The Sun Sets on Kinney

The sun set on my snow day as I napped in my old, familiar chair with my dachshund nestled on my lap.  I woke before opening my eyes, wrapping awareness around the moment and holding it still and quiet as long as I could.  When I finally slid my eyes open, so slowly, I found a wisp of cloud winking at me through the living room window, filtered by the frothy curtain I never close all the way.  My roommate was in the next room, and I knew that he was reading or writing somewhere in the gentle silence.  The whole house felt soft and warm, cradling us against the chill of the day outside and the waning sunlight.  Tomorrow we’d go back to work, to noise, to clutter.  But on this unexpected day of indulgent freedom, we hibernated; we gathered; we savored the irresponsibility in our quirky old-Austin home.

I began the day with my boyfriend.

The unusual opportunity to sleep in extended into hot, sweet coffee, spoons scraping against cereal bowls, and the sound of his fingers tapping a laptop keyboard.  I steeled myself against the mild cold in his house, welcoming Marley’s hot-stone body, and opened my book.  Eventually I left him to his work, returning to my roommate back at home, enacting my upcoming move in reverse.

Jeff and I made popcorn and watched an afternoon movie – a story-within-a-story – about a struggling writer.  As the narratives piled up on each other, we both avoided addressing the obvious irony.  Instead, we buried ourselves in butter, salt, and crunch.  The day wound down gently, cautiously, kindly.


The last time I transitioned from roommate to romance, Naz and I drank mimosas on moving day.  We toasted our friendship over breakfast tacos.

But I was clueless.  I was blind.

I didn’t really savor our last months together, and I never mourned the end.  I was on cruise-control, riding the rush of wedding plans and homebuying.  I was innocent, confident, ignorant.  Life was happening, and I wasn’t watching it.  I was devoured by it.  I wasn’t paying close enough attention.  Naïve to the realities ahead, I forged on, oblivious to the needs my best friend had been meeting for me all that time.

I was unprepared for the jolt of loneliness.  Of having my best friend yanked away from me like a twin at childbirth.  I was unaware of the role she’d been playing in my life, and suddenly it was too late to go back.

I don’t intent to make the same mistake again.


I watch the light change in this funny makeshift living room, resisting the urge to turn on the lamp over my shoulder.  I will enjoy these last minutes, hours, days.  I’ll make note of the sunsets; of Jeff’s morning coffee; of every crack in the sidewalk.

I know how many steps it takes to get to the tiny firehouse down the street.  I’m vaguely aware of the water stain on the ceiling of my room, only slightly concealed by Mexican tissue-paper flowers.  I’ve grown used to the hum of the train, the smell of the coffee at Austin Java, the creak of Jeff opening his bedroom door early in the morning.  Every night I brave the darkness of the backyard as it stretches far toward the creek bed, and I’m careful on our steep side-doorstep.

I often come home to garlic and onion sizzling in a pan, and I can read the meal ahead by the ingredients laid out on the counter.  Will it be Jeff’s white bean dip with crostini, or his ragu?  Will he be roasting vegetables or cooking up a creamy mushroom risotto?

This house has a strong pull, and with today’s warmth inside it’s stronger still.

I know how long I can shower before running out of hot water, and the best routes to Zilker and Barton Springs.  I know the nearest coffee shops, and which ones offer seasonal lattes.  I know when the Chuy’s happy hour ends, and when to avoid going for a run if I don’t want the sun directly in my eyes.  I know when it gets too cold for Jeff to go running, and I know when he’s just too tired to begin with.

I’m taking it all in, tucking away these memories, putting them in my pocket for later.  I will come back to them like a worry stone.

This time, this place, will be locked up safe.  It can’t be my safety net on this new adventure, and no adventure comes without risk.  I will set this experience aside, let it be, love it now.  I will squeeze in the affection for these moments, even as they pass quickly , slipping through my fingers like waves over rocks.

I will not repeat old mistakes.  There are too many new errors to make, and this place, this time, this friendship won’t be a part of them.  I’m taking off the cables, putting down the parasol, setting aside the training wheels.  I’m scared, but it’s time to get on the ride and throw my hands in the air.