I was driving back to Houston from Austin, having had a great time with friends. I got lost, which is per my usual. I was trying to get back on I-35 and on my way, and while I had failed to find the entrance to the highway, I had landed on a street named Driskell. Looking around to plan my next turn, a “CBD” sign for lease on the corner of Driskell and Rainey came into view. Intrigued, I pulled over.
I knew what CBD meant, And I knew this CBD was not an acronym for cannabis. More on that later.
I proceeded to drive the block. I parked in the large empty lot on the corner of Rainey and Driskell. I got out and decided to walk the block, my instincts leading the way.
Something guttural compelled me. It was an old street with bungalow homes. Or that’s how most people would have described what they saw. But I am not most people. My snout on high alert, I eyeballed and smelled everything. I had to. I couldn’t ignore what I saw, and I ‘saw’ Rainey Street. The history was palpable and far from ignorable. I heard the old spirits. I saw the Four Season Residential Tower being built to my left. To my right I saw the freeway, that freeway I would have been long down road from where I was at that moment if I didn’t do things ‘as I do’—literally and then some. And as I stood in that empty lot, I noticed I could see the Austin Downtown skyline.
I went and looked at the blue house on the corner. Addressed 97 Rainey Street, to be exact. She was way overgrown; the sign for lease was barely visible. I walked onto the front porch that was flimsy, splintered plywood. I looked into the old house through her thin windows from the outside and saw the old house with worn pine floors and a light blue front room with a transom and a fireplace. I walked around the short chain-link fence in the backyard that had been exhausted by years of watching out for the house and the generations of families that had lived there, protecting everyone. The small backyard was full of junk, old trash, a tire or two, and a water heater.
I got in my car and called the number on the sign. In my excitement, I wanted in. I wanted more. more now. One ring, then two, but no answer. Defeated, I left a message. Then I headed back on the road out of Austin.
The agent called me back as I passed through the final few towns between me and Houston’s ever-expanding city limits. He was free the next day. Perfect. It was like that–compelling and energizing. I would be there. I was excited. Like I said earlier, I had seen “her” and was going to do this. While I may have had no idea how, I knew I would. I hadn’t even ended the call or heard any of the details of the lease. No matter, for even on that first call, I knew her already. She found me just as much as I had found her. We had found each other.