In four days, we met Mark's colleagues and shared meals with them. I can see why he is so happy with this placement. They are all wonderful people, opening themselves up to help us relocate, have our kids mess up their living room over dinner, and find us the very best school district for Sophie. These people are genuinely excited that Mark is joining their ranks. I heard from more than one person that the competition was especially fierce this year and that Mark stood above the crowd. I witnessed his posture change and a smile I haven't seen in a while return. Why did we have to wait so many years to land? Because THIS job is the one. THIS place is where we are meant to be and we just had to wait for it to become available. Yet another lesson in patience.
In four whirl wind days, we toured the area with a wonderful realtor and saw 25-30 homes. We learned what we qualify for in terms of financing and what houses go for (choke*gasp*cry*). How to explain our new city? Well, it's a big area. It's a big, compact, confusing, hilly area. For example, you can be in the city of X, in the township of Y and the county of Z...until you cross the street (and even the streets sometimes have 2 names). If you cross the street you may still be in city X, but you are no longer in township/borough Y or county Z. What's the house address? Well, technically you can list 3 different addresses and it will get to you. When we had dinner at Mark's colleague's home it was in the neighborhood of Garret Hill, in Bryn Mawr city, in Radnor Township, and the community of Rosemont, county of Delaware. Confused? So are they and they LIVE there. People who have lived there their whole lives are confused.
Why does it matter? Well, taxes can vary drastically depending on your address. Special education services vary but thankfully all the typical public schools in the area are excellent.
After day 2 of house hunting we met our old friends from Madison for dinner. (Father) Adam and Melissa now live in Media, which is not far from Mark's new job at all. Despite completing the same polisci program as Mark, Adam is now an Episcopalian priest at Christ Church. The last time we saw them they had one son but are now expecting number 3 very soon. We walked through the down town to a pizza joint and on the way back stopped for ice cream. Sophie and Mark danced outside of the pub next door that had a band featuring old rock tunes and we all recharged our batteries.
I know it was dark, but the church entrance is a thing of beauty, as is Soph.
Yada yada yada, once we had been in our umpteenth home and were physically and mentally unable to see one more, we finally headed into the city. Our van-o-love whirred by Independence Hall and we drove around a bit, just to get a sense of the city. The destination, however, was in south Philly at an infamous place called Geno's. Why? One must not visit the city of brotherly love and not get an authentic philly cheese steak sandwich.
Although it was only 4:30, the line wrapped around both sides of the triangular shaped iconic restaurant. Mark spotted rock star parking and stayed in the van while I braved the line. My camera and unabashed picture snapping alerted the locals that I was a tourist, but at least I knew how to order like a local, or so I thought.
(you really must click the above pic to get a better look at the staff t-shirts)
You order wit or witout (meaning with or without onions) and choose your cheese. Authentic S. Philly steaks come with cheese wiz. Yes, wiz. You can get other cheeses, such as provolone or American, but why would you do that? When it was my turn I made the rookie mistake of ordering freedom fries in the wrong window. d'oh! You order the steak first then fries later.
(even the ceilings are decorated)
(even the ceilings are decorated)
(the infamous sign on their ordering in English-only)Mouth watering deliciousness I tell ya!
I'm hungry all over again.
So, now we are home. Drained and wit-out housing in 3 months, yet. Still, in 4 days (not including 2 days of driving) we learned a tremendous amount about the area and the people. As I look around our current home all I can think about is purging the place of all unnecessary items and packing for our next adventure.