Refocusing

August 17, 2007

Despite my lack of postings for over a month, I would like to thank those of you who have maintained their subscriptions to this blog, or who have checked on it regularly. Diane and I moved from Texas to North Carolina, so I hope to return to regular postings soon. A sense of normalcy would also help, but we are slowly making our way there.

While my coworkers feted me on my last day at work, Diane had to handle a family emergency. It continued over the course of a few days, which delayed packing for the move. The following week, I packed somewhere around 40 boxes of books and got other things ready for the move. After that came the week of the move itself. Packers arrived Monday, loaders got our stuff on Tuesday, and we left in two cars on Wednesday.

The first morning of the drive began inauspiciously. I saw a plume of smoke from Arlington, which got bigger as I approached downtown Dallas and made me think the worst. Fortunately, Reunion Tower and everything else remained in place, but traffic came a to grinding halt on I-30 a few miles west of downtown. Diane found out that a gas explosion had occurred near the “Mixmaster,” blocking all the major highways to and from downtown Dallas. After a few hours of sitting in traffic, we finally got back on track, but we ended up spending the night in Little Rock instead of Memphis as originally planned. We ended up at a downtown La Quinta and ordered Papa John’s pizza in-room for dinner.

The following day, we finished our drive through Arkansas and drove through most of Tennessee. Diane and I stayed at another La Quinta, this time in the touristy area of Sevierville/Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge. Everything seemed glossy and squeaky-clean enough for families and retirees, though I suppose Sexy Stuf along the main drag added a dash of naughtiness. We ended up at Outback this time around for dinner, fortifying ourselves after the day’s drive.

As you may have noticed, Diane and I stayed at La Quintas. We did this for a reason. As some of you may remember, our Pomeranian/Chihuahua mix Arabella passed away in June. We didn’t plan on getting a new dog, but we ended up falling for a purebred chihuahua the following weekend at a PetSmart-sponsored adoption. We named her Sophie, more or less setting a precedent for naming pets after characters from Richard Strauss operas (this one from Der Rosenkavalier). Traveling with Sophie posed some logistic problems, but things turned out well in the end.

We finally entered North Carolina the following morning, with temperatures getting as low as the mid-60s. The high elevation seemed especially inspiring, and I searched in vain for a snow-capped peak I recalled from a drive through the area many years ago. Nevertheless, it seemed appropriate to play certain pieces that evoke the spiritual and mundane aspects of high places, including Strauss’ Eine Alpensinfonie and Mahler’s 3rd Symphony. Outside the mountains, temperatures warmed up to the 90s as we approached our new hometown of Durham, and the drive became less “scenic.” Still, the opportunity to see tall trees in North Carolina seemed a novelty for someone coming from Texas, even though I came from Ohio and had grown up surrounded by them. Now I had more or less returned closer to my roots, albeit still a bit further south.

The afternoon consisted of picking up our keys to the new house (a rental that offers an embarrassment of riches spacewise), dropping off Sophie at a kennel, and getting to a bed and breakfast for the weekend. The following Monday, Diane’s birthmother and her husband arrived for a visit. We drove to the Outer Banks for a trip whose length depended on the anticipated arrival date of the movers. As Thursday seemed the more likely candidate for an arrival date, we went from an overnight quick trip to a two-day visit.

As usually happens in the case of rare visits to a coast, I ended up groking the beach and die grossen Wasser. I have looked out over the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston a few times, but never the Atlantic Ocean. Rationally, I know that such bodies of water extend a few hundred or a few thousand miles. But then, notions of distance can dissolve easily during such getaways. The ocean looks and sounds spectacular during the day, with many clouds and possibly a distant storm visible past the sun and water worshippers playing and reclining along the beach. At night, with fewer people out and little more than some artificial lights, the oceanfront fosters an awesome view of the moon and stars that can make one contemplate infinity. But then, the call of oversized and overpriced seafood buffets leads one back to slaking more earthbound desires.

In anticipation of the arrival of our worldly possessions, we left the Outer Banks on Wednesday morning. As promised, the stuff we didn’t take in our cars arrived, with possibly a few exceptions. We also got Sophie, who has adjusted quite well to a new yard for romping, among other things. After my birthmother-in-law and her husband left on Saturday, Diane and I spent the following week unpacking and slashing our way through bureaucratic stuff.

We finished most of the unpacking and official matters in time for the arrival of her adoptive parents, who have stayed with us since last Saturday and plan on moving here. They have secured a place, and they’ll probably come with their stuff next month. They leave this Saturday to take care of final moving arrangements in Texas, so I think Diane and I will finally be able to settle in (with Sophie) at our new home. We miss a few things from Texas (relatively close proximity to Austin, various cultural activities, La Madeleine, etc.), but not as badly as we may have thought. We have kept busy, and the area around “the Triangle” offers quite a bit to do. Once we return to our routines and temperatures become more moderate, I believe that the appeal of this area will become even more apparent.

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