Getting to the Barn

June 4, 2011

You always hear about these fabulous people who up and left their dreary careers, risked it all and were met with the greatest success of their life. It seems all of the really successful icons took a chance and somehow made it big. I personally have always wondered exactly how those people were able to do that. What stepping stones in their life led them to the point where they were able to chase their dreams?

I’m not saying that we’ve made it big, nor that we will (although wouldn’t that be such a great story?!), but if you are anything like me you are probably wondering how two 26 year olds are able to take a “break” and live in a barn for a while until they figure their lives out.

A little back story (feel free to skip to the end, this is the boring part). I fortunately, or unfortunately maybe, have always felt the need to work. I got a worker’s permit at the age of 14 and spent my summer days and weekends selling candy and souvenirs to the happy tourists visiting the Biltmore Estate. I took one semester off before starting a riveting career waiting tables at Carrabbas in college, then hung up my apron and order pad to take a position as a retail coordinator for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco (snuff, dip, skoal for those of you unfamiliar). After I had had enough with homeless people getting a little too close for comfort at the various sketchy gas stations I serviced I moved on to an internship with GE Sealants & Adhesives (caulk…and yes there were a great many jokes made during that time in my life). I spent a summer setting up product demonstrations all over the Southeast then landed a desk job at the corporate office as a marketing co-op. A year and a half later I ended my contract, took a trip to Europe with my now Husband, and started my first “big girl” job before even graduating college. That was June 2007. July 2007 I closed on my first house at the ripe age of 22. April 2008 I became engaged to Husband. September 2009 we were married. Present day we have two dogs, a retail buying and product development career, a Juris Doctorate and a never ending mortgage to show for ourselves.

When the time came for Husband to begin applying for law firm jobs we stopped for a second to ask ourselves where do we want to go exactly. Unfortunately that little dream session was a complete waste of time as the economy took a dive for the deep end and attorney jobs became few and far between. It was no longer a question of where did we want to go, it was a question of where could he get a job. It is common knowledge that if you do not get an internship the summer after your 2L year, it’s a very slim chance that you will find a full time job after graduation. At least not easily. After receiving a rejection letter for every.single.application he sent out we were a little low on hope. On Christmas Eve while nibbling on ham rolls at my grandmothers the recruiter from the Air Force JAG called and offered Husband an internship. I cried, he sighed, and we rushed to the computer to pick which base at which he wanted to complete his summer internship. I won’t go into long unnecessary details, but due to some less than desirable circumstances he ended up having to go to Dover, Delaware. Six months of school plus a summer of sleeping on an air mattress in a poorly lit and depressing house later Husband was back at home and back to applying for full time firm jobs again.

Now graduated, a semi-hopeful yet recently dashed shot at an attorney position at the largest firm in Asheville, and a standing offer of only 15 AF JAG positions offered worldwide, Husband’s nose is back in the books as he spends the summer preparing for the BAR. I have driven myself crazy getting our house market ready in just two little weeks. And we are both exhausted.

If you are still reading, you may be asking yourself (if you have internal conversations as I do) but why the move to Asheville and where does the barn come in??

Good question self! The JAG requires a four year commitment. You do get to submit a “dream sheet” of base choices but you are not guaranteed to get any of them. When submitting our dream sheet we decided to go big or go home. We have always wanted to live abroad for a few years and what better time than when we are young and on the government’s dime? We made all 10 of our choices overseas bases. Given that most JAGs do at least get one of the bases on their list it’s possible that we could be anywhere from Italy to Japan this time next year. Knowing that in the next four years time with our family and the ability to choose where we want to live will be more or less non-existent, we decided to take advantage of the few months between the BAR exam and JAG training to soak it all in as much as possible. The barn was a generous offering from Husband’s parents who worked like mules remodeling it into the gorgeous mountain suite it is today. No rent, a room with a view and easy access to our family, we wholeheartedly said YES and THANK YOU!

While Husband has been in law school I made it my goal to reach a certain savings amount by the time of his graduation. The money was either going to paying his student loans back or worst case scenario for us to live on until he could get a job. Living on one income is not easy. And it’s not always pleasant, but we do believe it enriched our lives. When we say we appreciate the little things, we REALLY mean we appreciate the little things. There were times when we drank the $2.99 a six pack beer from Trader Joes because we really didn’t have the money to spend on the $10 six packs of craft beers we really wanted. There were countless nights when we ate at home and met friends just for a drink or dessert because dinner AND drinks wouldn’t fit into the budget. 98% of our meals are eaten at home. Shopping is a foreign word we don’t understand. And we save all year for one good vacation. But honestly we have lived a very comfortable and very happy life. That’s not to say that we don’t look forward to days without watching every penny that leaves our pocket, but life has been good. Really good actually. (And with a lot of thanks to our parents and grandparents for the help along the way!)

So thanks to careful budgeting and our amazing families, we have the freedom to make this move and try to live life a little.

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