I made the decision to move back to Texas in late July when the plumbing went out at the house in Cerritos. After a week of screwing around, the Chinese uncles of our housemate Emperor Ming, finally decided to call in a plumber to uncover the leak which was seeping through the slab under my bathroom. After an hour the plumber identified the leak as originating in the slab under the bathroom and then left in an exasperated huff, “Hell they just cashed in on our coupon. They didn’t even ask for an estimate.”
The next morning two Mexican day laborers showed up with a rented jack hammer and I moved out into a motel room. This went on for a week as they discovered that the leak wasn’t in the slab under my bathroom or bedroom closet – the exasperated plumber had his revenge by arbitrarily “finding” the leak under my bathroom. After another licensed plumber identified the source of the leak was seventy feet away under the kitchen, the day laborer’s filled up the hole in my closet and bathroom, but neglected to move my clothes and other belongings back into the closet. Without permits the unlicensed day labor kludged out of code repairs with by-passes of fresh copper pipe mounted to the external walls around the side and back of the house. It would only be a matter of months before the building inspectors from the city of Cerritos showed up to order that it all be ripped out and redone. This proved to be the straw that broke my camel’s back and I gave Emperor Ming my notice - effective September 1st.
For over a year I’ve been giving serious consideration to moving back to Central Texas to take care of my brother Bill who struggles with the progressive dementia. Between both of us, our Social Security benefits exceed $35K per year and that’s more than enough to sustain two old geezers on an acre with a couple of trailer houses. If I choose to jump through the VA paperwork hoops there’s another $1700 a month available for resident caregiver funding. That puts our combined cash flow up around $50K per year. As repulsive as living in Texas might be, it makes economic sense and so my younger brother and I began planning for the move.
Of course I procrastinated until September was upon me and I gave a check to Emperor Ming for an extra week and then began the excruciating task of throwing away three quarters of my life. Using the criteria that if it had been untouched for over six months it wasn’t going with me, I began the painful purge. Notebooks, journals, research, print outs of what I had on my laptop. It all went into the trash along with trophies, awards and a couple hundred pounds of stuff that would not fit into the car.
I found a 20 year old sketch that I had drawn of David, my step-son’s biological father, while he was on a gurney in the recovery room after surgery in San Francisco, so I sent it to him in care of his bar in Petaluma. I gave away a two year old laser printer to my housemate Rudy and still hadn’t figured out how to fit all this crap into the car, so on Friday, September 2nd I approached Emperor Ming with another check for another week’s rent.
Ming told me it was too late because he had a new tenant coming in on Saturday afternoon with a check. The next morning I packed my clothes and books into the car and by 1:30pm I was on my way east on Interstate 10 headed out to Arizona. It was over an hour before I got out of Los Angeles County and late in the day when I checked into a motel in Phoenix, Arizona. Thus was the first day of my journey back to Texas.
Except for attributed photos and text, all content is copyrighted © 2016 JKM (an apparently ineffectual boilerplate joke?)