Writer’s Workshop: Moving South

I went to work for a company that was based in Atlanta in 1984. I worked out of the Chicago office, and that’s usually where I was, out of the office. By the end of 1986 I was tired and wanted to get off the road. With this company, the only way you did that was to move to the corporate office in Atlanta.

I went home after a trip to Atlanta, and told Mary that I’d like to move there. She was at first resistant to the idea: she had lived in Chicago all her life, as I had, and we lived upstairs from her parents. Plus, she had just started working on her Master’s in Library Science. We went back and forth on it, but eventually she agreed.

I started talking to the transfer coordinator in Chicago (i.e. the recruiter), and learned the procedure for making a transfer happen. Eventually, Mary and I would come here so that I could meet with the people at work and she could start working with a real estate agent to find us a place to live. They put us up in the hotel we always stayed at when in Atlanta, which was within a couple of blocks of the office, and I walked up there for my interviews.

The first day, I got back to the hotel before Mary. I was just relaxing when she came in. She didn’t say a word, but fell face-forward on the bed, not saying anything. After about 20 minutes, she got up, ran to the bathroom and threw up. I guess the real estate agent (who was a nice woman, don’t get me wrong) was under the impression that we wanted to pay much more than we actually were for a house. We sat down and I offered to forget the whole thing, go home, and likely look for a new job, but she didn’t want to do that. She was willing to make the move. I suggested that she sit down with the agent and tell her that we were thinking much less expensive, and that if she were unwilling to do that, we would ask to speak to another agent.

I came back to the hotel the next day and she was actually excited: she had found three houses that were all great candidates. One was a ranch-style house, the other two split-levels, and that the agent would be coming for us the next morning (Saturday) to take us so I could see them.

We weren’t especially enthused about the ranch house. It was a nice place, but not really what we had in mind. The second house was just about perfect. Then, I found a pen from my company somewhere in the house, and I asked the name of the people who lived there. Turns out the guy selling the house would be my boss. So that was out.

The third house was one that Mary and the agent hadn’t been able to see the day before. We were greeted by the current owners and their cat, and the more we looked at it, the better we liked it. We were in the master bedroom, and Mary said "John, this is perfect. Let’s make an offer."

To make a long story short, our offer was accepted, I chose one of the several jobs that were offered to me, we closed the last week of October 1987, the movers came on Halloween, and when they pulled out, so did we. We reached our new home at 3 AM Sunday and slept on the floor, because our furniture wouldn’t arrive for another couple of days…

22 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Moving South

  1. Do you currently live in Atlanta? For some reason, I thought you were in Chicago this whole time. I love these stories about you and Mary as a young married couple. I’ve never moved out of state so I can only imagine how nerve-racking that might feel to leave everything behind, but definitely adventurous!


    1. We left Chicago on Halloween 1987 and never moved back. I talk about Chicago a lot, but it’s the Chicago of my memories. I wouldn’t live there now if you paid me. It seems weird, but I’ve lived in Atlanta longer than Chicago…


  2. Hopefully, life will take a long overdue turn for the better in 2022. We all have to hope for better days!

    Many wishes to Mary and you for a Happy, Healthy, New Year!


  3. There are many things about Chicago that I like, but more that I don’t like that would keep me from moving there. And moving is such a hassle.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out


  4. Hi John – lovely to hear the back story … Mary is definitely a keeper! So pleased you had a happy move down for that time in Atlanta … heartwarming story, after a rocky start! Cheers Hilary


    1. Yes, it was. We weren’t going to stay in the apartment forever, and were at a point where we were already thinking about moving. I’m glad we did, because Illinois in general and Chicago in particular have had their troubles…

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      1. I hear ya about Illinois and Chicago. I am grateful we don’t live in the city of Atlanta. If’s a beautiful city but has its share of big city issues.


        1. There are very few cities in this nation that don’t have serious problems with crime. Police departments in urban areas are badly understaffed and underbudgeted while the money goes to cronies of the politicians and to projects that are more window-dressing than anything…


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