|Coming home from a walk, looking down our street.|
To get our mail one has to walk down the street and around the corner to a collection of locked mailboxes, much like one would find at an apartment complex. The suburban neighborhood we live in prefers this set up because they think mailboxes clutter up front yards. The post office prefers this because it is more efficient for delivering mail. Some residents prefer this because mail is secure under lock and key.
At first, six years ago, I brushed off the walk to the mailboxes as a simple curiosity of our new life in Texas. But soon I found it inconvenient. I wanted to walk out the front door, breathe in some fresh air, catch a glimpse of the sunset and go back into the house with my mail before a toddler could take an opportunity to climb up on a counter, or a five year old could begin a work of art on the wall.
Despite this, the irritation of not having immediate access to our mailbox brought surprising opportunities. Many times I got our mail at night, after the kids were tucked in, drinking in the vision of the Texas night sky. Sometimes the kids and I would get the mail as a part of a walk around the neighborhood. Fistfulls of wildflowers--aka weeds--were pulled out by tiny hands for a spot in the kitchen window. As the kids got older, they loved the job of getting the mail on their own. Walking around the corner out of Mom's sight was an adventure!
A rattlesnake once took up residence in the empty lot on the corner, near the mailboxes. I could hear it rattle one night as I came up to the lot. I couldn't bring myself to believe the rattling was truly a diamondback, but I walked in a wide arc around the corner instead of through it just to be safe. The unseen rattler warned me for nearly a week and then disappeared. A neighborhood newsletter confirmed a diamondback had been caught there.
One very wet summer, when my fourth was just a baby, fat toads occupied the path to the mailboxes. My children were delighted! They squealed when the toads hopped in all directions to get out of our way. They invented stories about them and tried to catch them to bring them home.
When we were expecting something good in the mail, the path seemed so short and easy. When grief came with its shroud, the path was pure pain. The summer heat made getting the mail a profound lesson in the necessity of monotony. The clear night sky was an affirmation of God's infinite majesty.
When I think of my husband's new job in Boise, a surge of joy flutters up from my stomach then through my heart to my head, like the sensation of going down after cresting the highest point of a rollercoaster. It's thrilling!
This is a corporate move, picking us up from Austin at warp speed to rapidly reach escape velocity. The preparation to leave has been bittersweet. We will not miss those odious molds and pollens which doctors verify are "unique to Austin." We will not pine away for a summer that lasts from April until late November with a merciless sun whose radiant heat burns even through the night. But we will miss the people. We will especially miss our friends.
We're leaving Austin. We're really going. There is no other place like it, just as there is no other place like New York or Los Angeles or Boise. Frodo and Sam couldn't have had the same adventure if they had taken a different path, and there were lessons to be learned on our path that could only be learned in Austin.
I would have never chosen to have our mailbox put at the end of the street, around the corner. I would have missed out on those happy, wildflower strewn walks and the lovely views of glittering night skies.
If I had been told that we would be battling severe allergies and sizzling summers, I would not have chosen Austin. I would've never known so many cherished friends. My life would be lacking so many rich conversations over coffee, park days with the co-op, communion at St. Luke's . . .
It is strangely bittersweet to say goodbye to Austin. For all the times that life seemed to just hammer away at us here, for all our longing to leave this place, we somehow grew roots. We leave with the hope of visiting.
Goodbye Austin! May the peace of the Lord be with you, and may we see each other again.