The Last Cha Cha

There are three reasons why you may not see a blog post from me at any given time:

  1. I don’t have anything to say
  2. I don’t have access to the Internet
  3. I’m too busy to sit down and share my thoughts with my reading public

The best dance everOn a rare day, all three reasons may fall together. Over the next couple of days, I’ll be traveling and won’t have access to the Internet. The travel is related to my current unemployed situation, so I certainly hope to come back with some good news. And much though I appreciate all the encouragement I have received from people for my stepped-up search engine consulting, I just wasn’t prepared to go full-time.

I’ll keep doing whatever I have to do to bring in an income, but I’d rather have a job for now than be an entrepreneur. I suppose that is a good reason for preparing oneself for the worst of circumstances. Not that being without a job is the worst of circumstances for me. But I’m usually ready for the transition (or think I am) when it comes. This time around, it was so unexpected I was just glad to have a part-time consultancy already going.

But as I was doing a little research on what may become my new home earlier today, it occurred to me that I often move right before or during the holiday season. Three of the last four months I’ve moved were October, November, and December. The December move was not of my choosing. The man who owned the complex where I lived sold the property and gave all the residents 6 weeks to vacate (state law requires only a 30-day notice, so he was actually being generous). By the time the announcemnt came, maybe half the residents (who suspected something was up) had already moved. Out of stubborness, and because I liked where I was living, I waited until the last day to move out. I think I was the last resident to leave. A few days later, the buildings were gone, bull-dozed.

What is most sad about that event is that the people who worked at that community had to stay and watch everyone go. I don’t know if they had jobs lined up or not. They certainly had a fair amount of warning, but the Houston rental market has been devastated by the housing boom. Even this year, in the wake of Katrina and Rita, where thousands of families have moved in to fill some vacancies, and with the housing boom now officially over in most parts of the country, I see rental communities being bulldozed. New construction is not focused on rental housing.

Whole neighborhoods are vanishing in the space of a few days. New neighborhoods continue to rise on the outskirts of the city. The highways in Houston are becoming more jam-packed than ever before as people move farther and farther out, extending their commutes. Houston’s ongoing highway projects, where they build a little extension here and there to buy time for building larger extensions and widenings, cannot really keep up. However, for the first time since I moved to Houston in 2001, sometime this summer I was finally able to drive around the northwest corner of I-610 without having to stop and wait for traffic to decongest.

There are some sections of road that have been dug up and rebuilt at least 3 times since I came to Houston in June 2001, right after Tropical Storm Alison flooded the city. I’ll never understand why Houston has to rebuild the same section of road over and over again. This year I watched them rebuild the crossunder intersection of Richmond and I-610 4 times in the space of 3 months. The safety signs shifted from left to right, lane to lane, twice as they dug up road and put new road back down.

Houston never changes, but it is ever-changing. And as the fourth largest city in the United States its most common complainnt is that it is often ignored by multi-city programming in favor of Dallas-Fort Worth. Conventions, special movie extravaganzas, special media tours all bypass Houston like it was some backwater not worth spending money on. The nation only sat up and took notice of us when hurricanes disrupted the flow of goods and gasoline to the rest of the country.

I say “us” after having lived here only a few years — and that with a brief interlude where I returned to Florida. Now I am contemplating a move cross-country to a state I have only visited once, to a lattitude I have often sworn I would never live at again, to a region where I hardly know anyone.

And if I make the move, I’ll be going by myself. That girlfriend I have so happily hinted and finally blogged just a little about will be staying in Texas. She is Miss Cute Reluctant in so many ways, not because she won’t go with me (we haven’t seriously considered the idea). But because of things I suppose are too private to share. Life is like that. You find someone you want to be with and the floodwaters of change sweep you apart.

If I don’t get this job (she is convinced I will), then I’ll most likely head back to Florida and see what I can do with the Internet on my own. People want me to write more but there are bills to pay. Writing takes time, and there is no guarantee the next book will sell well.

I’ll miss the dancing, little though I have danced since my surgery. I’ve only just started going back to the advanced Salsa classes. And my stamina has been so low that yesterday was the first day I was able to get all the way through a class without collapsing or nearly collapsing.

I’ll miss the friends I have made in Houston. I’ll miss the dinner parties, the group outings, the quiet afternoons and evenings spent with good friends. I’ll miss dropping in on Maggie and telling her my woes and joys. She is a new grandma now, anyway, and she’s excited about having a baby in the family to help take care of. The last time we danced a Cha Cha (a few weeks ago), as we were walking off the floor, she said, “Michael, that was really good! I think that was the best Cha Cha we ever danced.”

It was good. And whatever happens, wherever I go, I’m glad the last Cha Cha was the best.

That’s the way it should end, if it must end at all.