The past week has been both so action-packed, and yet so quiet, that it’s hard for me to believe that at this moment seven days ago, Lloyd and I were holed up in the tiniest, most craptacular airport hotel of our shared experience, watching Law and Order: CI, trying to fall asleep so that we could wake up good and early for our car to the airport. At the time, nothing loomed larger to me than the plane ride, of zipping across space and time, chasing morning across the country, watching the landscape change, bumping gently over the Great Lakes, noticing the ground suddenly becoming closer as we flew over the Rockies, descending into San Jose just before lunchtime. (The last two flights I had in and out of San Jose, I flew at night, so I had never seen the ground below me before. “We live here now,” I thought as I watched us descend over flatlands, hillocks and chapparal, and I wanted to laugh and cry all at once.) I had thought, honestly, that once the flight was behind us, the hardest work was behind us, too. We had packed and shipped and junked our way out of New York City. Everything else would be gravy.
I won’t say that our first week here has been harder than anything that has come previous to this—nothing, but nothing, will ever be harder than the Thursday the junk men came—but I can’t say it’s been terrifically relaxing, either. We hit the ground running in San Jose. From the starting point of the big fugly SUV we rented at the airport (which is too freaking big for most of the available parking spots in town, but works like a charm for moving boxes around, which is why we opted for an SUV as opposed to a nice hatchback or sedan), we have spent the past week travelling the Enforced Cultural Death March that is the freeway. If I haven’t mentioned it lately, Lloyd is my hero. He drives that big fugly thing onto entry and exit ramps like nobody’s business, he merges carefully but assertively, he occasionally shows annoyance but he never, ever, ever shows fear. I, on the other hand, do.
There are about 500 lovely things to do on any given day here, from walking to the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden to visiting my dear Northern California-based friends who have waited patiently for us, but for the most part we’ve been tuckered out by driving from Fremont to San Jose, running a series of errands (getting our storage locker, greeting the big rig full of our stuff and unpacking it, opening bank accounts, etc.) and then driving back to Fremont. Tomorrow morning Lloyd and I will go to the DMV and take our written test. Once we have our shiny new California licenses in hand, we can arrange to get that special auto insurance that you get when you don’t yet own a car—so that when we *do* go buy our car, we can say “hey, look, we’re insured!” We’ll start car shopping. We have finished bike shopping, and even as we speak, we are waiting to take delivery on our new Schwinns. Monday night, we’ll try to score some groceries. On Tuesday we finally take the big fugly SUV back to the airport and ride back to our neighborhood via the Airport Flyer. At some point Lloyd will board a bus to Palo Alto to do a dry run of his commute before he goes back to work on Friday. I, meanwhile, will be doing my required reading for orientation, which starts on Wednesday. We’ll be doing all of this from a suite at a grotty little motor inn within walking distance of school. When we booked the room, I was so thrilled to be in a place that didn’t involve Rollerball-like levels of travel stress that I didn’t care much about amenities, at least until our landlord said “gee, are you sure you want to stay there?” (I nearly answered, “well, no, but since we can’t move in until the end of the month, we aren’t exactly spoiled for choice.” But like our old landlord, our new landlord is a likeable guy, and I don’t want to piss hime off with my snarktastic tongue.)
All of this laundry-listing is to say that dear friends, I am so hungry to land in a place of our own that I can feel actual hunger pangs. I don’t want to live indefinitely off of Trader Joe’s food, coffeebar sandwiches and Big Bags of Frozen Meat from Costco. (Yes, we ponied up for a Costco membership. I live for the day when I can bring home entire pallets of Fat Tire and economy boxes of Cheez-Its.) I want to unpack my pots and pans and cookbooks and baking sheets. I want to bake a goddamned loaf of bread. I want to go to the Capitol Flea Market and buy 30 pounds of apricots for jam. I want to go to smaller, shaggier flea markets and buy butter lettuces and banana shallots. Until we can get our hands on our own orange tree, I want to buy four pounds of oranges for a dollar and suck them all dry. I want to make bright, beautiful food for our friends, but especially for Lloyd, to whom New York City was not especially kind, from a physical-health perspective. Most of all, I just want to sit still for a while, in our living room or on the deck in our backyard, knowing that no matter how busy the coming weeks and months will be—and, make no mistake, they will be busy—we won’t have to plan the logistics of how we’re going to come or go. We’ll just sit still, even as we’re also moving into something truly amazing.
I have to admit, I oversimplified a bit. It hasn’t all been filling out forms and driving out to Fremont. We’ve had a chance to eat some terrific food (although I think I picked up a little food poisoning at a taqueria, but I hope I’m wrong because I really want to go back and try their tamales), from machaca in San Jose to pho in Fremont. On ‘mouse’s recommendation, we took a drive out to his flea market of choice, which was noisy and raucous and every bit as much fun as he promised it would be. To the surprise of no one, I found the yarn store in San Jose, a short bike ride from our house and a short walk from my upcoming part-time job. (Confidential to Momerina: Come now. No, really, right now. Are you on the plane yet?) And, of course, as soon as we felt solid earth under our feet, we took a walk to the Municipal Rose Garden after all. Those showy beauties are just too damn irresistible to not visit.
Happy start of the working week, dear friends. With any luck, I will be considerably less truculent, and more voluble, once I have some interesting school tales to tell.