There are a lot of wonderful things about buying a home. Great things. Fabulous things. There's being able to break walls and not lose your security deposit. More access to Naked Time without fear of knowing that somewhere out there, some rogue landlord has a key to your place and could bust in at any moment. There's getting to tell kids to stay the Hell off your lawn and getting to keep stray Frisbees, baseballs and footballs that make it over your fence.
When I bought this house, I knew one of the big changes for me would be my commute to work. For the last four and a half years I've lived on streets perpendicular to the newspaper, no more than about five minutes away. I could always get home quickly, even during rush hour. I could always zip to work on weekends to pick up something I'd forgotten or drop by and check messages if I wanted to.
Now, getting to and from work takes time. This I expected. I knew it was a commute and it was a factor in my house shopping. The place I finally found was too good to pass up, but any further out and I wouldn't have gone through with the deal.
But there's something else; something I hadn't really thought about.
I can't go home for lunch anymore.
This didn't seem like such a big deal before, but now, as I find myself at around 1 p.m. every day at work tryign to figure out where to go, like Little Boy Lost, I realize I've lost something pretty sweet.
On days I didn't have lunch appointments or things scheduled with friends, I could always slip right down the street, slip a Boston Market meal in the microwave, and watch episodes of The Simpsons, or do the dishes while something quick cooked.
And you should have seen me. I could make a Tostino's pizza like you've never tasted. I could cut up a chicken breast, whip it up with seasonings and be eating chicken fajita tacos in under four minutes.
I got to be so efficient on my little jaunts home that I'd end up with a spare 20 minutes to check my e-mail, run to the post office to mail out Terribly Happy Moichandise, or just bum around the house for a few minutes.
No more. Now I find myself eating meals alone at restuarants, scoping out the best lunch specials so all my mortgage money doesn't go to eating out every day. I find myself staying at my desk longer. Drinking more coffee, especially that first cup that I now make at home for the 20 minute drive to work. I used to wait till I got there to fend for coffee. Now that coffee is in my belly, burning up my veins before I even set foot at work.
It's a lifestyle change. I'm trying to adjust.
This week, I took a real, honest-to-goodness sack lunch to work. Never mind that the sack was actuall a plastic H.E.B. bag. It had a turkey sandwich on Texas Toast, cheese, sweet pickles, mayo, lettuce. And a baggie of that horrible Chee-Tos, Doritos, Rold Gold, Sun Chips combination snack they've just come out with it. Every one of those is a good thing, but together, they are a confounding mess of salty, salty, cheesy, pretzel that I simply can't abide. But I ate it all. There was also a cup of yogurt and some candies that I could share with friends. And a spoon. Have to take a spoon.
All of a sudden, I'm eight years old. I find a place in the work fridge for my bag, mortified that someone might steal my tasty sandwich, but too afraid to label my bag with my name. How geek would that be?
I offer up some of my candies to bag some goodwill among my peers. I eat every drop of the yogurt because home is so far away and the yogurt is comfort lining for my stomach.
When I come home at the end of the day, spoon in my work bag, coffee thermos laid on the countertop, it feels like I've been gone for days. I can't understand how people can commute, I mean really commute to work an hour or more away. It makes me feel so rootless to know that I can't get home at any moment without time and effort.
It's comfort food of the purest sort.
Even the Glad sandwich bag smells a little bit like my new home.
New Smallville recap is up for the "Jitters" episode, the last one before the holidays. I think it turned out mighty fine, if I do say so myself. Go check it out. I'm pleased to note that Entertainment Weekly slathered all manner of praise on the show in its latest "Best of 2001" issue. The show's catching on like a scary super virus.
Also, I'm attempting to write my first movie review. (Or at least my first one since I worked as a film critic in college). I'll let you know how it turns out Friday.
Until then, be good. Don't get too stressed out by the holidays.
"Hey. Kid. Wanna get high?"