Lifeguarding

“Oh no.  Oh NO…”

Realization washed over me as I tried the handle and remembered that Brian had been the last one out the door before we left for dinner.  Brian, who was in town from D.C. and didn’t know some of the peculiarities of my new home.

Now it was 2:00am. Rusmir, Brian and I had just returned from the bars downtown. We were happy, tired, and ready for our pajamas. But in my “new” house (which is also my boyfriend’s old house), each door has two locks and each lock has a different key … though only two of the keys actually exist. One of those keys was on my key ring, of course, but it only opened the dead-bolt on the front door. And naturally, being an adult with some sense of safety and responsibility, my friend had turned the latch on the doorknob before pulling it closed behind him.

Because it’s a lock, and that’s what you do with locks. Right?

Not when you live at the HQ.

Bonesaw and I discussed the lock situation many times. At the chiding of many friends, some of whom have been broken into recently, I’d been trying to address the reasoning behind not locking our doors. He argued that he’d never been burglarized;  that there were always so many people around (including anywhere from two to five band members at any given time);  that it was significantly more convenient not to lock them given his communal living style. I argued that things had changed, and that I needed to feel safe when he was on tour.

Up to that point, a spare key was kept in the “birdcage” in the backyard, but no one locked the doors or even held on to a key to begin with. When he gave me a key for Valentine’s Day two years ago, his brother and roommate at the time looked at me earnestly. “Do you think I can have one of those too?” he asked.

But everyone – from fans to friends to neighbors – knew about the spare key anyway. “No one needs a designated key!” Bonesaw maintained. “Everyone knows that there’s always a spare in the birdcage.”

So you see my frustration.

We’d tentatively agreed to change the locks – not only for safety, but for consistency – but we hadn’t yet made the adjustment.

So no.  Being locked out of the house in the dark after last-call on a Saturday night was not the moment when I fell in love with my new home.  Thankfully I was already in love with the man, and the home had felt like it was mine almost immediately after move-in.

***

Rusmir and Brian visited on a balmly, overcast weekend in May. We counted the seventeen years of our friendship during a particularly sweaty, grueling bootcamp on Saturday morning. They were in town from D.C. for the third time, and I was thrilled to share my new home with them.  But I had also just finished venting to my old friends about the locks that afternoon, so the irony was thick when we found ourselves stymied by the HQ Security System.

I like to lifeguard my life. Bonesaw not so much.

In his mind, we were able to get in. “You were inside the house within five minutes!” he countered later when I brought up the locks.  (We popped off a screen and jimmied open a window without too much trouble, so the ultimate goal was indeed achieved.)

I, on the other hand, felt consumed by the time spent circling the house and the implications of being able to break in without challenge or response from the neighbors or the police.

But … while I’m loath to admit it, lifeguarding is no way to live. My new house has two cats and a dog; an outdoor shower that acts as home for two large bullfrogs; new windows and old floors; slanted countertops and glowing sunsets that stream through the picture window in the living room. The layout is a wonderland of sorts, with surprises around every corner, ample seating, and multiple outdoor spaces to sip coffee or a beer. It boasts three murals and art made almost exclusively by friends and fans. There are multiple places to walk for a taco or a burger; it’s bikable to downtown and Barton Springs and multiple parks and running trails; there’s an ice cream man with a bell and a turtle we frequently rescue from the middle of the road and return safely to his pond.  The university across the street reminds me of my own college, with its steeples and old-brick buildings and rolling hills.  We have a peach tree and a garden with basil and rosemary and flowers.  It’s a playground; a meeting spot; a gathering place; a hub of activity and play. My favorite days include bike commutes, backyard yoga sessions with music playing on the outdoor speakers, chats with the neighbor (who might offer me a taste of one of his edible flowers), happy hours in the front yard, and Hulu on the TV while I hold hands with my man.

The house sits in what many call a “transitional” neighborhood populated by old-Austin families and college kids. I’d like to think that our home honors the roots of our city, clinging to the spirit of Austin Weird at the same time that it’s under reconstruction.  Much like me, this house and this neighborhood are eager to become something new. Something, if not better, then revised.

So Brian and Rusmir and I laughed (at least the next day) about being locked out due to a ridiculous set of circumstances and lifestyle decisions. Because that’s what old friends do: they support you and love you through your change; through all of the iterations of YOU.

Bonesaw may never lock the doors. I may never make the bed. But we are both in flux. We are both growing and learning, always. One of our mutual friends suggested that I used another word one day when I fretted about my move-in:  “Not change,” he clarified. “Progress.”

And within days after returning from tour, Bonesaw went to Home Depot and replaced all the locks.


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