Thursday, July 5, 2007

Deja Vu Uv Ajed

Wow. I still can't believe I'm back here. Settling back into life in New Mexico has been all about coming to terms with the mix of the old with the new.

The apartment is new... and big... and very much to my liking. I'm really happy with how everything came together -- I spent the morning of the Fourth of July putting the larger items in their proper places, and throwing the rest of it into closets and the second bedroom/office. 

(Most of that has been sorted out today.) My old furniture looks better here, than it did cramped into my one-bedroom pad in Dallas.

The old is far more prevalent. Already, I've been to my old Wal-Mart... my old Albertson's grocery store... my old Starbucks. Tomorrow, I plan to get the Mazda washed at my old car wash, and meet some friends at my old Gardunos. All are places I used to visit regularly when I lived nearby, and in the North Valley. Driving through Corrales feels exactly the same as it used to, three years ago. So does driving down Montano.

There are even more buildings and businesses around here than when I lived at Cottonwood Ranch in 2000... and I thought there were a lot then. But it was very refreshing to drive down Coors Road at 8:45 am Monday morning -- still in the heart of rush hour in Dallas -- and marvel at the almost complete lack of traffic on the busy corridor. Albuquerque is a sleepy town, even in the mid-morning hours, compared to the metroplex.

I'll admit, there have been many things to make me feel right at "home" here, again. Watching the fireworks show at Balloon Fiesta Park from my balcony last night, with my friend Jen, was cool. Seeing a hummingbird use my feeder Wednesday morning -- it was one of the first things I set up after I moved, I really missed seeing hummingbirds in Dallas -- also gave me a heartened feeling. Ditto seeing a roadrunner scurry across the road as I drove to pick up my DVR player from Comcast on Monday.

Okay Albuquerque, you have one last chance. I've ran from you twice before -- the second time was much more well-reasoned than the first -- and I've come back to you every time... each time, somewhat against my will. But I swear, this time I'll try to appreciate you more than I have before.

I will admit, you've given me a good first week back.


The trip here wasn't as fraught with drama as it could have been, I guess. But it had it's share of angst, something that was almost totally lacking from my experience moving out to Dallas three years ago.

Loading up the truck couldn't have gone more smoothly. Lee showed up with the truck right on time; Shoe followed a short time after, followed by Quinn and then her hubby Monk. We had the truck completely loaded up in just over an hour, and managed to just avoid the rain. "OK, one-third of the move is complete," I told myself with relief Friday night, as I followed Lee in the truck back to his house, where I was staying overnight. The plan called for us to head westward first thing Saturday morning.

And then I noticed Lee had the hazards flashing on the truck... and that he was driving along a bit slower than normal. I called his cell number... and, essentially, told him "Don't f*** with me, stop acting like there's something wrong with the truck."

He wasn't acting. Somewhere along 121 towards McKinney, the truck dropped fourth gear. It wouldn't upshift, no matter what Lee tried, and as a result it couldn't go much over 50 mph.

So, instead of heading out Saturday morning, we slept in a bit and then tackled the problem of trying to convince a mechanic to come out and take a look at things. One agreed to, but he was out in Fort Worth and didn't think he could get out to McKinney -- on the opposite extreme side of DFW -- until mid-afternoon. Which left Lee and I to attempt to diagnose the problem.

Despite all the symptoms indicating the problem was a air leak coming from around the "boots" that connected the engine's turbocharger to its intake system, Lee remained convinced the problem was with the transmission. We had checked the fluid last night, and it had shown low. But there were no other signs of tranny trouble; the truck shifted normally until hitting the wall in 4th, and there was no smell of hot or burning tranny fluid.

Still, with a hard deadline of meeting the movers in ABQ (who had already graciously agreed to move off my unloading appointment, from Sunday morning to late afternoon) we weren't going to leave any stones unturned. So off we went to the auto parts store, to find transmission fluid.
Which worked. After an hour of testing the truck by driving around McKinney, Lee pronounced it fit for the open road.

After debating whether to head out right then and there -- by now, it was pushing 4 pm -- or waiting until Sunday morning, we opted for the latter. That gave all of us -- me, Lee, Diana, and the kids -- one more night together in Dallas. Diana made a great dinner, we all played "Guitar Hero" on Playstation II (I now have a newfound respect for guitar players) and I screened the awesome skating video Monk and I had spent the past 17 months recording (seriously... the vid kicks so much ass, it could have its own summer blockbuster.) All in all, it was a really nice, last night in Texas, with my "second family."

The next morning at 5 am, we were on the road. Lee's stepdaughter Aarynd rode with him in the truck, and the other three kids piled in the Mazda with me (they were on their way back to ABQ to spend some time with their dad.) Despite driving more or less straight through from Dallas to Amarillo, we did not meet up with Lee until west of AMA.

Though we were delayed 45 minutes due to a traffic jam on I-40 -- caused by a semi that caught fire and essentially melted east of Tucumcari -- we were still making pretty good time. But it was going to be tight... I had told the movers to meet us at the apartment at 5:30. It was 2 pm by the time we were free of the traffic.

Somehow -- and I'm still not sure how this happened -- everyone met up in schedule. After transferring the youngest to my car in Moriarty, I dropped the kids off at their dad's in southeast Albuquerque, as Lee headed to the apartment. He beat me to the apartment by three minutes, and the movers arrived within five minutes of that. My friend Jim met us as the movers were unloading their equipment... and 90 minutes later, everything was unloaded, hauled up the stairs, and placed wherever it would fit in my apartment.

Hard to believe that was only five days ago.

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