How our quest came about…

May 24th, 2010 1 Comment »

Great Blue Herons are majestic water birds that soar above creeks, bayous, suburbs, highways, and vast undisturbed swaths of wetlands. Upon landing they glide with an innate sense of purpose and set down smartly as if that perfect spot were always known to them.  Humans have not such grace or poise with their landings. The lucky few manage to land feet first. The rest of us plant faces or land with great big thuds, fracturing bones and bruising our bodies. It’s nature’s joke. We have one of the most highly developed brains on the planet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we know how to use them. I want to learn to land like the Great Blue Heron, gently and feet first.

We came to Austin after Hurricane Katrina because we had to go somewhere and it was suggested I head to the Texas capital where my youngest brother and his family resided. (Visit my Hurricane Katrina Blog.) There was nothing left of what used to be and the daily ritual of detours because few bridges were still intact, coupled with a sea of slabs where houses used to be was just too much. I needed work and hoped I could find it in Austin and we needed to start over. It was a rather simple decision. When you are in refugee mode, you move on as best you can, hoping soon the fog will clear and you can see the why of what happened to you. It’s been almost 5 years and the why still eludes me. It was a natural disaster so I can’t take it too personally. There are thousands of people like me who walked away and had to start over. I can’t believe I moved somewhere without a job first and I can’t believe I am considering it again only for very different reasons.

Sometimes an insignificant moment can precipitate the most amazing transformation. It was the quiet of the morning, driving to school and mulling over jobs I had applied for in several states when my nine-year old daughter said, “It seems strange to leave a place that you never even called home.” I told her that I liked Austin, but it never really felt like home. She nodded. “It doesn’t feel like it to me either, mommy.”

We had discussed this once before. Austin didn’t feel like home. It has great people, delicious food, live music, over a million Mexican free-tail bats, and stimulating culture and if you were a big city person, then Austin, Texas would be it for you. I am not a big city person. I need more land and less suburbia. I like towns that I can drive out of in 20 minutes. I can drive for an hour and still be in Austin. For 18 months I have been looking for jobs, mostly federal in other states and though I make the first cut, no one ever calls me for an interview. The economy is tight right now and there are a lot of displaced workers waiting to slide into those spots.

It was during this morning ride to work that I realized I needed to feel home, sense it in a deep meaningful way and settle on a place where my heart could melt into the land and never desire to escape. The first part of this journey begins with a quest for a more permanent nest. I am sure all Great Blue Herons would approve.