On First Impressions

It’s a little after 6.30 a.m. and, standing on the porch of my first apartment in America, I watch the torrential downpour outside. It’s dramatic: rain in an angry, determined deluge that just doesn’t happen back home, and I’m glad I’m living a little way up a hill and not in a flood zone.

The coffee pot gurgles and makes other noises for which there are not words in the kitchen about eight feet away. Youngest Child wriggles fitfully on the sofa, as his grandparents have come for a short visit (bringing many gifts) and have taken over his room.

I drive around what is now my new neighborhood. There’s a cake shop, then a shop that sells coffees, herbal teas and great-smelling Chinese food.

I sit inside, drink coffee and read The Onion. They have a patio that would be perfect if the rain wasn’t pouring like a Portland autumn. I’ll come back, I promise myself, just to sit on that back patio. And nothing could spoil the moment.

Taking the child to school, we pull up at a STOP sign. Three deer graze on someone’s lawn, standing there unafraid and calm, staring back at us.

For the sum total of $0, I take the UT shuttle into downtown. It’s early, a little after nine, and the homeless people are just waking up. One guy, with no real sense of where he is, follows me for about half a block before disappearing.

I eat downtown, near the university, at a Thai place. I eat spicy chicken, and it burns at least one layer off my tongue and lips, but it’s completely worth it.

Later, walking to pick the child up from school, there’s squirrels in the trees, squirrels in the grass. It’s a squirrely kind of place. It feels healthy to live like this and, today, I always want to live here.

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