The sun is rising, and with it, the chorus of birdsongs that begin with the melody of one bird crescendo with the brightening light. I look outside and see a patch of the blue-pink-orange-violet sky between the live oak trees in our backyard, its reflection shimmering on the surface of the pool. This is how the day begins at my new house.
Several weeks ago, I wrote about news that I was dying to share, except I was afraid to jinx it. So here it is, the big, if somewhat anti-climactic, reveal: we finally bought a house. Ta-da! Although I’m pretty sure it’s not news by now. I was so excited after the last papers were signed that I couldn’t wait to share and did so on Facebook. But can you really blame us? In the nine years that My Guy and I have been together, this is our first house. In Texas, nonetheless; our first roots in this still-strange land. And it feels pretty surreal.
Our celebratory feast, right after closing.
After weeks of despairing that we were never going to find something in this crazy, highly competitive market, we found something we both fell in love with. How we got the house alone is remarkable, but that is a story for another day as I’m still reeling from it.
The girls are ecstatic, of course. A backyard! Heck, even a front yard. And the mother of all surprises – a pool! That part surprised us too. It was not part of our search criteria, but in almost a quarter of the showings, the house came with a pool. When temperatures soar above 100 on most days in the summer, we can understand why it’s so popular, and this family of water babies is thrilled to have one of our own.
I was a little broken-hearted about leaving Lake Michigan behind when we left Chicago, but after a few days here, I realized that we’ve swapped the vast body of water down the street for a little one in our backyard, and the effect is more or less the same. We still get to play in the water, minus the sand (yay!), and water has a calming, therapeutic effect no matter the size. Needless to say, that morning coffee by the pool? Not a shabby way to begin my day.
This is only our fourth day here, and it already feels completely different from our old urban life. For one thing, even though we have an Austin address, this might as well be the middle of nowhere. The only place accessible on foot is the neighborhood park about two blocks away. Granted, it’s beautiful with fun play structures for the girls, a large field for baseball or soccer, a basketball court, a walk/run trail, picnic pavilions, and a rocky hiking trail in a nature preserve nestled on the side of the hill. On our first night here, it was pitch black and silent outside, and just as we closed our eyes to succumb to our weary day spent moving in, the howl of a coyote bolted me upright. Did you hear that? He did. I knew it was a coyote because I’ve seen them on my drive home one late night, near our last apartment not too far from here.
This is quite a change from what we were used to.
The darkness, the deer that graze on lawns and other creatures I hope I never meet, the people who always look up from what they’re doing to wave and say hello, the neighbor who I met at the park and invited us over for a play date and chai that same evening, the 101 things to remember just to keep the pool working and looking pristine, the wallpaper in two of our bathrooms, the old faucets that my two-year-old can’t operate, the plants that need our constant attention, the tiles on the foyer that we never would have picked ourselves, the many rooms that need painting to match the colors to our taste, and the myriad house projects that are growing steadily, with wish lists and reality checks dictating our day-to-day. It’s a different life now.
I hesitate to say better because it’s still new. It’s easy to gush and say this is the best move for us, but really, it’s too soon to tell when everything is glistening with novelty. But I’ll readily admit that there is a lot to love. This nearly 30-year-old Texas limestone house that comes with most of what we need and that will hopefully, eventually become what we would like it to be. This amazing, temperate weather that starts in the 60’s in the mornings and ends in the 80’s in the evening. This city that seems to radiate possibilities.
And, of course, my favorite part, the one that’s at the heart of it all—our little family. As we settle into this next phase of our lives, I’m starting to see the side of us that I’ve never seen before. My Guy on his workbench in the garage. The girls who look forward to weeding the yard as a chore, which I’m sure has a lot to do with novelty. And me, Googling “how to maintain a tomato plant” that the previous owners grew themselves and realizing I should probably put some gardening tools on the list for our next run to the hardware store.
He didn’t waste anytime – this was our first day, after our first (of many) trips to Home Depot.
We are still in the throes of unpacking and wondering what the hell are we going to do with the items from our past life that don’t seem to belong here. Like a coat rack. And do I really need 24 pairs of socks? Unless I’m running, I’ve not worn them since I moved here.
Tonight, My Guy speaks in front of a Lean Startup audience in downtown Austin, and my girls, well, they’ve never had any trouble adjusting, which is pretty incredible. I am home, alone, listening, breathing, taking it all in, wondering if I should tackle my freelance work or one of the gazillion boxes in the house. I am completely overwhelmed, exhausted, elated, mystified, and mostly grateful all at once.
But each morning I wake up, I look at all that surrounds me – the boxes in every corner, the lively, verdant trees, the messes made by tiny hands, the dishes in the sink, even the gecko outside my window and think to myself, today is a good day. And then I look at my to-do list and tackle it one item at a time, knowing that I will probably never see an end to that and, surprisingly, being absolutely fine with it.