I’m going to miss this. Sitting on the back steps smoking a Djarum with the outdoor lights strewn haphazardly across the yard. Any amount of fiddling could result in a giant electrical storm, but I’ve never seen as much as a spark.
I had my apprehensions about this place driving the 539 miles from Joplin to Austin, turning off of Lamar past the Ferrari dealership into a sleepy neighborhood known as Rosedale. When I pulled up next to 4301 Bellvue, my heart sank. When I say this house needs TLC, I mean it. In the kindest, most grandmotherly way possible this house looked like shit. In a neighborhood where the houses down the street look like something you’d find on a movie set, my humble abode for the summer stuck out like a sore thumb.
But then I fished for the key under the mat and unlocked the front door. As old as the house is, and underneath the mothball smell, there is an undeniable charm. Our subleaser has more books than I’ve ever seen one person own. We call it Anne’s Library. It is tastefully decorated in a West Elm meets Target vibe, with Austin accents peppered about. Like the cowboy merman hanging on a horn in the living room, or the yellow ornament in the shape of Texas on the door to the kitchen with “we don’t dial 911” scribbled in black Sharpie along with a plastic gun. No, this house was exactly what I didn’t expect. But it’s what I wanted.
In this house I watched my roommate try and unthaw a chicken breast in a metal bowl… In the microwave. In this house I wrote one of my favorite articles to date about a woman who went from Wall Street to Austin to open up a modern ranch-style boutique. In this house I learned to love hot tea. In this house I found an affinity for letter-writing. In this house I’ve read thousands of pages of fiction from David Foster Wallace to Murakami to Sylvia Plath, and much in between. I’ve learned to cook something other than ramen.
The detached garage is a terror. It’s always 120 degrees or hotter and it just so happens that’s where the washer and dryer are located. It’s the kind of place where you open the door first and just kind of stand there hoping nothing inside moves. Just the other day I saw a mouse scurry through the air vent. Everything really is bigger in Texas, by the way.
But despite all of that, I love that the dish washer makes beastly sounds. That only a few of the burners work. That there’s no cable. That the sink in the bathroom is child-sized. That none of the chairs at the wooden dining room table match. That there’s a Chipotle and a USPS mail drop seconds from my driveway. That my bedroom has three windows that force me to wake up with the sun. I love this tiny house.
This house will forever be “home” to me. Even when I move out and my subleaser moves back in. Home is transitory. Home is wherever you lay down roots and your heart.
And I can honestly say I’m leaving a large part of my heart in Austin.
I’m going to miss everything about this summer, especially these quiet nights where I take my book outside with me and get lost in another world in a city that was completely foreign to me just weeks ago. With the warm summer breeze floating through the yard, I can say with happy conviction that this was exactly what I needed to do this summer. Exactly where I needed to be.