Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Today we met with the title company and our realtor, Kerry. We are now proud owners of a lovely two-story abode. It is teal. Not green. Teal.

When I was at my former employers' offices, co-worker Juli would pop into my office as my time grew increasingly short and ask, "Does it even feel real?"

"Yeah," I'd answer, rolling my eyes a bit inwardly. After all, we spent most evenings packing or doing something moving related. All of that tape, cardboard and other accessories seemed pretty darned real. As well as the hassles of buying one house and selling another.

But she was right, of course. It was when I emerged from my office last Wednesday where I'd holed up with Jeff the Cat while the movers collected our goods, and walked out into the now-empty house that it suddenly shifted into the dream-like quality that in a year I will barely remember. The house was empty, and rather than the collection of colors and semi-organized chaos which had defined all of our recent homes, the place was a bare shell, ready to be filled by someone else.

Of course the days in a hotel in your own town are a little off, especially when your time is filled with a lot of sitting and planning your next meal. Add in a two day car-ride through the empty hills and praries of the Southwest, plus a stay in my brother's semi-occupied house...

It was in Southern New Mexico when I saw the endless line of billboards advertising a road-side attraction/shop where I had no intention to stop that it really hit me: The last time I saw these signs was when I drove into Phoenix. I may never pass this way again. How did this happen?

I wasn't entirely sleep deprived when we rolled into Oak Hill, but we were past Dripping Springs and safely within Austin, as most folks would define it. The mishmash of Oak Hill is both Austin of my childhood (we'd drive out to a shop called ZooKeeper where we'd buy rats for Jason's snakes) and much changed from the days when Oak Hill was almost its own sleepy little town. That, and they've plowed down the diner that stood on the corner.

I had to remind myself every hundred feet that, for good or ill, there is no house in Phoneix we will return to with all of our worldly possessions and our usual routine. Everything is a blank page. And every once in a while the idea hits me like a sledge hammer all over again, leaving me a bit stunned, like I'm looking back at the tank of water I've just managed to free myself from and I'm still dripping wet and I can't believe I'm alive.

This happens every few hours, and new things trigger it. I've been in our hosue three times since we've arrived. A total of four times. How is it that I will live here forever, maybe? How did this happen? When will I walk on the floor with bare feet and treat it like it's mine and not some stranger's house in which I feel obliged to tread lightly?

Though I have no intention of doing so, there's no turning back, and while I've always laughed about folks who fear change, when everything is new, the caveman part of your brain that worries about what might be creeping at the edge of the campfire starts to work overtime.

In a month the feeling will be gone. In the meantime we'll adjust.

But, yes, Juli... you were right. None of it seems real. But that's okay. This is one dream I can ride for quite a while.

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