This is what a sunny autumn afternoon looks like in our backyard. By autumn, I mean that yesterday, it was 60 degrees and sunny, while those back in Central New York (and in other parts of the northeast) were digging out from a 15-inch snowfall.
The stuff hanging from the tree, which is a live oak (after they shed their leaves in fall, they bud again immediately instead of waiting until spring), is Spanish moss. It's pretty and it gives an ancient, mysterious feel to the trees it hangs from. It's also home to a mite called the chigger, which will inject a digestive hormone into your skin and live off an inner layer of skin for a while until you start seeing a rash and get rid of it (which means you don't touch the stuff).
We're starting to meet our neighbors, getting accustomed to walking out the door and spending 15 minutes chatting before getting on our way. The dog is off leash during the day, typically.
We got to meet the good Brothers of Roger Lacey Lodge No. 722 and their Ladies at their election and installation. We're finding community.
We have enough stuff unpacked to cook a decent meal. The first thing that wasn't a simple veggie omelet was ox tail soup, with yucca root, carrots and onions. I took some of the beef fat from the soup, cooked some kale in it and poured the soup over the kale.
We found some sriracha amongst our things, and added it for some spice.
If you haven't had it, yucca root has sort of the consistency of a chewy potato, but with a hint of a sort of coconut sweetness to it.
By early next week, we'll have most of the amenities of home. Our furniture will be out of storage, as will our washer and dryer. Our TV and Internet hookup will be connected. We'll have stuff to get rid of and trash day to figure out, but that can all wait until it needs to happen.
In the meantime, we have fresh air and sunshine, and we've spent a lot of time speaking to the neighbors. We miss our friends back in CNY, but we'll connect soon, there, here or in between.
By the miracle of WordPress scheduling, as this writing publishes, I'm spending my birthday unloading a giant truck into a storage unit in Savannah, Georgia.
Many of our friends know we've been eyeing Savannah for a long time. We expected we'd be down here sooner, and we expected we'd have more time to say our goodbyes.
Our house didn't sell, but we got a lot of rental interest from a Craigslist ad. And the couple who wanted to rent from us had to be out of their house in Kentucky on Nov. 13. That was too quick for us, but we signed the lease Nov. 4 and told them we'd be out the door by Nov. 17.
In the world of packing up a house, reserving a truck, getting a driving route, booking hotels and still figuring out where I'm going to be able to work, since they need me, too, this is not a very long time. It's barely even enough time. In fact, we're unloading into a storage unit because we had to be out of the house before we were able to scout out places to live.
I came to Syracuse in 2003. While I had some built-in connections in my grad program, it was a very specific group of people and we had a lot of work to do. There was very little socializing, and no one knew anything about the city.
So I went out and I found communities. One person I befriended, who eventually left town, had grown up in Syracuse and thought there was nothing to do.
As a gay black man, maybe that was true until he was an adult in mainstream society. Until I walked into his cafe, he didn't know there were brewpubs in town. He had never sat in the bleachers at a Chiefs game.
Sometimes it takes an outsider to show the lifers what's going on.
I got involved in a lot of stuff. A poetry reading, 40 Below, CNY SPaRC, the Future Fund, Alchemical Nursery, SyracuseFirst, some recreational sports leagues. Probably a few other things I'm missing. Someone nominated me for and I won a 40 Under 40 award.
I've made a lot of friends, who are all very much my local family, with my blood relatives scattered throughout Massachusetts, South Carolina and Texas, and wherever else all the distant cousins went.
I became a Freemason in Central New York, something which has provided me with some amazing friends as well as a sense of focus and purpose I didn't have before.
Central New York and I have given each other 11 years. It's hard to say how much of each other we've taken, though I am removing with me my lovely wife, so either way I'm the winner there.
Her family is all in the Syracuse area, so we will, surely, be back several times a year. It's not goodbye, just see you later.
What's in Savannah? We don't know, really. We've met some people already. We've seen the city; it's lovely. Palm trees, live oaks, beaches. People who are generous, friendly and still somewhat guarded about themselves and their city, but welcoming anyway.
There are lots of people our age starting things, there's an art and design school, there's a TEDx contingent. There's a tech movement and a maker movement. There are lots and lots and lots of parks.
We're hedging our bets a little, going down to rent, figuring if we end up not liking it, it'll be easy enough to pack up and move on without dealing with trying to sell another house. And we're already done with the wedding, so planning that is off our plates, too.
I'm sure over the next month or two there will be a lot of posts in this space, some of them dealing with culture shock, some of them dealing with things we've discovered. Maybe some photo essays.