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From Pillar to Post, Haus Guerin Chases Rainbows in Hawaii

Growing up skinned-knee and wild in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, my grandmother often used the phrase "pillar to post" to describe anyone that couldn't keep a house. Like most phrases dressed up in the South, it was said to not-so-discreetly convey disdain for the subject of the conversation and whatever unsavory plight had landed them shiftless. I grew up in the same house for 17 years before I left my hometown for school at Clemson University, so I never imagined I would bounce across American coasts twice, let alone cross an ocean!

moody rainy season view of Kaneohe

Five years ago, when my husband and I moved from the eastern shores of South Carolina to the rural town of Meridian in Eastern Mississippi, it was with several lofty goals in mind. Facing the discontinuation of his airframe, my husband was feeling less and less compelled to punctuate his military career with a retirement. With his exit from active duty service imminent and this new life change dangling, we needed to get serious about life after the Marine Corps--and fast. I explored a short list of some of my more ambitious talents and decided to lean into a career in design. Key in this decision-making was the nature of my own "shifty-ness". Having lived in several houses over the past 12 years meant I had a uniquely personal experience with space planning and furniture layout. Years of renovating and designing our own properties later, my decision to pursue interior design as a career felt like a natural fit. But after a decade of being a stay-at-home mom, my ability to juggle bustling toddler-turned-children and play-date schedules felt more intuitive than Outlook calendars and procurement software. Frankly, I felt a bit ill-equipped to jump right back into the swing of work outside of our home. Hoping to smooth the edges out a bit, I mentally prepared to return to school for a Construction Management BS program and sought out every design program I could get my hands onto. Somewhere in the midst of all of these things we began extensive renovations throughout our home in Mississippi. Then, covid-19 happened.

In short, it sucked.

vibrant green yard of a stucco front house in Mississippi

photo | Eastern Mississippi in Spring, circa 2019

Juggling resumed at an all-time high as I opted to home-school my oldest son while living through the renovations throughout our home. Some projects we hired out. Many smaller projects I took on myself, outsourcing anything requiring power tools to Mr. Haus Guerin. Meanwhile, outside of our home my husband continued to accrue additional flight hours as best as he could--despite platform issues, covid-19 protocols that hampered training and routinely caused the cancellation of rigorously planned flight operations. In like fashion, 2020 and onward proved to be tumultuous in every sense. Death, sickness and political unrest were the perfect tinder for rising racial tensions. My family and I arrived in Mississippi at the precipice of this storm with every ill-tale told of the horrors of the Deep South tucked into the foremost corners of my mind.

I expected terror. I made friends instead.

photo | Full Moon on Fifth inaugural art and music show with the Arts and Community Events (ACES) Board in Meridian Mississippi

close-up image of botanical installation featuring dried flowers and preserved moss

photo \ original pieces from my exhibit including my botanical arrangement featuring dried florals and preserved moss

large scale art leaned against wall in exhibition, mixed media textile art

Meridian was experiencing a reckoning of sorts. Watching the socioeconomics of Jackson unravel in the west while neighboring Laurel blossomed, the town chose the latter. Renewed voices fought the fixed notion of "we've always done it this way" whilst squarely meeting efforts to preserve the nitty-gritty of what made the Queen City THE Queen City of the Twin States. Public and private battles were fought but slow progress was made. In our time there, the Meridian Children's Museum, the ThreeFoot Hotel and countless other businesses and beautification murals sprang up around the sprawling town. It was a great time to know and learn the city, and a beautiful parting gift from a place we knew we would only live in temporarily.

dimly lit view of Art Deco styled dining area in restaurant

photo | above: fine dining at the 601, Threefoot Hotel below: mural honoring David Ruffin

sunny, outdoor view of exterior mural painted on brick building of singing group The Temptations

Fast forward through 2023, finishing what felt like a million 80% house projects, completing the Bachelor's in Construction Management at the University of Southern Mississippi, Brett's last flight as an active duty Marine Officer, Brett accepting a job with Hawaiian Airline and moving to Hawaii to start training and us (collectively) deciding to resume school for the boys in Mississippi with dad an ocean away--all while listing our Mississippi home and "figuring the rest out" as it comes. If it sounds like I'm skipping to the good part, I am. It was incredibly busy and anxiety filled. When the realization hit that my husband would miss every major holiday in 2023, we hurried up our timeline and decided to re-locate over the Christmas holiday.

Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy, what could go wrong, this should be eassssy.

Showing up to the island as renters that haven't rented in a looong time, we unfairly equated price with quality. Two weeks after moving into our new home, a strong storm brought the outside in with leaks from nearly every roof and two windows. Brett was off-island at the time, managing a particularly frustrating but first-world problem of shipping my car over to Oahu. If there is anything that I could recommend against, it's moving across the ocean, over a major holiday, and once again during the rainy season!

water damaged white ceiling with dripping water

photo | damages at the first rental after a major rainstorm

water damage from ceiling

In retrospect, I appreciate the island showing me the flaws of a place before nearly 10,000lbs of antiquities and carefully curated art show up. Switching mindsets from homeowner to renter, I knew the extent of the damages of the storm and was very happy it wasn't my problem to fix. More importantly, Brett and I were able to quickly find a new rental in the same neighborhood, allowing us to keep the boys in their same school!

So we moved. Again. This time with no Mayflower crew of four and hand trucks. Just Brett and I over two surprisingly sunny days while the boys were in school, using maximum expletives and our pickup truck which we thankfully shipped first.

Now, we sit (as I have already purchased a total of 2 sofas, 8 patio chairs and 4 stools because CHAIRS) and wait patiently in our new digs. At last check, our household goods were still partying Mardi Gras style in New Orleans. I fully intend to lean into a few of the things I love to do and just could not over the last year, rest chief among them but also thrifting, hiking and perhaps a bit of sketching and crocheting. In the meanwhile, stay tuned for a checklist of what NOT to do when looking for your next rental and some of my new favorites here on Oahu. And, if the sun decides to come out, be on the lookout for pictures of the new rental. Until next time Haus-mates!


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