Mexico No Filters - Instituto Nacional de Migración

by Cat Calhoun
Temp House, Austin, Texas, USA

I love to fly. That moment when the engine gears up and the wheels start to roll? Don’t talk to me, man. I don’t wanna chitchat with you. I want to experience that thrill I get when the nose lifts off the ground and I’m pinned to my seat, that weightless moment when the plane is accelerating into the air, that raw power of the machine! Yes!! Love it!

Mexico No Filters - waiting for takeoff

But then there are those flights where I stow my bag under the seat in front of me, strap myself in, the plane rolls away from the gate, it gets still and I just know I’m going to be in Thrillsville in a second….. and then the captain’s voice comes over the speakers and says, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are experiencing a departure delay…” Now I’m parked on the pavement in an increasingly hot metal tube with a bunch of disgruntled, muttering people who just want to get where they are going.

Right now, right this second, my wife and I are stuck on the tarmac of our big adventure. We are parked in our short term rental waiting for documents, sorting through the remaining flotsam and jetsam, trying to figure out what long term address the IRS will use to badger us, getting my mother-in-law’s papers in order (because we’ve added the complication of moving her to Mexico as well) and don’t know exactly when the adventure will continue. Until then, we’ll wait for passports, visas, marriage certificates, and the like and I’ll gripe about it on a blog.

Voluntarily “Homeless”

Mexico No Filters - The house we sold

by Cat Calhoun
Temp House, Austin, Texas, USA

No one really tells you this, but there is a serious sensation of terror that comes along with being limitless and free. If you’ve been on a badass rollercoaster you might know what I’m talking about. There’s the thrill of weightlessness and motion coupled with the thrill of fear and the knowledge that there’s really not much between a safe return and a crash-and-burn scenario.

We sold our house today. Most of our possessions are a thing of the past. And now we are free. No more constant home vigilance: no home insurance to pay, no lawn to upkeep, no more dripping faucet fixing. Freedom!

Mexico No Filters - The House We Let Get Away
Goodbye, good house. Thanks for the awesome decade.

But with that freedom, that escape from the maze and the grab for material possessions that is the true American religion, there is a crazy sense of fear. We’ve stepped out of the hologram. No one is coming after us to make us go back in. It’s wide open country from here and it’s a little frightening.

Goodbye, sweet house. We’ll miss you. . . and not.

The Devil Wears Avia

Mexico No Filters - Devil Shoes

by Cat Calhoun
Our House, Austin, Texas, USA

I love shoes. Unfortunately, I’ve got this history of messing up my feet by wearing “cute” shoes. So yesterday, when I knew I was going to have to clear out the house we are selling by myself (because my wife had to work, that’s why), I decided to give my worn-out feet a break by switching from my hiking shoes to the Avia athletic shoes I used to wear in my acupuncture clinic, thereby defeating the “death by cute shoe” effect.

Sound reasoning, right? Not so much. About 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon after a six hour stretch working on my feet on a hard concrete floor, my right ankle started ache, but I had so much more to do I couldn’t afford to waste an hour driving across town to The Temp House and back for a different pair, so I just plowed through. I finished an impressive majority of the house and garage clean-out by 10pm with a pronounced limp.

I woke at 2 am this morning with my left knee and right ankle doing a call and response song of agony. I couldn’t sleep much the rest of the night. Now I’m aching, and it hurts to put weight on either limb, but know we have to go back and finish cleaning the house today. Fortunately, this will be over soon. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Moral to the story: Wear shoes you *know* support your feet, not those athletic shoes you’ve had in the back of the closet for a long time. There’s a reason they were banished back there in the first place.

The Cold Dark Winter Day

Mexico No Filters - Ice day in Texas

by Cat Calhoun
Temp House, Austin, Texas, USA

Do you know what you don’t need when you are trying like hell to get out of your house by Friday and want to leave it really clean for the new owners? An ice day in Texas.

If you aren’t from the South, you might think we are wimps for this, but we are so not prepared winter. And why would we be? What city in their right mind would buy a ton of snow and ice equipment and materials when they can only expect 3-5 total bad winter days per year?

Mexico No Filters - Scraping Ice Texas Style
Ice scraper? What’s that? We just use credit cards here. Or spatulas. Whatever.

So when hell freezes over and cold, solid forms of water fall from the sky, we do what all good Southerners do – we panic as if the world was ending and dash to the local grocery stores, frantically grabbing and elbowing our way through the water, milk, bread, beer, and toilet paper aisles, shoving enough of these goods into our vehicles to start our own small town. Do we acknowledge that in 48 hours it will once again be 60 degrees Fahrenheit? We do not. We know that we will be stuck indoors for the duration, most of us with children. Cities, businesses, roads, and school districts will all shut down. We might never see civilization again. We’d better be prepared.

