atlanta metro area and we made a big red circle around the city and surrounding suburbs and decided he would look for an associateship or something similar within that circle.  

Lo and behold! an associate position that he had heard about before he graduated was still available in McDonough.   The doctor that owned it was a wonderful guy and he and his wife lived in this great big, beautiful house on a lake in an exclusive neighborhood. His practice was thriving and in the heart of downtown McDonough, which was in one of the fastest growing counties in America.  It looked so perfect!  He took the job and worked there for 50% of the collections he brought in to the office.  

A friend of ours very graciously offered me a job at her company working the front desk and we got a pretty, brand-new apartment just 15 minutes from Brian's work.  After a few months I accepted an administrative position at the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents in the Budget Department  and got to work just down the street from the capitol in Atlanta.  Things were a little tight financially that first year but we were back home and just an hour from each of our families.

We celebrated our 1st year anniversary in Blowing Rock, North Carolina and bought dining room furniture as our present to eachother (Tradition says to buy paper and paper is made from wood, soooo...well, that's how we rationalized it).

 What did we learn from that first year?
  • Be flexible - circumstances can change so quickly it'll make your head spin.
  • Don't panic! - No matter what, we weren't going to be homeless or go hungry.  Our families would be sure of that and did!  Thanks, Jim and Dixie, for all that grocery money and for paying our car insurance.
  • A little humility goes a long way - Don't let pride keep you from doing an about face and abandoning a plan that isn't working.  And don't let it keep you from accepting that $100 bill your father-in-law slips you now and then.
  • Invest in earplugs - apartment living means that you're going to live underneath someone who likes to move furniture in the middle of the night or who has noisy romantic encounters the floor above you.
I've asked Brian to pick a song that he feels represents each year and to write a quick post corresponding to each of my posts for the Our Story series.
Here's his contribution. - click here.

    *name changed to protect myself.  ; )