At least I have Texas nice

Tessa Kriesel
Tessa Kriesel

I don't even know where to begin with this one. To catch you up, we moved to Denver, CO in August 2020 after accepting a job at Twitter that required relocation. After COVID blew up, I really should have pushed back on this move and demanded whether it was necessary, because it wasn't. They had a goal to hire more remote employees before COVID even broke out. Why was I even asked to move to my version of hell?

Denver, CO was my version of Hell

Yes, Denver, CO was my version of hell. Why? I can't be 100% sure, but I will tell you this—the most self absorbed, mean people live in Denver, CO and I want nothing to do with it. It's might be COVID, but I don't think it is. I think it's the transplants that have come to Colorado from other self-absorbed places and destroyed any bit of kind Colorado culture that did exist.

If you don't know me, then you wouldn't know that I give without expectations. I do this in my career, with my family, with my friends and with complete strangers I see on the street. If we are not kind to each other, then why in the world are we existing and engaging with other humans? To me, there is no reason to treat someone poorly, and when I do it in a heat-of-the-moment reaction, I feel awful for days. I need to be surrounded by people like me, otherwise, all of my positive energy is legit drained and I have no kindness to give. Basically, Tessa isn't, well, Tessa.

A few months in Denver and my kindness was gone. I was becoming a monster that only saw the bad in everything. Twitter didn't help either. Gosh, did I hate that job, but that's a story for another day. There isn't any sign of kindness up in that joint, not for their developer customers anyways.

Where do we move to that has kind people?!

So my husband and I started thinking about where we move to. Do we go back to Minnesota? We wanted Minnesota nice so badly, but I wasn't so keen on living in the tundra 6-9 months out of the year. So we started looking at Texas and Florida. Where do the kindest people we know, live?!

The first place we decided to check out was Waco, TX. Now before you get all judgey about my decision, Jeff and I are both from a small town of less than 300 people. Rural & small city life is my sweet spot. We wanted a community thats small, but close, and care deeply about one another.

Waco, TX here we come!

Thanks to WordPress, I had met someone who lived in Waco, and I leveraged that opportunity to learn as much as I could (shout out to the awesome Cory Webb here). By luck, his dad happened to be a real estate agent, and wowee did it feel like fate that we met Danny Webb.

Danny Webb should be the face of Waco, TX. We had 2.5 days to absorb and see as much of Waco as we possibly could to decide if this was the place for us. And Danny did not disappoint. He shared his passion for his community, his school district, his amazing wife (who I can't wait to meet, she sounds a lot like me), and so much history about the area that I don't think I will ever retain all of it. But it gave us the data points and information we needed to decide if Waco was right for us. Spoiler alert: It was a dream and continues to prove so now that we're here.  

So we started planning our much-needed departure from Colorado. We fell in love with a house when we visited and ended up putting an offer in. It was smaller than we wanted, house and yard, but we desperately wanted to get to Texas. As we started diving into the mortgage process, I began losing hope in our credit system.

Our credit system is very broken

I found out that a hospital I visited in May of 2020 with a concussion, sent me to collections in July 2020, even though I had insurance that they had on file to bill. When it landed in the collection agency, they should have checked to see that this debt was only 2 months old and not legally allowed to collect on. But instead they sent it to legal, to pursue payment of $400 much more aggressively, all within a matter of a few months of the date of service.

They also reported it as non-medical, 90+ days past due, and full balance due—even though it was 100% covered by my insurance. I was willing to pay to make this go away, but they wouldn't remove it from my credit that way. The hospital debtor ended up apologizing to me for 15 minutes, but that didn't change my mortgage situation.

And as if that wasn't enough, I found out that a student loan I paid off in November decided to start reporting as full balance owed AND that I wasn't making payments since November. Even though we all know payments for student loans are all deferred. So they neglected to update my credit with the payoff from November and continued to report that I wasn't making payments until just last week (mid-February).

This is some next-level crap right here. How can these companies break the laws and get away with it? If you know any good attorneys, I am so ready to bring a lawsuit against everyone involved because they all made giant legal mistakes that in the end, I "paid" for. I am not a suing type, but this is out of control. Our credit system is seriously broken.

All these "hiccups" made me suddenly a high risk mortgage and the mortgage company told me that my down payment I had set aside was no longer sufficient. We had no choice but to let our house go. We had to cancel the transaction and give up hope of the house. A few other random things happened too, but basically everything that could have gone good or bad, went bad.

