Acclimatising

Over the last few days I have seen a guy driving down an 8-lane highway on an ATV. I have seen a number plate that claimed to 'Fight Terrorism.' I have been called ma'am more times than I can count. I have discovered that American Ikea is eerily identical to Australian Ikea. I have eaten at Torchy's Tacos, where they sell a 'Dirty Sanchez.' I have watched a guy doing yoga in an empty lot surrounded by debris and weeds. And David has spotted a guy in a cave in local bushland with his pants around his ankles.

This is a diverse city.


Sunflowers! Everywhere!

Yes, this place really was called Groovy Lube. It looked like a bar?

David at Spicewood Springs, just before spotting the man in the cave with his pants around his ankles...

A forest of cacti on a suburban street

Pawnshops! Everywhere!
We are slowly starting to find our feet here now. I've had a promising email from the person who I want to do some voluntary work with, so fingers very, very tightly crossed on that. We have possibly found a car that isn't either outrageously expensive or about to drop its exhaust pipe 50 metres down the road. We've both had haircuts and are looking like members of civilised society rather than Animal from The Muppets. Every day does bring new challenges and confusions, but that's part of the adventure in a lot of ways. If it were all just plain sailing, we may as well stay at home. So I get on the phone and ask a thousand questions and I grow to like Americans more every day. I know, I know, never stereotype a nationality. But I haven't come across anyone rude or unhelpful yet. The staff at Whole Foods positively glow as I reach their register. The guy who sold me renters insurance only half-jokingly offered to help us move into our house. It's exactly as bizarre and lovely as it sounds.

There are some dots that I still haven't been able to connect yet though. Like queso. Or the Velveeta that goes in it. Just...no.


Finding home

Here we are, at the start of our third week. This city is still so foreign to us. We drive down these huge roads that look like slightly seedier versions of Parramatta Road, with their huge carparks out front, dodgy finance brokers, pawn shops and used car dealerships. In between, there are fancy restaurants, cafes, doctors, bars, jewellers, petrol stations and tattoo artists. My brain hurts just trying to process it all as we drive by. The malls seem to be the only places with any sense of cohesion, but their vastness and muzak and emptiness during midweek make me feel like I could be murdered by a serial killer at any given moment.

At the moment, all of this seems even more surreal because we're living in such a limbo. Living out of a hotel room long-term is a kind of strange experience which isolates you from reality in a lot of ways. I theoretically could cook in here, but each hotplate is the size of a coffee cup, so it definitely fits in the too hard basket. We've been eating out a LOT, which means a bit less healthy food, a bit more pizza, a bit more burger and a bit more drinking. Also, some of the beer is 8% over here. Ask me how I know...

On the upside though, we have a HOUSE! A house of with 3 bedrooms (!), a beautiful kitchen and a backyard. I'm thrilled. We move in in just two weeks and I think it's going to make a huge difference - we'll be down in a more fun part of town, we'll be able to have a bit more of a structure, and most of all, our own space. Sort of. Except for that clause in the lease which says that the landlord can legally come into our home at any time of their choosing with NO warning. What?! Oh yes. Also, if we're late on our rent, they can come in and take our stuff. Seriously. I mean, I don't think we will be late ever, but I just...This country is weird. Really weird.

Lovely, no? And yes, this image of the inside of our house was online. Also odd.


Anyway though, we have a house. I know what bike I'm going to buy as soon as we move in, and it is beautiful. We just need to get a car now.

"I've got the perfect car for you! It's a 2005 Corolla, 100,000 miles on the clock, $7500 all in! Come see it!"
"Um, half the paintwork on the roof, bonnet and boot has come off?"
"Oh yes! Seen a bit of that Texan sun! They're good cars though, Corolla's"

...

"So sir, what are you looking for?"
"Well, we're hoping not to spend over $10,000..."
"Can't be done. Don't have anything like that here."
(Me) "Well, we could potentially look at a little more for the right car..."
"Sir, you and your wife there [nods head in my direction] will need to spend at least $15,000"

...

I think that one might take a little longer.

Fourth of July

I'm sitting outside in half sun, half shade right now. It's hot but not too bad, although I suspect I'll get burnt. I need a sombrero in this city. My pasty English skin is built for Texas in the same way that it's built for Australia - i.e. it's not.

So, yesterday was Fourth of July. It was David's first day off since arriving and my first day not needing to run around on admin errands. Obviously the logical thing was to sleep in until 11am...

And missed all the parades. Boo.