And this is what is happening today and tomorrow. A hearty few will venture out. I can hear them now zipping down the road in front of the temporary house. I don’t hear crashes or sirens, so I have to assume they are having some measure of success, but I also know that my fellow Texans don’t know how to drive in rain, much less in sleet, ice, and the few snow flurries I see. I’m not leaving.

Mexico No Filters - Snow in the South
Preparation for bad weather, Southern Style. Not shown: beer. There should really be a six pack in this painting.

Yesterday, before Ice-pocalypse: Texas Style hit, we did several runs from the house we are selling to our temporary digs (6 more weeks before we hit the road!) in semi-trendy, semi-east Austin. We got the essential stuff that is left – bedroom, kitchen, bath, and cat necessities – and ported it over to Casa Soluna (yes, this place has a name). The last load, which included the cats, was completed in the first wave of the storm in a cold rain.

Now here we are, mostly settled into our new place. Settling in doesn’t take long when you have sold almost everything. We didn’t really want a rest day, but we have one today and tomorrow and this is good. We are getting over Hell Flu, after all.

The Big Split

Mexico No Filters - breaking up with Austin

When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, you get comfortable and settled, even if you really aren’t happy with the arrangement any longer. Untangling the knots that hold you together, no matter how dysfunctional, is So. Much. Work. But at some point you know you have to cut through those knots, let the bits fall, and start clean.

Am I talking about my relationship with my partner? No. I’m talking about my relationship with the city we live in. What I’m saying is Austin is breaking up with us hard. I suppose that is to be expected, right? Both of us have been here for decades. DeLora was drawn here by her university experience. I got here later, but was part of the wave of migration to Austin that has changed the city from What Was Cool to an increasingly corporate feeling big city that resembles nothing either of us was drawn to. And yeah, I realize I’m part of the problem.

Mexico No Filters - Quarantined
The flu was not kind to us – but then, we didn’t like it much either.

So right after Christmas, just as this move out of Austin was coming down hard and we were getting ready to sell the house like for real, my partner and I got hella sick with the flu. It was a whopper of a virus that came along with an opportunistic bacterial respiratory infection. Yippee! During all of this my mother in law went into ICU with pneumonia. And there were plumbing problems from hell in the house we’ve lived in for going on 11 years which we had never experienced before.

Austin and the house we love aren’t taking this all that well. They are making it a physical struggle even while they are making it easy to emotionally disconnect, cuz who wants to stick around for that kind of abuse?

Stuff Issues

Did you ever see the movie Apollo 13? There is a point in the movie where the crew has to jettison anything that is unnecessary in order to complete their journey. That’s what the past several months have been here. My partner and I are moving to a foreign country, maybe the first of several. Who knows? All I know is it is time to travel, to simplify our lives, and to lift our heads out of the bubble that we were born into and see the world from a new perspective.

Mexico No Filters - Empty garage
The emptiest our garage has been since 2007. Stuff: jettisoned!

We started this journey more than a year ago, selling off things that didn’t serve us, and improving our house for sale. It’s happened in waves. The most recent wave started with the KonMari method of laying everything out by categories and jettisoning anything that no longer brings joy. The only things left are those that bring a smile and that feel good to have around.

As it turns out, that still wasn’t sufficient. We pared everything down to what seemed like a manageable chunk of belongings, but as the move date has drawn closer and closer we have realized that we still have Way Too Much. Basically, if it won’t fit in the back of an extra cab pickup with a locking camper shell or a Subaru Forester (still deciding on that), it can’t come along.

Why not store it, you ask? Because People Who Have Done This all agree that you end up paying more in storage fees than it would have cost to just repurchase any item you actually discover you need. The same people also agree that you really don’t need even a fraction of the stuff you think you do. And it’s true. All of the stuff I have stored in the “manageable” pile in the garage? I haven’t opened those boxes in months and really haven’t needed most of it.

So today is the last day of The Big Moving Sale. I’ve advertised like mad on Facebook and a great local neighborhood app called NextDoor. Stuff is leaving my house as money is coming in from the sales items. For the record, I basically have no problem with this. I seriously think I could probably walk out the door with a suitcase full of clothes and personal hygiene products, art supplies, some of my favorite few kitchen items, and stuff for my cats and never look back. I’m a purging fool by nature.

Mexico No Filters - The Hero
DeLora conquering her stuff.

But my wife has some stuff issues. It’s not that she is materialistic, but items she owns are often highly charged with memories and experiences. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen her pick up a Thing from a Box and tell me that 30 years ago she got this at….. Each thing is a storage archive. She has lived in a sea of memories, a catalogue of her life in three dimensions. I cannot imagine the courage or the grief it has taken her to part with it. If anyone is the hero in this post, it’s her.