our house is a very, very, very nice house

Boz and I just bought our very first house. It's in a town called Dripping Springs which is about 20 miles west of downtown Austin. We are SO excited and I'll post pictures after we're settled. While I am really looking forward to 3pm tomorrow (when it's all legal and legit!), I also feel that little heart-tug tonight which accompanies all types of change. I have a really...REALLY...vivid memory of walking into this (<now 'our') condo for the first time. We were on maybe our 2nd or 3rd date (in 2006) and Boz invited me in for a glass of wine before I headed home after dinner downtown. I walked in and all the lights were off...he flipped them on...and I thought "this place is 17,000 times nicer than my apartment." :) I remember having our first kiss on the couch...which is still sitting in the same place in which it was that evening.

This morning I thought back to my time in the condo during my little stint in Austin before I drove Pancho to California in 2014. I so clearly remember going for a run one evening...then walking back into the condo...and thinking, "Holy SH*T. I'm finally going to MARRY him!!!!"

I really want the condo to sell, but gosh, you know? 

Our new house is perfect and I knew it was our house the second I walked inside. I'm so excited to have a fresh start...together...in a place which holds no memories other than the two of us. It's another beginning! I so loved our first beginning but I'm 100% certain I'm going to love this one more. 

There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it. - Charles Dudley Warner (<a buddy of Mark Twain!)

We are over-the-moon, all in, and completely delighted. To everyone who has expressed their excitement and support, thank you so much and you're all welcome to visit!

All the feels tonight,

Ab

Home.

I spent last week visiting my family in our hometown of Bay Village. This quaint lakeside town is on the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio and I haven't actually lived there since 1996. However, a vast majority of my family planted roots in Ohio so I've never lost the connection. On the contrary, I am growing more attached to the Village as the years pass and I realize how lucky I am to have the opportunity to return home in the sense of home being an actual house, town and community. Many of my friends' parents have moved from the homes (and towns) in which they raised their children. All these friends (poor wandering souls) were long ago forced to expand their concept of home to include wherever their parents or their own families currently reside. I like to imagine I could gracefully handle such an adjustment, but I'm pretty sure I am lying to myself. I can see 'but that's not fair!" or something equally sophomoric coming out of my mouth if my folks ever tell me they're moving. 

But really. I've spent my entire life holding one little town as my vision of home. I basically have the mindset of an elderly farmer (albeit it an elderly farmer who wants other people to look after his land while he travels the globe and visits the farm three to four times per year. That kind of farmer.)

It is truly remarkable how quickly my arrival in the Cleveland airport can propel me back to childhood. Cleveland Hopkins International is on the cutting edge of time travel.

I step foot in the terminal and I immediately want to eat a chocolate chip cookie bar from Martin's Deli. I want to run 4 miles down Wolf Road...circle back up Lake...and stretch in my folks' front yard. I want to sit on the lawn chair and drink wine while chatting with my family and watching the runners, walkers and bikers pass by. I want to visit the grocery store where my grandmother used to shop...even though I have nothing to buy. And this is just what I would do in 24 hours. I could easily fill three or four days with these types of simple, comforting activities. I have lived in Texas for over ten years now and do many of these same types of activities every day. But they don't really mean anything significant to me here. If Boz and I were to move away and then return for a visit, I would expect a ride down South Congress Ave to tug on my heartstrings. But for now...it doesn't really do much beside make me want to two-step. I'm pretty confident that said hypothetical visit won't ever slice through me like my visits to Ohio. 

And I've been thinking about this a bunch over the past few days.  

Boz and I recently had a discussion about how much we grew up during our time in Texas. When we met here in 2005, we were both 27 years old. And while I have heard of people who have their lives more-or-less figured out at that age, it was definitely not the case for us. On one of our first dates, B declared, "I think couples should know whether or not they want to get married within one year of dating. If it takes longer than that, it's not a good match." I had recently ended an enormously toxic relationship and left our date thinking, "Oh no. I definitely can't get engaged within a year. I guess this won't go anywhere.' As it turned out...it would be another 7.5 years before Boz would get down on one knee. As I'm sure you can imagine, we spent those 7.5 (and subsequent three) years growing up...together...and building piles upon piles of awesome memories, all centered around Austin, TX.

But Boz and I will leave Texas some day for good (or at least for a very extended period of time) and I already know how I'll feel in the airport. I'll be extremely heavy-hearted but then Boz will distract me or remind me of our next adventure and I'll snap out of it.

This is most definitely not what happens when I leave Bay Village.*

After this most recent goodbye, I cried my way through the security checkpoint, cried through a Starbucks line and then called Boz to declare, "This is unbearable. I can't do this. You need to find a way for everyone we've ever cared about to live in Bay Village." Fortunately Boz is super familiar with these types of proclamations and requests. 

Adulthood just really blows at times. It's really difficult to have exhilarating, completely novel experiences while simultaneously feeling that bone-deep comfort that oozes from your hometown. I'm working to develop a sense of unwavering comfort and 'home' that carries with me anywhere and everywhere simply because I'm in my own skin. Trust me...I just went through yoga teacher training and I live in Austin, TX. I've heard all the feel-good mumbo jumbo. And I actually subscribe to its validity and spread it around every chance I get. But that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the kind of comfort that comes from opening your parents' garage door. And from sitting on the same kitchen stool...year after year. And from a home-cooked Panamanian meal that tastes better than anything you can get in a 5-star restaurant in Asia. And the way the air whisping through the window screen feels on your legs. 

No joke, folks. The air feels different in the Village...or at least it does to everyone who grew up there.

