Today is Monday. This means I've been in Austin for approximately 3 days. Early Sunday morning I wrote this:
I guess I am feeling a little displaced. Moving is especially strange because you spend the weeks prior seeing every last friend you have. Then you land in a foreign place and have few friends to call on.
I spent more time on facebook last night than I care to admit.
Then, there is the apartment/house. I am not quite at home here. Which, I suppose is how a guest apartment ought to make a person feel. I am comfortable, but not at home. I miss my bedroom, my backyard, my front porch. These are my favorite rooms in my house.
I think Ruby is feeling a bit confused too.
I guess I still feel that way. A bit. But I also got out of this little apartment and went down to San Marcos yesterday where I met a few of my classmates for the first time. In some ways it was an awkward meeting. My general first impression is that we're all pretty different. I guess I'm happy about that. I hit it off right away with the girl who picked me up (and who has lived in Austin for six years). On the ride home, she was pretty astounded to learn that I am 33. "You look so young!" she sqeauled. Equally, I was shocked to learn that she is only 23. I seem drawn to younguns' these days, so I am beginning to question my maturity level...
At the restaurant, one of my fellow students asked what kind of writing we do. I deflected and looked to my 23-year old ride to let her answer first. Smartly, she replied, "Well, I guess it's literary fiction. I mean, I don't think any of us here are doing genre, right?" My heart smiled. On the ride home, I said it was a strange question - that usually it's people who aren't writers who ask, "What kind of stuff do you write?" She agreed immediately. Anyway, I like her. She's seems sweet and spunky all at once.
Another fellow student (but a poetry dude) is from New York. And well, he is just SO a New Yorker, through and through. Loud, talkative, quick to offer his opinions. I guess I shouldn't be talking about these people, let alone judging too quickly, as I'm going to be getting to know them pretty well over the next few years. My impressions will shift, I am certain.
I'm glad I got down to San Marcos. It is really pretty breathtaking in its own way. The San Marcos river was high, and there were lots of people out swimming and tubing. Like most of the swimming spots in Austin, the San Marcos River is 68 degrees year round and it's spring fed. So many beautiful places to swim.
I've developed a nice morning ritual. I feed Ruby. I take my oatmeal and milk out to the big house to nuke it. I feed Clara-the-cat. I go sit out in the back yard and eat and drink my juice and enjoy the morning cool of Texas. (Yes, the dryness impacts what the morning temperature feels like. In a good way. But the dead of afternoon into the evening is pretty much a real bitch - dry or not.) While I'm in the yard eating, Ruby sits next to me, and Clara sits on the back steps of the house. They watch each other. Ruby is on a leash tied beside me so she can't go off and chase Clara up a tree.
C. thinks there is a children's story waiting to happen at this house. Clara-the-cat sits in a back window of the big house all day staring out into the backyard and out toward the garage apartment. When I leave the apartment to go to the house, and Ruby-the-dog is left alone, I see her little head with floppy ears pop into the window to stare out at me and across to Clara-the-cat. I let them both out in the yard at the same time a few times throughout the day. But Clara will only come out if Ruby is on her leash. And Ruby, of course, hasn't a clue that Clara would scratch her eyes out if she tried to approach her. Ruby's tail wags endlessly at Clara. She is probably in love.
Then there are the neighbor cats. I don't know their names, but the woman I'm house-sitting for has warned me that they've attacked Clara twice. So I'm not too fond of them. In my head, the neighbor cats are called Mona and Matilda. (But I'm trying to come up with a meaner name for Matilda, because Matilda is the name of a cat I think I'd like). Anyway, the neighbor cats, Mona and Matilda, are ALWAYS laying about in the yard. And I can't figure out why they won't go lay in their own great big yard. Clearly, they are trying to torture Clara, who I put inside whenever I see the neighbor cats. This morning, one of them had the audacity to walk up onto the steps and lay down. Right where Clara likes to lay in the morning. I went to shoo her away, but she just stared me down. She is a bully. I finally put Clara inside. Ruby watched the whole thing from across the yard where her leash was tied to the rope swing.
I suppose in the children's story, Ruby will chase down the neighbor cats, scare them off, and Clara will see that Ruby is really her friend.
Living here doesn't feel real yet. For a lot of reasons. I'm not working. School hasn't begun. c. and Basil aren't here with me. I don't have my own place to live. Whenever Ruby walks up to the car door and I continue past it to the apartment door, I say, "Ruby, we're already home, girl. This is home." Then I mumble. "Sort of." Today, I actually said, "Half-way. This is half-way home." And I felt mildly amused. I looked at Ruby. "We're half-way home, Ruby. We're in a half-way home."
Hmmm. Such is my life in Austin. For now.
SONG: Rainbow Connection, Willie Nelson