The Buddhist In Nebraska is now officially the Buddhist [from] Nebraska. Yup. That's right. Hello, L.A.
I have now settled in to my new digs in El Monte, California, part of the cornucopia of suburbs surrounding Los Angeles. Two trips to Ikea, one to Wal-Mart, a tiring but fun morning at the Long Beach Flea Market, and $1000 later and my room is looking like a room - complete with bed, desk, and all-important bookshelves. I am living three miles from University of the West in a nice house with an easy going guy named Harry, who has very graciously given me the master bed/bath, and seems happy to tolerate my finicky cat, not to mention my folks who are staying with us until Tuesday. That's about two days too long, as it turns out, considering I'm already practically completely unpacked and settled in. The folks are currently in the living room having commandeered Harry's fabulous giant television. So, I'm taking a moment to jot a note to explain my recent absence from the buddhablogosphere.
I think I will like it here. The house, not much to look at from the outside, has been entirely remodeled inside. My room is a rather lovely shade of powder blue with a slightly darker blue in the also newly remodeled attached bath and dressing room/closet. It opens onto a little entry on the side of the house that also connects to Harry's room/bath and a narrow galley kitchen with all new everything, including a giant stainless steel fridge (but no dishwasher, alas!). The living room is a cheerful mustard/gold/yellow with handsome reddish wood floors.
Harry is my age, fit, works at a bank, likes beer, kids, and tossing the ball in the backyard with his buddies. The house shares the lot with two others. The middle one is home to Tiffany and Peter and their four kids (three boys and a little girl all under ten) and an older lady whose name I've not caught, but we've been calling Mama-san. Harry tells me a couple with two older children live in the front house. Harry and I are in the back house, and every other week his two year old son, Nate, will be here as well. That will be ... interesting. There are also two grapefruit and a kumquat tree in the backyard and a few branches full of avocados from the neighbor's tree.
The neighborhood is busy and full of life, kids especially, as the neighbors on the north also have a herd. It is a driving area, with wide streets and plenty of traffic on nearby Garvey Street, but also plenty of people on foot or pedal power. People seem to spend more time outdoors here and I can see why. The weather has been sunny and warm, but not hot, low humidity, no bugs, with cool, breezy evenings and mornings. We've barely used the air conditioner and only when we were sweaty from moving boxes and assembling ingenious Swedish furniture. The house doesn't even have heat, just a couple of space heaters tucked in a corner of the back entry. The laundry machines are outside in the carport with Harry's weight bench.
I had only intended to buy a mattress and bookshelf, but my parents decided lending me the money for a proper bed frame would be cheaper than staying in the hotel another four nights just because their knees are too creaky to get up off the floor in the morning. And while we were there, we might as well get the desk that goes with the bookshelf. So my room is rather more furnished than I had anticipated. It's all dark and sleek and very modern, much different from the antique-eclectic-found furnishing vibe I had going on in Lincoln. My old map chest makes an interesting counterpoint. Today at the flea market we found a bright red metal cabinet for $50 (we were hunting for a dresser) for my bath/dressing room/closet. (Mom also found a dozen other knickknacks which will be making the long flight back to Nebraska.) In my future I see some hanging shelves for the last of my books, a couple of rugs, and fewer suitcases, but already this feels very much like home.
I'm holding nothing back. I thought briefly about leaving most of my things boxed, in case I wanted to hedge my bets, but in the end I've unpacked all but six (perhaps the original six?). The others are folded and slid under my new queen bed. That's another change - that bed. I insisted on a queen. It's a way of making room in my life for someone other than myself. Who that someone is, I've yet to discover, but I'm determined to make an effort.
Tomorrow morning I go up to the University for advising and registration. Then my Dad wants to look at Honda motorcycle dealerships just for fun. In the afternoon, we're going to visit Hsi Lai Temple. Then, bright and early Tuesday morning, by which I mean when it's still dark, my parents will head back to Nebraska, taking the lovely Jeep Grand Cherokee rental with them. And I'll be on my own, cat, old blue bicycle, new Ikea furniture, and all.