i'm a little used to blowing into a town and finding a place to live and making a temporary life. but this time it is different as there is all my art in that truck outside the econo lodge room we are in. the truck is due tomorrow at 3 and we dont have a place to live. the $100 day late fee for the return appears inevitable. we can handle that i guess, we have to eh?
today was a whirlwind. we only looked at three houses yesterday and one commercial unit in town and we were going to go for one of the homes (which was out of town). it was a 3 bedroom with a garage (a rarity it seems). no fridge. no washer or dryer. we'd be responsible for a huge ass yard but basically be out away from people and free to make noise. something seemed right something didn't but we realized we had no choice as the only other house we've seen was nastier and no place for my tools let alone storing stuff.
this being texas 'n all, we were presented with a HUGEOID lease that when we went over it i realized right off i didn't want to go through with it. before going to the real estate place and signing all this stuff we were on board for buying a used fridge/washer/dryer. apparently there is only ONE place that sells used ones and we went there. i was a bit shocked. i'm no priss and i've lived in big cities where i've happily gone to some gritty industrial building to buy used appliances and they were tip top, i just wasn't expecting them to be quite as in rough shape so i looked online, in the phone book...turns out there aren't any other used appliances dealers ANYWHERE unless we go to houston. found in the paper an ad for washers and there was a guy out of town who had washers under a big tent in his yard in front of his trailer. a nice old man who just buys broken machines and fixes them. we bought a washing machine for $150 (decided to just hang clothes up and not buy a dryer) and he offered to deliver it for free as he was going into town the next day. great! we had a washing machine before we even had the house. awkward but we assumed the best. when we asked the old guy where to buy a fridge he said best buy a new one, there aint no place to get one and they dont last here. buying a used one we'd soon be throwing good money after bad. they aint no good. (our washing machine he said would 'run like silk')
so off to the real estate place. in person we had discussed the possibility of breaking the lease if we needed to move. he said he had to have a year lease but we could break it and he would just take the deposit instead of make us pay any months left. fair enough. so we were surprised when we sat down to this fat lease to find that we could only move outside of huntsville without the penalty of paying for all remaining months left. if we moved to huntsville we'd have to pay. and the property was about 1.3 acres, all green grass that we were now told we would have to water by hand or buy our own sprinkler system and maintain. i guess its normal, i've done it at houses i've lived in before but all i saw were tod's dollars being pissed away. especially since we knew when the students move out in june we want to see if we can find a house here in the city (i want to call it a town as it feels more like a town). basically we dont have enough money to live there for a year, forget about the air conditioning costs which will be BIG in summer. driving back and forth with just one car and two different schedules was another issue. there might not be much to DO here as far as entertaining myself with walking and cool places, but i'd rather live here and at least walk to the library and store. oh yeah, and now we have to go get our washing machine money back, how awful but the guy had no problem with it and refused tod's offer for at least 10% restocking fee. there ARE good people out here i gotta say.
so at the real estate place we took a break in the parking lot and decided to bail on this lease. we discussed it and i 'manned up' and decided i'd put my stuff in storage if i have to and not make art and live in a small apartment and just do whatever it takes to make it here. we decided to just insist on a 6 or 7 month lease or else walk. we doubted he would take it. thats how we left it at the office but once in my car realized no matter what we weren't gonna take it. its survival here, money has to be doled out with the utmost care and its time to change the plan somewhat.
i have to say, if it weren't for dan i would have pulled tod by the hair and left by now. we met dan this morning and followed him around to the different job sites and houses he has built. he took us to the local scrap yard where a new project is in the makings that i am being invited to work on. seems the scrap place needs a new building/office and they want him to make it. it is right on the main highway and i might actually get to create the wall in front of this place. this will probably get started in mid november or december. i still dont really understand whats going on but we had a good talk about what we wanted to get out of this and what he wanted us to do. the project they are working on now is actually an artist live/work residency. in the near future there is a lot that three more homes can be built on, two of which I believe are reserved for people to buy/build on. in case you haven't checked the phoenix commotion site out (see sidebar) from what i understand the majority of these homes are for low income single mothers to have a chance to buy the land/house if they have good credit, a job and go through some financial counseling. they then get to build it themselves with the help/mentoring of dan and others. artists and other low income people can also have a chance to build/buy the homes which are all a minimal size allowed by the city, i think something like 240 sq feet inside not including a large porch which is wired and piped, ready to be made into another bedroom after the owner has moved in and lived there awhile(?). i know its confusing, i'm still confused but there are reasons for all of this. its about not being wasteful with space and materials. its about responsibility. a whole slew of things. we visited one house where the porch was made into the master bedroom/bathroom which allowed for the two children to have the upstairs bedrooms/bathroom and the mom her own space. its was cozy and utilitarian. rich and decorative. hard to believe a single mom with no building experience built this with her 16 year old daughter. she has since moved out and it's been sold to another mother with 2 children.
it was good to spend time with dan, meet his crew, drive around and get a clue. he has our lives mapped out if we are ready. all we need to do it try. and of course get some income at some point. right now it feels like we need to just devote ourselves to him for 6 months and see what happens. i'm prepared to live in a tiny place and pay less rent and not make art on my own if it means something new blooms. if i wanted to keep making the same art and doing the same thing i wouldn't have left vermont. it is tricky, the mind wants everything to somehow be as it was. the good things. the easy things. i want the foods i ate. we've been to every grocery store and there is not anything remotely interesting to eat. its deli meat for me from here on out. no more good organic meats and cheeses. creams and treats, they simply aren't available. i can do it, if it means i learn something and do something meaningful. i dont like it but i realize if i wanted all that stuff in vermont more than i wanted my life to change i would have stayed there. dan is doing everything he can to accommodate us and make us feel welcomed. thats enough for us, for now. there are good people here. my biggest hurdle is letting go. stop looking for the types of scrap and things that were in vermont. it doesn't exist here. it feels much more scarce in resources but i have to trust that it will work out. and right now i just need a place to live and store my shit. then i can get to work on whatever it is i'm supposed to be doing.