Sunday, September 4, 2011

I need to live in a land where it rains

When we moved to Austin in March we told our family and friends we would stay for at least five years. We figured that would give Neil substantial on-the-job experience and would be far enough in the future that the thought of another move did not make us what to run screaming the other direction (have I mentioned that we’ve moved four times in four years?). I was looking forward to having no move in sight; we’d be able to put down real roots and become part of the community. Six months into life in Central Texas, how am I feeling?

GET ME OUT OF HERE.

The weather is sucking away my soul. It may sound melodramatic, but it’s how I feel.  I think it has rained for a total of an hour since we moved here six months ago. It’s not the heat—truly, it’s not.  Yes, it has been over a hundred degrees for 75+ days this year (a new record). Yes, I do work outside on farms most of the week in that heat. Yes, this is a real exchange I had with another volunteer on Friday:

Volunteer: It feels so nice out today.

Me: I know! It’s only supposed to be 101 degrees today!

We’re excited about it only being 101 degrees. What kind of place do I live where 101 degrees feels like a cold front? Even so, it’s not the heat. I can deal with the heat. We haven’t even turned on our air conditioning (except for the weekend when my sister and her husband visited).

If it’s not the heat, then what is it? The lack of rain. When I see or hear about rain (on the television, in conversations, in my dreams…) it literally brings tears to my eyes. The environment here feels so… inhospitable… like we (human beings) shouldn’t be living here.

This weather has reminded me of discussions Neil and I last June when I applied for a job in Tucson. We had long conversations about whether it would be the right move to make if I got the job (I didn’t). What would it mean to be living in a land that was not meant to support that many people? In the end, we didn’t have to decide between the job and our environmental/philosophical values, so I’m not sure what the end of that story would have been. I can say that we both feel that there are certain places that people are not supposed to live in the numbers they currently do, and the southwest of this country is one of those places. Austin is not supposed to be in the southwest climate. It’s supposed to be in beautiful Texas Hill Country.

I call bullshit.

I need to live in a land where it rains. Everything here is brown. What’s not brown is disgustingly green grass that homeowners are wasting precious water watering. I can’t stay for five years. I absolutely cannot. This year is supposedly extreme, but it seems that extreme is the direction weather patterns are moving. The last extreme year? 2009. I’ll wait for the supposedly wet winter months before drawing my line in the sand, but if next summer is the same as this one we’ll need to start seriously looking for work in a city where rain is not the rarity that it is here.

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