Sunday, June 04, 2023

Back Home


back in Hyde Park

Easter with my friends grandson

I have moved again. I know, dear reader, that that the previous post had me in acceptance mode around my  new home situation, but my Self could not abide by the many confusing and frustrating elements of tiny house village life. Like a bad relationship one knows one should leave, you keep justifying why it's still okay to stay...saying things like: well the drive isn't that bad, I can stay another year and see how it goes (a classic!), maybe I'll fall in love with it again. But from the MOMENT I moved into the house it just felt wrong all around. It wasn't a slightly off kilter feeling or a small thing bugging me deep down that I couldn't identify, it was pure flight mode limbic war in my nervous system that was a giant flashing neon sign that said STOP! TRY AGAIN! WRONG! And that is okay. Because I am so good at moving and have a low tolerance for shit that doesn't work - I gave myself full permission to move out as soon as I found something in town I wanted to move into. I started looking for apartment near my old apartment probably within 3 days of moving into the tiny house. So why did I buy it? I thought it was what I wanted. I was taking a chance on something. I knew I could afford the gamble.

I moved into Tiny last Sept and was very busy with Election work until Christmas. I went on my annual birthday trip to NYC and then visited my folks in Houston. January was going to be when I looked for a new place to live. But I got a wild hair the day after New Year's and was flush with cash so signed up for a South America-Antarctica trip for the whole month of February. When I have the time and $ to travel I can't not do it. And why shouldn't I? I hate to miss any part of winter in Texas, but I knew I'd eventually go on this trip and have to face the Antarctic as an outsider. I'm glad I went on the trip. It wasn't near as fun as last year's Viking passage (my favorite: Iceland, Greenland, all of Eastern Canada) but I needed to confront the morass of feelings, bust open the pining bubble, face the loss. I wasn't crazy about Argentina, and the Antarctic part I wrote about on my secret blog (and may do a separate post here), but Ushuaia, Patagonia and Chile were all magnificent. I had been to Punta Arenas before when I deployed to Palmer Station, but seeing it 14 years later was so wonderful. I could handle the intense feeling of sitting on the dock where the vessels were that only us few prized and special workers got to sail to the station on. I looked for the Palmer or LMGould (rusty research vessels) but didn't see them. I saw the USAP logo everywhere and felt a little sting of rejection, as I have been trying to get back every year, but when I made the decision to be grateful for the 8 seasons instead of being bitter, my attitude changed. It had to. I have a friend I worked with down there who can write one text if she wants to go back and is immediately handed a contract. Myself, and a lot of others I know are just not wanted down there anymore and I have to accept it. I am a fantastic, superstar worker, but I am also difficult to work with. I have been told that enough to know it is true, and accept it. There are places were my style fits. I'll go into the incredible PIA I was on the trip in another piece, so this will focus more on my move back to the center of town.

When I got back from S. America I dropped my bags in my house (no sleep for two days)...laid down for a minute, then drove into town for the Parlor show and a film at AFS. My routine was to leave the tiny house after morning coffee and writing time and spend all day in town staying busy doing fun stuff and coming back by nightfall. It was really hard sometimes as I had a couple of hours to kill between events and didn't want to drive out there and back. Sometimes I would drive out there just to be in my home and relax, but then I wouldn't come back out to town, as the drive back in the dark could be very hairy. It's only about 10 miles from where I sit now, but it's out in the dark countryside, with lots of traffic and no freaking lights on the roads. I had seen this adorable apartment (where I now live) in January, and told myself if it were still for rent when I got back (from my month's long trip) I would move into it. The big plusses for me were that it is a tiny complex owned by a couple that I can talk to and who take meticulous care of it. It feels well loved, and the unit I am in was specially remodeled for their daughter. My big top floor bedroom is a large square room with a giant queen bed where I can see tree tops and beautiful old Hyde Park homes. I am in the heart of Hyde Park - I can walk to two grocery stores, walk to my favorite weekend pizza joint that has daytime live music, and have a gentle bus ride to downtown if I want to see bands. It is beyond perfect. It is expensive, but everything is here now.

I realized that the first address I had in this neighborhood was 40 years ago, 1983, the year I graduated from UT. I have had 4 or 5 other apartments in this neighborhood, and it has been an interesting adjustment to move back to what was previously a student and punk rocker filled neighborhood. The homes here cost over a million dollars, and my tiny, bare bones complex is filled with working professionals instead of students. I have spent my last 7 years in Austin forming a lifestyle here that is pretty fabulous after the 6 years in a mountaintop cabin in Oregon. It was the right decision to move back into the center of town.

I thought I was going somewhere epiphanal with this post. I certainly woke up with that on the brain. Just remembered - I usually travel a lot when I have time off, but have signed up for two different classes that meet 3, sometimes 4 night a week. I am feeling trapped and unfree (ancient, trauma-track response), but I have been telling myself for YEARS that I need to take advantage of the riches around me for learning new stuff. I used to be a prolific painter who had my stuff hanging all over town. From the late 80's until 2003 or so I just drove my art from one location to the next - I sold a TON of it - and have a couple of "collectors" who have several of my pieces. I never took my painting that seriously, it is easy for me to do and I insist on finishing a painting in one sitting. Ironically (because I don't consider myself a serious painter) I use oils so I can keep going back and touching up and working on things. I do tap into that incredible creative place when the painting starts to reveal itself. I dont  draw or do sketches, just throw paint directly onto the canvas and see what happens. But unlike a lot of my painter friends, I do not crave painting or do it at home when I'm alone. It's only exciting when I'm doing it surrounded by other painters. So I signed up for this no instruction studio class where we just paint together and the teacher engages with us if we want to. The first class was a joy...that creative person in me just dying to get out...and not just with the process of painting but the interaction with the other artists. These other folks are serious painters. They had chops, and photos, and giant landscapes, while I'm doing my fat dragon babies that I hope look edgy but end up looking like cartoons. Oh well! No matter how much I have tried to quash and hide the soft and cute and whimsical side of me, she always shows up. Yes I drove big farm tractors in Antarctica with the men and was known as the resident badass city girl (the other women had grown up on working farms) who took to operating a front end loader like I was born in one. But the side I am always trying to hide shows up on the canvas - I will do a painting and think it is really dark, Eraserhead-ish (which is what I am ALWAYS going for) and then have some nice West Lake Hills lady buy it (and several others) for her toddler's room.   The brush doesn't lie!

Unlike painting, I think my real voice comes through in writing. This is purer, easier to do (yet harder to start), and puts me into the same delicious zone. Writing is like sitting down with my wizened old self (or like a pencil in the hand of God as Mother Teresa said), and painting is more like being tossed into the unknown and working my way through to the other side. I always start panting when the painting starts to come if my soul is trying to get my heart and mind to catch up with it. So, the painting studio is one evening a week, and I signed up for a filmmaking intensive for 6 weeks that will take up a lot of time. The classes will be in the same building where I got my filmmaking degree in 1983. It's stirring up a lot, as making films was really hard. Not the creative part or the story telling, but the technology (and mostly, the working with others). 

My apartment is directly behind a little backyard house that I lived in with my mom and sister in the mid '60s when my mom was single, between husbands. I have very few memories of that time, but they are seem somewhat sweet - I see that little house everyday when I walk down the alley, and wonder why, me of all people, who wants to be as far away from everything she knows for as long as possible, has moved back the spot where she was born: a few blocks from the actual birthing hospital, and a rock toss from the shack home. It seems like I am always searching for a October of 2004 when the C-17 touched down on the Ice Runway I felt more at home than I ever had. I am the type of traveller that feels most at home in a city I've never been to before. I am never at home. I am always at home.