1. Apartment hunting. Not as fun as one might think, especially after three full days of driving.
2. GPS is a necessary evil. We would have been even more lost than we were if we didn't have it.
3. Don't ask how safe the area is. Few people will (they say "can") give you a real answer. They will tell you to call and get a Crime Statistics report. (We're pretty sure that just means the area is not safe enough.)4. Before you get to an area, plan. We dropped in on the Whipple family with barely an hour's notice. They were very kind, but I was embarrassed. Luckily, I had my handy-dandy Michael to ease my awkwardness; he's thrives on occasions such as these. (I do believe everyone should have one.)
5. This goes along with #4. Getting an apartment is not as easy as it is in Provo (at least the place we were staying). You can't just walk in and say, "Yes! We want this apartment and would like to move in this very hour!" They have to do a credit check, background check, and Entergy has to come in and turn on electricity before you move in.
6. Plus you have to have renter's insurance. It's not an option.
7. Watch out for those darn one-way streets. They get me every time.
8. But luckily, most people are very kind. "Did you come the wrong way?" a kind man asked, and then gently showed me the way to get right on out of there.
9. It's exciting to run into the missionaries. I just about had a heart attack when I saw them pulling out of the same apartment complex. And then again at McDonald's.
On Thursday (the 31st), we spent the day looking at apartments. It was long. We were tired. And our car was (and is) still full of all our stuff. It's more than slightly frustrating not being able to see out the back window. But we met a plethora of sweet Southerners who did everything they could to help us.
Making a decision on where you'll be living for the next 7 months of your life is not that easy, at least for a stress-case like myself. We just couldn't stop: What if the place was around the corner? What if we could find an apartment closer to Michael's work? What if... the list goes on and on. But we decided and signed Friday morning. This stuff is permanent, people; we have to pay out our entire lease if we end up leaving.
We drove across the Mississippi and past the Monsanto plant where Michael will start work on Monday, and then passed some of the plantations and stopped when we saw a couple of "For Rent" signs. Michael knocked on the door and met MJ, a single woman living with her dog and 4 cats who keeps up the yards of her neighbors so that the price of her condo will stay high. She raved about the area and the people (at least on her street... you never know about the next street over) and offered to call the guy leasing the next condo over to get us a price. Everyone we talk to wants to make sure we're taken care of. Don't worry, Mom. We're still alive and well.