Within the month, we’d closed on our house and had a big rented truck packed with all of our worldly belongings. We didn’t know exactly where we were headed. Blaine had great memories of Pennsylvania and the cost of living was reasonable. We looked at a map, considered as much info as we could find online, found a church, area within a few hours of Blaine’s family in New Jersey, and chose Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania as our final destination. Blaine’s pickup went on the dolly behind the rented truck and I followed behind in our car with the girls. I watched the topper to Blaine’s truck flop with every bounce, my ficus tree (this one!) in the back window, all the way to Pennsylvania. Ah, the memories.
We pulled into Wilkes Barre a few days later, found a motel room, and started calling on ads in the newspaper to find an apartment. We met one kind soul, saw a few apartments she had ready, were told that despite never not having a year contract signed, she was willing to do it for us, and we moved in. We had the smallest space we’ve lived in yet: 2 bedrooms, a super-small kitchen, a tiny bathroom, and a living room. It was an upstairs apartment (one of three in a large 3-family home) up 21 stairs straight off the street. The couch wouldn’t fit upstairs, so it went into the shared basement and we sat on kitchen chairs and the one rocking chair we owned, taking turns each night who got the comfy chair. It was definitely an interesting time in our marriage.
We found out days after we moved in that we were now living on the most dangerous street in the city. We found out this news days before looking outside one day to find 50 cops swarming the area.
Turns out, a man who was wanted for theft of a pizzeria who then stole a cop car to get away had relatives living nearby. The cops searched the back of Blaine’s pickup, guns drawn. Nothing. We did have a black Coleman sleeping back disappear out of the basement that week. I still wonder.
Blaine quickly found a job working at a donut store pouring coffee and selling donuts. The job of his dreams, to be sure.
He wanted to work for a newspaper as a photographer. He flooded the local area with resumes and poured coffee at ridiculous AM hours to help stretch our savings.
A few months after we moved to Pennsylvania, Blaine was hired on part time at the Hazleton Standard Speaker, half an hour south of Wilkes Barre. He worked night shift there, mornings at the donut store, and we started talking of moving south to Hazleton. Gas was killing us.
God was leading us during this time, to be sure. Craziness was ironed out, time after time. We spent 5 months in Wilkes Barre before moving to Hazleton. We found a job managing an apartment complex in Hazleton that provided a free apartment and occasional extra income and made up for Blaine “only” working 36 hours a week. We found a church to settle into there, made a few friends, and “enjoyed” working with some interesting tenants at the 32-apartment complex we were now managing. Oh, the stories. Insanity. Some people are crazy, I tell you.