Happy birthday, babe, we're homeless

We decided this on my husband's birthday—happy birthday to you honey, we're going to be homeless as of next week.

I do what I always do when bad things happen, I switch to fight mode and do every and anything I can for my family. I started looking for temporary housing and found an airbnb that will do until we can find something else. 1 week in and I am already sick of airbnb life, but we'll get to that.

Moving in a severe winter storm

Like all of this wasn't enough, the dates we picked to move were during the lovely winter storm, Uri. We considered moving our move, but we had already booked so many things and the money we would lose to change it was catastrophic. I knew we needed to save money if we were ever going to be able to buy a house with the neglect I experienced.

We left Colorado on Sunday and landed in Raton, NM on Sunday night. The drive wasn't too bad, but the closer we got to NM the more snow there was. We love snow, being Minnesotans, but we weren't the problem. The infrastructure around us was.

These states do not see snow and they all have no clue what to do and how to handle it. I got pulled over that night because the trailer lights were broken, and we ended up with a flat tire on one of our uhauls that required repair the next frigid morning, when the entire town seemed to be shut down.

Monday morning we had to wait for a tire repair before we could drive again, but we're thinking there might have been a little fate going on there because if we would have left when we were planning on it, the roads might have been really bad (first thing in the morning).

We made it to Amarillo that afternoon, and again, lots of snow and chaos, but we were used to these conditions, and thankfully, the hotel was welcoming and open. The kiddos got a good swim in and I lounged in the hot tub. I had a lot on my mind, most of which I haven't even shared yet.

The next day was dicey. We knew that once we hit Fort Worth the chaos was worse but we also had folks helping us move that had reason to get back to their home, so we moved forward hoping for the best. And to be honest, the drive was quite simple, until we got into Waco.

Texas was a scary place to be last week

Don't get me wrong, the roads were likely scary for Texans, but it was a super chill drive compared to the blizzard I drove through where my car was a plow a few years back in Minnesota—in April. Waco roads were glare ice. We don't get glare ice in Minnesota because we salt and sand the roads the second a storm starts. Texas does not have that ability with the equipment they have.

We landed at our airbnb around 6pm, and realized we had no groceries for dinner. So the guys went out and about to find some and everything was closed. We ate a healthy gas station dinner that night and for a few more days as we grabbed everything we could to put together a meal each time someone was hungry. I have a new respect for extreme poverty. I used to be among the extreme poverty audience but it's easy to forget how stressful that life is until you live it again.

I had no clue if my kids would be fed these few days and it was one of the scariest moments of my life.

Our airbnb did not have running water, but it did have heat and I was so incredibly thankful for that.

Because all of this just isn't enough

My grandma has been struggling with her health for the last month. The same grandma that I spent every summer with as a child. She was admitted to a hospital and was there for a bit, before being moved to a nursing home. All of which are places that would not allow visitors. I know I am not the only one that has experienced the pain of losing a loved one during COVID, but fudge it hurts so damn bad. Restricting visitors when folks are dying and haven't seen their loved ones in months should be illegal.

My grandma demanded to be released to be home with her husband and family. They didn't grant her wish until last Monday, yes, the Monday we woke up in Raton, NM with a flat tire on our Uhaul. So among trying to figure out where to live, how to get there, I also had to worry about whether or not the last words my grandma said to me were "this is the last time I am going to see you."

She didn't mean it. We nicknamed my grandma guilt-trip grandma. It's really an awful nickname, but it had good intentions. There wasn't a day that went by that my grandma didn't tell the entire world everything she felt and thought. And sometimes those words made you feel guilty because you knew what she had wanted and you didn't deliver. She didn't want me to leave Minnesota. She knew I wouldn't be able to visit often. But I know that her last words, although painful, were not meant to be taken maliciously, and more a way of expressing her hatred for my move.

I hoped and hoped that we could get the uhauls unpacked (we had two, and without me there was only 1 driver and 3 kids & 2 dogs to watch) but the moving company here wouldn't work due to the conditions and I don't blame them. We did empty one of the uhauls just the two of us on Thursday, but I was dying inside and my physical strength was non-existent. I wanted so hard to keep pushing forward so I could fly to MN but it just wasn't in me.

Unfortunately, that evening my grandma died. I worked so hard that day, and exhausted myself for nothing. I would never be able to tell my grandma how much I loved her before she was gone, and have the last words she said to my face NOT be something that hurt me so badly.

