The house I am in is Onion's place. Did I mention that? I've known Onion throughout my adult life. Our friendship is a testament to the value of penpals. Onion found encouraging words for me when this very blog seemed to indicate that I could use some. Ages ago. We stayed in touch, sending updates when we felt inspired, or when a van or tiny house build got particularly interesting. I visited the Walking Onion for the first time when I was traveling to the west coast with Kristin in our Ford Festiva.
It's always interesting to meet a person in real life after knowing them for so long through written words alone. I've experienced this on a handful of occasions. There is a brief period of adjustment as you recalibrate your mental image to the human standing before you. At first glance a stranger, their familiar words, now spoken, become associated with mannerisms and tone as you quickly discover that you already know this person well. Kristin and I received a warm greeting. The bright colorful lights were as evident as the tension in my body as Onion embraced us with a firm sincerity, and calmed me with his gentle smiling eyes.
The following day was gray and misty, and a Ford Festiva isn't much of a retreat. Kristin and I didn't stay long in town - we got no real hint of the essence of Austin on that trip. I was on the run as usual.
I visited Austin and Onion on other occasions after my separation, when I was once again a lone operator; rushing too soon always on spurious missions of self discovery and escape. Onion is somebody who I admire. I have met some wonderful people while wandering. When I reflect on this, my good fortune feels hard to comprehend.
Years later, I am typing this with the front door open. A bucolic spring day is filtering through the vines and flowers which envelop the front porch. I was living a block away in the house with nine of us sharing a kitchen and two bathrooms. I liked that place too. I occupied the front room, which was positioned to receive all abundantly available sunlight. I occupy the equivalent room in this house. Large old windows let in all of the sunlight there is.
This is a little old house standing in a stoic state of disrepair. Onion purchased the house nine years ago, and built auxiliary structures in the sizable backyard for living, bathing, sauna-ing, and storage. Four to five people can live here. The compound is welcoming to friends and travelers. I've parked my vans behind the gate in previous years. I've taken many showers here when headquarters was a van parked on the edge of downtown. Now I share the house with one other person, and it feels like a well-suited match. (It helps, I admit, that I am easy as fuck to get along with.)
The neighborhood has changed since the Walking Onion moved in. The old houses are being bulldozed, and large modern structures are being dropped out of the sky. Property values and taxes are fast on the rise. My good fortune at being able to call this place home has me in a near state of disbelief. For now. For the first time I can remember, I want to be precisely where I am. I hope that it stays this way long enough to catch my breath. I have been unsettled for ages, and while the trip has been blissful at times, I have often felt alone, misunderstood, and indescribably tired.