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Damn the Chinese.

Please don't misunderstand -- I love our westerly friends as much as the next gal. Egg rolls rock. So do lacquered boxes and mass produced trinkets. Over the past few years, I've come out well ahead on my relationship with this densely populous place. I have received much more than I have given back. But the Chinese didn't seem to mind. Until this summer, we were cool.

My June was as boring as they come -- so dull, in fact, that my mind skipped unbidden to the old fortune cookie staple phrase "May you live in interesting times" one featureless afternoon. Huh, I thought, and proceeded to go back to wondering why my life was suddenly so quiet. No big writing deadlines were breathing down my neck. The baby had finally hit on a routine that worked for us all. The hub's work schedule was humane again. Life had achieved a great ho-humness. Sure, we were planning to move by the end of the summer, but there was no real hurry and no solid job offers. Each day blended into the next, so seamlessly that I wondered when life would be interesting again.

I should have known better.

July went down as the second strangest July I've ever experienced. Which isn't to say all the news was bad, just that all the events and non-events were jumbled together in a blender set on frappe. If I were more of a visionary, I would have sold tickets to the ride. Again, I have missed out on my opportunity to make millions.

By the end of the month, things had calmed down. Life, as it so frequently does, started to bleed back into gray. We welcomed the return of routine, gave it a big bear hug and poured it a beer. And just when we'd gotten used to having it around the house again, routine pulled out its latest gag, then ran like hell.

During a rare afternoon nap, the phone rang; it was the hubby.

A short preface: the hub had applied for a job at a SUNY school in eastern New York. He loved the place and the people he met. He was as blue as I'd ever seen him when they went with another candidate. But he's a real stiff-upper-lipper and we were confident something else would come along. Only nothing did. So we settled in for a longer Knoxville haul. I agreed to be on Maddy's preschool's board of directors and assured everyone that we wouldn't be going anywhere until summer 2004. I told the same to the people who pay me. Ditto friends and family. We started to rediscover what was wonderful about this town -- and started pondering staying for more than another year.

(continued at right)

Flash to the phone call.

Turns out that the SUNY school's first choice broke his hip, of all things, and wouldn't be coming. Since the husband was choice number two, they would love it if he'd accept the job. So he called me. By the time I fully woke up, our conversation was over. Sometimes life gives you a big fat second chance that would be stupid to not take.

There's a catch, of course. The job starts September 1 and we need to be there by August 29. We committed to it on the next to last day of fucking July. For those not great at math, that's less than 35 days to sell a house (that, incidentally, isn't finished being renovated), buy a new one, pack up all of our crap (which includes three cats and a toddler), and tie up the many loose ends (which includes telling people we'd promised we weren't moving that we are). It has been interesting.

Horrifying and exciting as well, but undeniably interesting. To be honest, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the whole thing. By this time next month, I will live somewhere else. This wonderful little house that we've invested time and sweat and countless dollars in will belong to someone else, and there will be a new house to make ours. I will be living someplace that has real seasons. By Halloween, the air will be crisp and cold and, like my mother, I'll make Maddy wear a jacket over her costume. I'll be able to teach Maddy how to make snow angels and how quiet the world gets after a good snowfall. And summer won't last for five months. It will be more like home.

I didn't expect to already miss Knoxville, though. There's already a distance between me and my wonderful friends -- a hairline crack that gets wider the more I throw myself into the logistics of moving and packing and separating. I have never been good at moving. I hate the disruption and the continual chaos makes me surly. In all earnestness we'll promise to write, to call. With some, it will happen. But it will never be the same.

The baby makes it worse, somehow. It's hard to pull her away from her caregiver and from the kids in her class. One little boy runs up to her each morning and smiles. He seems like he has a little crush on my niblet. They have a big time when they're together -- eating rocks and swapping sippy-cups. And I'm taking her away from this, to a place where she'll have to spend weeks wrapping everyone around her finger again. I know she won't remember any of it -- her Knoxville boy and the center and her teacher -- and I'm crying even as I type this. A tiny part of my heart is breaking and I don't know why.

It's all just a shock. Leaving seemed like it would be a breeze. Knoxville and I have never had an easy relationship. I've often been too brusque, it has always been too passive-aggressive. Yet, here we are. Ninety percent of me is out the door and thrilled by the next adventure. But here we are, with that last ten percent clinging to my legs like a five-year-old at bedtime.

It has been an interesting time, indeed.
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About the Author:
Adrienne Martini has been a theatre technician, apprentice massage therapist, bookstore bookkeeper, and a pizza joint waitress. Eventually, someone started paying her for her words and an editorial mercenary was born. She has written theatre reviews and features for the Austin Chronicle, blurbs about tofurkey and bottled water for Cooking Light and a piece about knitting summer camp for Interweave Knits. During the day, she fields freelance gigs and is gainfully employed as an editor at Metro Pulse, Knoxville, Tennessee's weekly voice. At all hours, she is mom to Maddy, who will be a big one- year- old in June, and wife to Scott, who declines the mention of his age. Email Adrienne at: shaken@austinmama.com

 

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