The bad luck continues

Welp, my uhaul unpacking no longer mattered, where I was living no longer mattered, the fact that I was homeless no longer mattered. I just wanted to cry. I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. I wanted to curl up in a ball like small child and cry in my grandmas arms, but that was no longer an option.

Friday the movers were able to help and we finally emptied uhuals and got them returned. We were chill that night in preparation for Saturday. My step son's birthday.

I realize that with everything going on, we shouldn't worry too much about a kids birthday. However, this was the first birthday that Ethan has had that we actually got to see and spend time with him ON HIS BIRTHDAY. I don't like to talk bad about people, but Ethan's mom did everything she can to keep Ethan from his dad. Why? I have no idea, because my husband is literally the most amazing, kindest, caring, rule-following person I know. She just wanted to see him in pain year and year, but like Twitter, that's a story for another day.

Birthday's are a big deal in the Kriesel household

In our house, birthdays are a BIG DEAL. You get to choose where and what we eat, what we do and everything in between. You're the boss for the day and kindly & excitedly enjoy the ride because after all, it's your day! And since this was the first birthday Ethan spent with us, his 19th birthday was going to be his best.

Unfortunately, it likely wasn't his best because things were still shut down a bit and the weather was still cold. However, I can tell you this, Ethan has never felt more loved than he did that day (I hope). I made sure he knew how much he meant to every single one of us and how much we felt so blessed that he decided to join us in Texas for this wild adventure. We've never had him for Christmas either, hoping that changes in 2021 too.

Sunday is a day of rest, just not for us

Sunday was going to be our day of rest. We were going to check out one of the churches we were excited to visit and learn about but apparently life had other plans.

Jeff and I took the dogs out together, we were both hurting and we needed each other so we started doing everything together, even our silly chores. As Lucy, our 8 month old pug puppy, was running around I noticed she was squinting and behaving like something was wrong or in her right eye. So I picked her up, wiped out a couple eye boogies, normal pug stuff, and it seemed fine. I put her down and she had it wide open and running around. Phew! That was close.

We then brought the dogs inside and Lucy proceeded to behave oddly. She was dragging her back right leg, almost like it was fully broken and snapped in half and she couldn't walk any other way. Then suddenly she was high stepping with her front right leg and seemed to not be able to move or bend the knee joint. I worked in a vet before my tech days and my brain instantly realized this isn't about her eye, or legs, its about her brain. As I had this thought, she walked right into a wall.

We scooped her up and ran her to the emergency vet. It was very, very busy—I watched as woman came crying out of the clinic. I didn't care about COVID and I left my safe, warm vehicle to give her a hug. If I lost my Lucy Lou, the one who let me cry all over her Friday morning, I didn't even know what I would have done.

The vet reported back that he thought she had a seizure. He had no answers for us or a prognosis. We are suppose to watch her and track any symptoms and bring her back in immediately if it happens again. I'm thankful that my Lucy girl wasn't leaving us so early in her life, but I am so scared about this means for her and any future seizures she might have.

It's Monday, so I am suppose to be okay

I'm incredibly hard on myself, especially in my professional career. And since I did not technically take today off, I felt like I needed to be work ready. And for the most part, I prepared myself and was ready to return.

We had to bring kiddos to the doctor (long story, but another reason CO sucks) before they could start school, and then bring them to their new schools for their first days—our younger two are going to a private Christian school, while the oldest chose public school. We had the oldest enrolled in the school that was assigned to the house we were trying to buy. We arrived there today to be turned away because we are no longer in-district.

My oldest was not too keen on the idea of Christian school, and we are okay with that. I allowed all of them the choice because it's not my job to shove my religion down their throat, but it is my job to support and educate them.

Can this badness stop, please?

I have no idea where my oldest is going to school, but I took a few more days off to figure it out. I don't think a few days can solve the bad I have going on, but hopefully it helps. Everyone keeps asking me what they can do and I don't even have the capacity to think about what others can do, let alone tell them.

I have contemplated everything from quitting my job and leaving tech to going back to school to renting a low income apartment and not working and not caring. If you know me, you know this is not me and you know that if I reach this point, it's bad. (I would never hurt myself, lost my BIL to suicide, not an option)

So here is how you can help. Tell me how much I have helped YOU. Share stories of why I matter to you and help me see that giving up on everything I care about is not going to make the hurt go away. Oh and if you know someone who has a house for rent in Waco, TX, that would REALLY help.

Oh, and back to Texas nice, I have been overwhelmed with kindness and compassion in Texas. A little bit more time here and I should be good as new, maybe even pre-Colorado new.