Thursday, September 21, 2006

We are in our new house. Surrounded by boxes.

Actually, we're currently at Steanso's house surrounded by dogs. It turns out we can not get gas (and thus heat, hot water or be able to cook), nor any Time/Warner services until next Wednesday (internet, cable, phone). So it's all a bit odd. We are camping in our own home.

My biggest dilemma is unpacking versus seeing people. I want to see all of you. I want to not live out of a box.

I want a job.

Hope everyone is well.

I slept in my own bed in my own house in Austin last night, and that's got to count for something. Unfortunately we couldn't find the comforter, so it's kind of like that right now...

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.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Well, I am tired. And I don't feel particularly great. Sure, I partially blame that on eating curry when I haven't had curry in a few months, but my internal clock, digestive track and sense of time and space is all pretty out of whack.

At least the jabbing feeling behind my left eye went away with some Tylenol.

We moved our stuff out of the house in AZ on Wednesday. One of the movers broke the nozzle seal on the hot water for the clothes washer, so we ended up turning off all the water to the house and then cleaning. We finished with the plumber at 8:30 PM and left our house for the final time.

KareBear arrived Thursday. We ran a few errands and then spent a nice hour by the pool, ate dinner and then got some shut eye.

We left Friday around 1:30 after picking up Doug from the airport and the pets from PetsHotel. Before even leaving PetsHotel we got a phone call from our realtor telling us that when they moved our refrigerator, they didn't properly close off the water to the fridge. This meant that when we turned the water main back on, water slowly dripped out of the wall and seeped into the carpet in the next room rather than pool in the kitchen. This, Leaguers, is why you hire the companies listed as "bonded and insured".

We drove out of town, passing through Tucson and Tombstone, and wound up staying in El Paso for the night. By this point Lucy was going berserk in the back seat, and I didn't really blame her.

We got up at 7:00 and walked the dogs, trying to convince them to go patty. By 8:00 we were in the car. There's honestly not a lot between El Paso and Junction, Texas. So KareBear and I mostly chatted and drove, occasionally yelling at the dogs to lay down. We had to stop about every three hours for gas, to let the dogs out and stretch our legs.

Last night we rolled in around 6:30. Steanso is, of course, partaking in ACL Fest and is, thusly, not around. That hasn't stopped us from setting up The Hop-a-Long Lounge as a center of operations.

Jamie dropped off Jeff the Cat at Matt Mangum's apartment, grabbed Matt, brought him back down to H-a-L Lounge. Literally just off the plane from Paris and then immediately on the road, The Admiral arrived shortly after we did. Cousin Sue appeared and we all went for dinner.

After dinner Jason showed up at 10:30, played me his new Doctor Octagon record and we chatted until fairly late as he came down from his day at ACL Fest.

This morning I had breakfast with JAL and CBG. I don't think all three of us have sat down together since the late 90's. It was fun. I really missed those guys.

Jamie and Doug came from the hotel and we all jumped in the car to see the new house. We couldn't get in today, but we're scheduled for a walk-through tomorrow.

So we're back. It's a new chapter, I suppose.

Despite the curry-related upset stomach and the stabbing pain behind my eye, I'm feeling good. I did some driving today while Jamie and Doug went to a movie, and I still know this town. It's like what they say about not seeing a good friend for years and when you run into each other, no time has passed.

But time has passed. They've torn old houses to build new ones in the neighborhood I used to live in just north of Hyde Park. It's new architecture. Fun architecture. I'm glad to see the neighborhood is a living, breathing, thing.

This morning at The Omlettery our granola waitress butted into our conversation to let us know Backstreet Boys was one of her favorite bands (yes, Backstreet Boys had come up).

This is why I missed you, Austin. I missed your trees and your ridiculous signs up and down Burnet. I missed the Frisco. I missed your hills and your twin devotions to live music and football. I missed the weather changing five times in 7 hours. I missed kids in shorts and cowboy boots and hats walking with their moms up to Central Market. I missed knowing that my loan officer was secretly an aspiring film-maker with a deep knowledge of kung-fu films and what makes Bruce Campbell just work, dammit. I missed knowing Thursday night is (was and always shall be) Mariachi night. I missed people lining up in the rain to show tribute to a one-term fire brand governor as she lays in state. I missed bats under bridges and overgrown oak trees. I missed getting right on 35 to get onto the ramp and knowing that turning onto 290 from Loop 1 is a left exit. I missed picking up the phone and asking a friend to watch my cat for a week and him saying to come by whenever and paying him back with an enchilada and a margarita. I missed rickety metal stairwells and wall-units. I missed an orange tower on Saturday nights and the hope of hundreds of thousands embodied in that edifice of an arena just off the freeway. I missed couples standing in the ice-cream aisle at 10:30 at night looking like they just rolled out of bed and knowing that they've looked like this all day. I missed your gentle hills and your white limestone faces where they cut you to make way for the roads. I missed a million, tiny little details that whisper to me and say "that was where you learned to drive," "That was where you learned to love learning," "That was where you kissed her for the first time," "that was where on that one Tuesday afternoon you cut out early and you and Justin tied one on because it was sunny out, but it was too early in the year to be hot," "That was where you jumped in the water and you thought your eyes would pop out," "that was where you decided you were coming back here to go to school", "that was where you figured out this was forever, and over there by the peacocks is where you made it official."

I missed you, Austin.

You change but you never do. For the third time you welcome me, and for the second time you treat me like we can pick up where we left off. Just put down your bag and grab a drink. And how's all that been going...?

I am glad I am home.

No limits.

No limits.
We made it. We're here.

It's raining. We will move into our house later this week, so in the meantime I'm at Steanso's Hopalong Lounge.