We drove out to Lake Travis, hoping to get down to the water and walk around. Most of the waterfront is private property though (freaking MASSIVE houses! With TURRETS!), and the parts that you can visit, you have to pay to enter. We ended up at this weird place called the Oasis for a while, which was this weird combination of kitsch meets rustic meets fairytale princess, combined with a bar and a shop that advertised a slightly odd combination of 'Wine Tastings, Cigars and Olive Oil.'


The view was pretty lovely though, although the water level is about 20m lower than usual due to a drought and it was so hot that everything was heat-hazy.


We basically loitered for the rest of the day. My brain still hasn't regained full function yet. There may have been an incident on Wednesday afternoon where I spent about an hour watching episodes of Honey Boo Boo Child.
When I'm tired, I clearly have no shame.
Point being though, I couldn't really figure out where to go or what to do, and neither could David. So we loitered around and drove around and read horoscopes in the Onion over a super cheesy sandwich. My favourite was Leo: 'Don't neglect the spiritual side of your life. Find the best person you know, nail him to a cross and worship him.' Ahem.

Later in the evening, the fireworks display was really pretty decent. I've been thoroughly spoiled by the Sydney ones though, so it's sort of difficult to impress me. Still, it was fun being in a different country for a different celebration, especially with the drunk college girls nearby slurring through the Stars and Stripes. It was kind of like public celebrations at home, only more patriotic.


And today it's the fifth, and I'm back to housing and bank accounts. And, Honey Boo Boo. I'm still pretty tired.



Frustrations and happinesses

We're onto our third full day here and it's been surprisingly hectic. I had vague dreams of spending a week lazing about in bed and watching bad daytime TV. Instead, I've spent the best part of the time touring around open houses, researching and going to banks and trying to figure out how to get a mobile phone when we don't have a frickin' Social Security number.

If I'm honest, it's slightly frustrating. I'm doing everything in my power to be organised and get everything to flow smoothly, but I'm reliant on so many bureaucratic processes that it's just about making me tear my hair out. As far as I can see, I need permission to work to get a Social Security number, but to get permission to work, I need to be put in touch with the attorney from David's work - and for that to happen, I need the people at his work to take time out of their busy work to faff around on my behalf.

Grump.

Aside for all the administrative pains in the jaxy, I'm enjoying it here. It's been cooler since Saturday, coming in at the mid-high 30s, which is surprisingly pleasant, probably because it's not that humid. Best of all, weather-wise, the sky is the same white-blue as a hot, hot day at home. The Australian sky is one thing I often get homesick for, so this is weirdly important. It also stays light super late, so we've spent evenings outside, drinking awesome local beers and talking after David gets home from work. It's a really lovely, laid-back way to finish the day.

I also saw a squirrel outside the Whole Foods Market yesterday and I nearly exploded with happiness. It really is the littlest of things it seems...


Arrival

Hello Austin!

After one of the most stressful, hectic and emotionally draining weeks of my life, we finally made it to our new home. Getting here was an insane process though - packing our entire lives into a small storage pod, a few suitcases and a whole lot of bags for the Salvos was a completely surreal and overwhelming experience that took a bazillion gillion times longer than we'd anticipated. Not to mention the heartbreak of having to put this little lady to sleep, as her cancer was clearly spreading faster and causing her more and more pain.

After that, I kept expecting her to appear in the cupboards I'd already cleaned, or to have to chase her out of the neighbours garden while we had the front door open, or go leaping down the hallway ahead of me. It didn't happen and it was really hard.

-

We have made it to Austin now. It's been crazy hot - it was 42 degrees celsius at 7pm on the day we arrived! We've only been here one full day, but I've been pretty blown away by the friendliness of everyone - even the guy at the climbing store who could not seem to understand me when I said the word 'wall.' Eventually, David tried saying 'Warrl' and the guy was all 'Oh, you mean warrl! I'm so sorry! I thought you were saying war!'
Snortle.

I really think this place will grow on me fast.

Progress

On Saturday morning, I walked out to get coffee to see a big 'FOR LEASE' sign had been strapped to our front fence. My heart broke just a little. I love our house so much, but in just over a week, it won't be our house any longer. I'm sure we'll find somewhere equally lovely when we get back, but this house was just a bit special to me.

We've begun packing in earnest now. Half our furniture is on ebay and the house is full of cardboard box landmines, ready to trip us at any moment.
I keep finding weird, forgotten items that I didn't unpack when we moved house last time. Like a two year old calendar. Or an ugly, ugly handbag that I thought I'd thrown out years ago.I can't say I'm loving the whole sorting/packing thing, but a little furry someone sure is:


Look at that little rockstar face! She's actually yawning, but whatever. She looks like she's moshing at a Metallica gig. She is LOVING the boxes.

T minus 8 days to go.



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