A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no or where to go
Or say we're only dreaming...
The journey to Columbia was long, some 600 miles eastward on Interstate 20, but the day was sunny and marred only by the ubiquitous SAG trails cutting through particulate-laden, glary skies. That's an oppression I constantly feel, but even so, we both felt a release from old ties that receded with the miles. For we must get on with the business of living, especially when the tide in our affairs reaches a crest that we must sail, despite cloudy horizons. So with months of planning and preparation as our bulwark, we drove on, anxious, but less so than would have been the case in our inexperienced years. Now, anxiety from the unknown was tempered with the knowledge of how things work, with confidence in our capabilities, and with the decision made to do something.
We spent some 10 hours on the road. It would have been more had we stopped to eat at restaurants. Instead, Donna made sandwiches and we carried traveling snacks with us. This allowed us to take our meals at rest stops and save much time. Even so, guided by our Global Positioning System device (GPS), we rolled into Columbia after dark.
Even with the GPS, it took us a while to find the Extended Stay motel we had booked. We found a very nice place with a big 'E' over its door that seemed much nicer than we anticipated. It was. The 'E' stood for "Embassy Hotel." Our place was next door and it was not so nice.
The Extended Stay was a basic, two-story, box of rooms. The "extended" aspect was from a mini-fridge, burner-plate, and microwave in the room. The microwave didn't work, the bed covering was ridiculously thin, and the noise from the nearby Interstate kept us awake all night (along with the meanderings and primal calls of our neighbors). We checked out the next day.
We found another Extended Stay dump closer to town. Its microwave worked, though it was a mess, and the bed was a bit more comfortable though the bedding was filthy. The faucet in the bathroom sink barely released a trickle and we shared the room with roaches (small ones in the bathroom). The shower head didn't disperse the water stream so it was like showering with a garden hose. But we were pressed for time and the place was cheap (relatively) so we stayed there. We washed the beddings at a Laundromat and bought some cheap shelving and groceries to get us through the week.
And it was a very busy week. Donna started her new job and that was the brightest point. She was welcomed and quickly valued. While she worked, I searched for a rental house for us. And it had to be a house with a fenced yard for our dog.
Our extended dump had no wifi so I had to take my laptop PC to the city library to do my Internet searches for rentals. I liked the library. It was big (3 floors and a basement) and had tables with electric outlets in the floor beside them. It struck me as an excellent place to do research or just find a quiet corner and write. I'll make use of that place when I'm settled. So every morning, I would drop Donna off at work, drive to the library, pick a table, set up shop, and start searching. I generated a list of properties to search and then packed up and hit the road, letting the GPS take me to all the potentials.
Our first thought was to live in an in-town neighborhood to greatly shorten Donna's commute and be close to the downtown (which is congenial in ambiance and full of neat cafes, restaurants, and shops). In the course of the week, I visited hundreds of houses-for-rent in and around Columbia. All were old and most were dumps or just not suitable for one reason or other. Many neighborhoods were obviously popular for renting to college students (the University of South Carolina is in the south part of town) and that was fine, but college students tend to have lower expectations in housing that we do. By Wednesday, I was very discouraged.
Then I found a house that seemed adequate. It was in a popular neighborhood, was in good shape with hardwood floors throughout, a covered back porch, nice deck, fenced back yard and a storage building. I was hopeful it was the end of my search and had Donna look at it on her lunch break. She liked it too, but after some thought, decided that the master bedroom being in the attic was something she didn't want to deal with (slanted walls making it tough to place furniture and a very steep stairway climb to get to it). So I kept looking.
In the meantime, we did enjoy a couple of nice meals at a cafe and restaurant in town. Michael's is a cafe off Main Street with a wonderfully mellow atmosphere. That day's special was a pizza with salad and a bottle of wine for $20. It was all great and the wine was a good little pinot noir called Nightfall.
Then on Thursday night, a couple of Donna's coworkers treated us to dinner at California Dreaming downtown. This is an upscale restaurant housed in a an old converted train station. The menu was California-oriented and everything on it was great (by reputation). I know the Knob Chicken was great, and so were the seafood nachos. The wine list was Californian and I had a very good cabernet sauvignon called Main Street. There was live entertainment (a guy playing guitar and singing) and a large bar. This place is very popular with the locals and is a great place to entertain. I highly recommend it.
Our house search extended to Friday. This was my last day there and I was feeling the pressure. I found a couple of places that might suit and took Donna to see them at lunch. She wasn't thrilled with them, but while out, we found a neighborhood of patio homes with fenced back yards and a couple were for rent. We called the phone number on a sign in one of the yards and spoke with a property manager who suggested we come into town and get keys to three rentals her company managed. We did, and the second one turned out to be very suitable for us. It was a patio home in the city's northeast section, close to much shopping and the type of support places (grocery, restaurants, etc) that we are used to. The house was very clean with a modern kitchen and a washer/dryer.
The agent fast-tracked our application and we signed a lease that day. Donna was able to move out of the fleabag and into the house the next day. With the purchase of an air mattress and a few items, she is all set to live there until I return with our furniture and the dog.
I flew back to Mississippi the next day (appalled at the SAG spraying seen from the air). Back home, I crashed into a midnight migraine as a I unwound from the week's exertions and stresses. It took a couple of days for me to recover, but I did, and now I'm tying up loose ends and preparing to join Donna in Columbia and setup our house.
I've resigned my IT job of 13 years and that in itself is a major life event for me. I'm glad about it. It is surely time for me to move on to another phase. I described my writing plans in my last journal entry and I look forward to implementing them.
I've had a number of new starts in my life. In many ways, this is the biggest. I feel very positive energies about it; also gratitude that I have this opportunity at this time in my life to break free, to some extent, from the chains of the Taker culture that darkens our collective futures...
I'm like a shooting star
I've come so far
I can't go back
To where I used to be...
...and that my soulmate is with me.
...Let me share this whole new world with you.