A Gentle Hug From Texas

Every once in a while I thought it’d be fun to show you a work in progress. This excerpt is from an article called ‘Bastrop’s Warm Embrace,‘ which concerns my move from the Pacific Northwest to a little western town just south of Austin, TX. It was a time of great transition for me; a time of fear, sadness, expectation and hopeful adventure. It turned out the little town ended up wrapping its arm around me, and I was later unofficially dubbed, ‘The guy from Seattle with the great dog.’ The article is due to come out in a magazine in a few months and here’s a snippet. . . 

           1:15am on a cloudless night as I drove the U-Haul slowly down the empty main street. Coming off highway 21 and entering the deserted downtown, I suddenly felt as though my orange and white moving van was in fact, a stagecoach. Both sides of the street were lined with western motifs and brick buildings from yesteryear. The windows were darkened and even the bars had closed up shop. I seemed to be the only rider coming through town.

            I pulled the moving truck in front of my apartment on Pine Street that occupied the entire second floor of a building that housed a salon below. Narrow rickety wooden steps ascended to my doorway and as I made my way up I tried not to think about what it was going to be like in the morning to haul sofas, armoires and heavy oak book cases up the steps. Now, all I wanted to do was fall into my mattress. Oh, wait, that was in the U-Haul, too. A sleeping bag would have to do.

            I opened the door revealing the empty hardwood floors and tin-patterned ceilings and gazed around. This was to be my new home. A boy raised and bred and spent almost all of his adulthood in the Pacific Northwest had come to this sleepy little hamlet to begin a new life. The only one he knew for sure was his husky/shepherd mix, Sam, who would be joining me in a week when he flew to Austin. That was fine how-do-you-do; me hauling all my worldly possessions on a three-day loooong drive from Tacoma, Washington to a virtually unfamiliar spot in south central Texas while my dog rode first class, most likely munching on dog biscuits and lapping up Evian water. But it would be worth it to get him here quicker than to make him suffer the long, hot days I’d just endured.

            I unrolled my sleeping bag, threw down a pillow and climbed on top of it. The air outside was slightly cool with a unique scent of pine and sweetness that seemed to permeate this area of Texas.

            Over the course of the next few days, I would set-up the apartment as living quarters as well as sectionalizing it off for an office space. I had not only moved to the Lonestar state to leave behind an old life fractured by divorce, but also to start a new one, headlined by a new business venture with a long time friend. My home office in Bastrop would be my business digs, serving clients in Austin.

            I found the little oasis in the pines serendipitously the Christmas before when I was exploring areas around Austin. The city’s arts culture and business potential were very attractive, but I didn’t want to live in the city. I’d rather live on the outskirts where the vibe was calmer, the pace slower. So I drove through Bastrop one December day, looking for office space. The owner, a laid back gentleman with a deep tan, showed me the small space which turned out to be ideal as both an office and living space. Plus Tommy, the owner, knew everyone in town, making him a central hub for me when needing anything from office supplies, to a barber, to someone who might help me heft a couch up the rickety walk-up to my apartment.

            Lying there that first night I couldn’t sleep. Unfamiliar sounds (was that a rat…a rattlesnake, maybe…?) kept me from dozing and I looked out the window to see some of the brightest stars I’d ever seen. Certainly, they were the same stars I’d viewed in the skies over Tacoma but here where the sky enveloped the land with a sense of awe, the stars seemed to punch out their crystalline brilliance against the backdrop of black velvet. I felt a little overwhelmed, as well as a little melancholy as I tried to fathom how I’d make this new state my home. But the little town must have sensed my anxiety as it had a way of rolling out the friendly welcome carpet. It was just asking me to be patient.

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4 Responses to A Gentle Hug From Texas

  1. Sandee Marvin says:

    I can’t wait to read the rest! You have a way with words John that draws the reader in. You paint a very visual picture.

  2. David Colton says:

    Reading this brought tears to my eyes John…..You are brave and such a deeply sensitive artist and your life has been full of ,much that would cause others to surrender to despair but you make poetry and life from all of your experiences….I am always so proud to know you dear John…….

    • John says:

      Oh, David, your words always buoy me. THANK YOU for being part of my life. I’ve always thought putting words on paper (and so much of the creative I indulge in) truly started in your classes. So there you go 🙂

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