But here's the part that doesn't blow: last Saturday evening, I landed in the Dallas airport, saw a t-shirt with the Texas flag plastered across the front, and exhaled a deep, calming sigh. I texted Boz, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean what I said. I love Texas." (In addition to my demand he move all our families and friends to Ohio, I had also declared my hatred for the Lone Star State.) Boz called. And he whispered, "Babe. Any time you want to go to Ohio, you just let me know. You can go once a month if you want. You never have to feel far away. But...just know... Texas is happy to have you back."

So...as you may have guessed, this post was kind of stream-of-consciousness. I suppose I just wanted to put the following points in 'writing':

1. I get really homesick. I miss my family. I'm terrified I will regret my decision to live so far away. I worry they don't realize how much I miss and love them...and I worry they don't realize how many tiny details I remember on a regular basis.

2. I (most likely) will never live in Ohio again. Hell, I don't even really want to live in Texas anymore. The wanderlust in my heart is putting on the full court press and I'm ready for adventure.

3. No matter where I go and what I see, there will always be just one home. 

I am happy living in Austin this week...and I would be fully on-board for another international assignment... and I'm also down to live in many cities across the U.S. I will happily follow Boz around the world and I have no doubt I will find fulfillment in every place. But when someone asks, 'Where is home?', I will never answer with the current place-o-residence...and I will never say Texas. I'm pretty certain I'll always say, 'Home is on a lawn chair on Tuttle Drive, Bay Village, Ohio, USA".

As the novelist George Moore said, 

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, 

and returns home to find it.

Damn straight. 

Hug your families tonight, rockstars,

Ab

*I rarely cry...but when I do, I make zero attempt to hide it. There are no tissues...no hands covering the face... no trips to the restroom. I just openly sob my eyes out. This applies to my airport crying and while I realize it is really disturbing to other travelers, I can't make myself conceal it. That would make the whole ordeal simply unbearable. I need the support of my fellow fliers. So I just sit out in the open...or at the bar...like this:

It's so weird. It is not Boz's favorite thing about me. But I'm absolutely certain it'll never change. :)

Workshopping

Over the past year or so, Boz has made a hobby out of taking well-known songs of various genre and workshopping the lyrics until they focus on Pancho, me, or Texas. The 'me' and 'Texas' categories generally include things I enjoy in or about Texas (eg. farming...cooking...and I can't think of anything else I enjoy at the moment).  It's like 120 degrees here right now. I have been rendered incapable of conjuring appreciation for anything. Let's circle back to this in late October.

Anyway, rather than plow through further explanation, I will provide several illustrations of this lyrical exercise:

1. "Texas Tornado" by Tracy Lawrence has become "Texas Tomato" (<in reverance to the many juicy little tomatoes I have brought home from the farm).

2. "With or Without You" by U2 has become "With or Without Food" (<sung each time either one of us takes medication or vitamins).

3. "Viva Las Vegas" by Elvis Presley has become "Migas!!! Las Vegas" (<sung at random...but definitely every time we see or eat migas, a Texas staple).

and...most importantly...

4. "Who Let the Dogs Out" by Baha Men has become "Who Lets the Dog Out" and we sing this EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT when it's time to let Pancho out for his final bathroom break of the evening. No exaggeration. Every night.

And right after we finish the song, Boz says "me"...and proceeds to take Pancho on his last bathroom break while I get in bed and read until he returns. (Again, it's hot here...and I don't like to get warm before bedtime. And, also, I'm a giant,spoiled pain-in-the-ass.)

I realize workshopping lyrics may not come naturally to everyone...but if y'all have any inkling towards songwriting whatsoever, I highly suggest running with this. It's practically therapeutic. Case in point: I am in yoga teacher training right now and I hate every single second of it. It's super social and engaging...but I like to spend 90% of my day in total isolation and silence (<excluding farm-animal company/noises and Pancho). Yoga school is really, really rough on my mental stability. However, after dinner every evening, Boz breaks into workshopped-song lyrics and I can't help but laugh and then I feel like I might...just *might*...be able to power through another day of yoga training.

Also, I have been continually reminding myself that people have made it through war, exile, leukemia, and other yoga schools. I'll probably be ok. But feel free to pray for me. I'll be seriously struggling until like 4pm on August 2nd (and then training will be complete and and we'll be heading to Beaver Creek, CO for a little vacation and I'll be brainstorming ways to redeem myself for acting like yoga school was the apocalypse.)

And now for three unrelated and excessively long postscripts:

ps. #1: B and I recently spent a few days fishing in Canada with our family. Boz spent his childhood vacations in Canada and was super stoked to introduce me to Totem Lodge on a vaction in July 2013. I loved it then (pre-engagement...pre-Tokyo...pre-wedding...so, ya know...pre-stability ;)) but I am officially head-over-heels for it after this 2015 trip. I need to do an entire post on Canada so I'll just toss up a few pictures as a placeholder for the moment:

If he were wearing cowboy boots in this pic, it would be one of my faves.

I ran every morning of our vacation. This was my view upon leaving the cabin. I mean...come on.

This is just good for the soul.

ps #2:  How have I not told y'all about the farm?? I haven't, right?? Weird. I suppose I've just seen many of you in person and we've chatted about it face-to-face...but it's still really weird that I haven't mentioned it in this makeshift journal o' mine. Farming has changed my life. Farm post to come very soon...

ps #3: In case you're wondering, there is a song in the lab at this very moment. It's "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse. Bob and I saw Amy last Sunday and it got the wheels turning. Is there a better way to honor such a brilliant, troubled soul than by re-working her masterpiece into a goofy rendition and singing it at the top of our lungs a few times a week? No. There is not.

And that's all I got.

Peace in the Middle East, my friends.

Ab