Time I’ll never take back (one)
4 min read

Time I’ll never take back (one)

Time I’ll never take back (one)
A huge bedroom in New Orleans

We said goodbye to our house in The Woodlands in the middle of May. I will spare all the logistics details, but we got our house ready to sell.

I loved that house. How can you not love the place pregnant with memories of your tiny children toddling around and climbing on you? It has these windows along the front where, as I would back my car out of the driveway on my way to work in the morning (when I still did that), my oldest delighted me with a “Bye-bye Dada dance” hundreds of times. It was a routine where she would shake and twist around and say BYEEE as loud as she could repeatedly, and we would call-and-response until I was out of sight. And, as those things go for parents, I don’t know when that last dance was, but I miss it acutely.

The final two years there were so concentrated. Our little family became cloistered in early 2020. We shed friends and lost communities. Sara and I watched the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We had a pandemic baby (those late 2019 babies count, too). I, a working dad with an office job, got to spend so much time at home with my kids that would have been unheard of any other time.

The house looked like this right before we listed it.

The house looked like this right before we listed it. It had the most fantastic backyard with mature trees. We didn’t have to move, but this feeling compelled us. A shorthand way to say it, though it’s not entirely about space or size: We outgrew it. We knew it was time to move on and hoped that our memories would persist even when the house that contained them would no longer hold us and, by extension, our remembering.

So, why this trip?

I took a remote job with Trust & Will in January 2022, which was a primary enabling factor. I could work nearly anywhere. We planned to sell our house in the early summer, travel, and buy a new house several months later. It was an open adventure! The rhetorical questions of “When else would we get to do this?” and “Why would we not do this if nothing is stopping us?” were our guiding lights.

Sara planned out the Airbnb stays meticulously, but that last part of finding a new permanent residence was an open question of when, where, and—for a time—if.

I should caveat all that I write after this about the trip. I am re-remembering the details, which is to say my source material comprises photos, videos, and figments of the most saturated moments of travel. I did not contemporaneously digest anything.

San Antonio, Houston, Nacogdoches, New Orleans, and Orange Beach, Alabama

Link to map

San Antonio was the start of the open road for us. It challenged us immediately.

We brought our two cats, but we discovered they got car sick in their carriers. We also struggled to keep them inside, which you do not want to worry about in unfamiliar places.

The San Antonio house was cute and in a unique location close to the urban core, yet it was quiet. The owners loved their little place; our kids broke and dirtied many things. Picture an assortment of inexpensive tchotchkes and furnishings, like Hobby Lobby terrariums that kids break effortlessly and microfiber couches intersecting with slime (slime was a bad idea, we know).

When the owners’ feelings of preciousness intersected with our family’s regular mode of living, you can imagine that no one was happy. We were anxious about a bad review so early in the trip jeopardizing later stays booked months in advance. So, we paid (apologetically and without protest) the substantial damage fee the owners requested. We got an oddly neutral review.

That’s enough about where we stayed in San Antonio. What I loved about San Antonio was the coffee shop I walked to for daily work. We spent time with a college friend and her family by the pool. My mother-in-law shared a meal with us. We swam in the Guadalupe River, one of my favorite places in Texas.

We looped back briefly through the Houston area, and the kids got to play with their Papi and Gigi. Then we were in Nacogdoches for a week, where our hosts were so sweet and the Internet was terrible.

Following another couple nights at a hotel that became home for us in The Woodlands when we moved out of our house, we set out for New Orleans.

New Orleans was Anabelle’s favorite spot of the trip. It was mid-June at this point, and it was oppressively hot. Our pad was a corporate short-term rental on Airbnb. It was huge with a vast living area and three bedrooms with a city loft feel. The front desk clerk was somewhere else in the world but appeared by video on an iPad. The elevators were some of the slowest I’ve ever experienced, but they could take you to a rooftop pool with fantastic city views. Parking was a hassle, and we got one of two parking tickets from the trip there, but coffee was easily walkable.

We had a late meal at Turkey and the Wolf that we sweated for (Anabelle said it was the Best Burger EVER) and beignets at Café Du Monde. I also took a meeting in Jackson Square, which is a weird spot to open your laptop, but I made it work.

Then, we went to our first beach of the trip at Orange Beach, Alabama. On a per-night basis, it was our most expensive stay (and it happened to be a very subpar chain hotel). But, it was on the beach. To see our kids at ease in the water grounded the weight of this trip. That leads me to a trip counter: pools and bodies of water that we dipped toes in.

The water calmed and sustained us everywhere we went.

Pools: four (The Woodlands, San Antonio, New Orleans, Orange Beach)
Rivers: one (Guadalupe)
Beach: one (Orange Beach)