Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Feelings About My New Home
It’s so hot here. All I can do is accept that the extreme heat is going to turn my accustomed lifestyle upside down. I mean, it’s REALLY hot, even for this region. The average high temperature this time of year is 90 but we’re closer to the 100 degree mark and the humidity makes it feel way hotter. Stepping outside just long enough to get to the car and cool off its insides absolutely knocks me out. If I do that a few times in the middle of the day, I need an hour nap to regain my energy. I don’t have a job yet, so I’m free to follow that schedule but it’s a strange thing. Mandatory naps have never been a part of my adult habit.
Yet this seems fitting for my current phase of existence. In the spirit of a chosen new life, I’m trying to do everything a little differently. This change in attitude began with the move itself. Having once possessed very little (including a sense of patience with myself) I used to approach moves in a very hurried and disorganized fashion. But since Dan and I together have accumulated about 10 times more possessions than I ever owned by myself, and seeing as I had no other occupation, I decided that for this move I would indulge my obsessively organized inner librarian. I packed dishes, CDs, LPs and books in the precise order in which I wanted to unload them. I designated boxes we never need to open (you know, the sentimental stuff you can’t bear to throw away but hardly ever view). My last unpacking task will be creating a screened hiding spot in the corner of our loft-like space where all those boxes can live as long as we are living here.
This organized planning has made the unpacking process actually enjoyable. I can spend more time thinking how I will fit this stuff into our unusual living space. Our apartment is half of a refurbished auto shop. The front wall is a 12 paneled glass and steel garage door. The outside walls are painted cinder blocks. The space is divided into two giant rooms. The front room features an industrial kitchen – it’s my new favorite toy, with its ample counter space and enormous sink (cooking soup stock will no longer be a logistical nightmare!) I also love the poured concrete floors throughout. It doesn’t matter if you splash outside of the shower or spill a cup of water, it all just soaks into the floor. This apartment is a funky space, but it’s also well built, surprisingly practical and (thankfully!) centrally cooled. It’s a pretty fun place to while away a long, sultry afternoon.
It’s a good thing that I like home so much because the midday heat and a sense of social awkwardness keep me there often. I know that I must fight the urge to remain a hermit, but again I am trying to be patient with myself and take on this new life at a comfortable pace. The thing is, I really do stick out in Chattanooga. It isn’t just my accent or my untanned northern white flesh. Cotton clad, short-haired women who don’t wear makeup are pretty uncommon in these parts. I don’t feel compelled to transform myself, but not since high school have I felt so different from everyone around me. And for someone like me, who is apt to gladly melt into social invisibility, this sense of difference is a little startling. My goal is to have fun with it. My social experiences so far have shown me that most people here are outwardly friendly and polite, which makes it easier, though I have caught a couple people staring at me. I just smile back at them.
Nevertheless, I do admit that I love having so much alone time at the house because I get to enjoy the vast media library that I so dutifully packed, hauled and unpacked. We own six milk crates of vinyl that we neglected when we had cable TV in the spring and early summer. Since we have no need for cable now (our digital antenna gets excellent reception) and we won’t get internet hooked up for almost three weeks, I have a new interest in our fantastic album collection. We have a vintage record store display rack that we use to hold our current favorites, and in the spirit of a new life, I have made myself refile the old favorites and bring out some new ones. It’s been fun. I’ve been listening to a lot of 80s British stuff like Aztec Camera and Style Council, as well as singer-songwriter-y fare from the mid 70s, like Paul Simon and Todd Rundgren. Now that I think of it, it’s the stuff that Dan probably doesn’t want to hear. Yeah, being alone in our new home is not yet boring.
Oh, and that digital antenna has reintroduced me to the wonder of RTV, the Retro Television Network. Before we got cable, I found many hours of solace on a harsh winter’s night watching reruns of “Simon and Simon” and (cringe) “Matlock” on channel 007-02. I know that RTV is included with some cable packages, but we didn’t get it with AT&T U-verse and somehow it seems way more appropriate as an antenna-only network. The RTV lineup includes shows I totally forgot – like “Simon and Simon”, “I Spy” and “Kate and Allie” – along with some genuinely good shows – like “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” – and adds to it a lot of weird ass shit that I never knew – like the short-lived 1960s comic western “Laredo”, which I LOVE. Interestingly, RTV is based in Chattanooga and of course I have fantasies about being their chief programmer (first order of business – acquire Martin Mull’s 1970’s mock talk show “Fernwood 2Night”), but in the meantime, I’m having fun enjoying their bizarre lineup. Again, it’s something different.
This introduction to my new home is not what I imagined. I thought of myself wandering the neighborhood, checking out the local businesses, but that’s tricky in this dangerous heat. At least I can take advantage of the short distance between our place and Niedlov’s bakery, with it’s speedy wireless internet. Perhaps today I will wander a bit further down the road to Market Street and look at some of the boutiques. It may be worth an afternoon nap to see what else my new town has to offer, and today I am in the mood to do something (there's that word again) different.