Notes from the Second Floor

Opening Comments by Dick Lynch

Hello from Maryland! The last six months have brought about some changes, as you can see from our new address. Last issue, I wrote about my loss of employment, and not knowing where we'd be moving. Well, soon after Mimosa 5 was finished at the end of August, I got a phone call from the United States Department of Energy, where I had interviewed a couple of weeks earlier, and they offered me a position at their headquarters just north of Washington, DC. However, they wanted me to report for work in four weeks, before the end of September. Since we were getting ready to leave for New Orleans and NOLAcon, that left only about two-and-a-half weeks to pack, close out all our worldly affairs in Tennessee, get the house ready for sale, locate temporary quarters in Maryland, and head north. We did manage it all, somehow. We've now become homeowners again, and things are finally settling down to the point where we can think of other things besides day-to-day living. It's been a hectic half year, and that week before Worldcon when I was literally waiting on the edge of my chair for the phone to ring now seems almost a lifetime ago.

In New Orleans, I remember telling several people that the idea of leaving Tennessee, after having lived there for 15 years, seemed surreal -- it was as if I'd picked up a book, opened it to a page at random, and read that "Nicki and Dick will move to Maryland". The idea of moving hadn't sunk in yet and wouldn't until mid-December, when we were finally able to move into our townhouse, after spending two-and-a-half months living out of a hotel room.

Our new residence just outside Gaithersburg seems much roomier than old 4207 Davis Lane in Chattanooga ever was. For one thing, we've got storage space galore, and a place other than the dining room to contain the mimeographs and electrostencil machine. And there's both a second floor and a basement, things we never had in Tennessee. One of the second floor rooms is too small for a bedroom, but just right for the computer, typewriter, and other assorted odds and ends that we never could find a suitable place for before. It's a perfect "fan lounge" area, and it's where this essay is being composed.

There's still lots of things we need to buy, though, to make this place seem more of a home. One cold night in late December, I was standing outside the front door, watching the lone furniture mover unload our newly-purchased living room furniture from his delivery van. He had successfully managed to get the chair and then the loveseat through the front door and down into the living room unscathed. But as he was pulling his hand truck with the couch strapped to it through the small courtyard that leads to our front door, not watching very closely where he was going, he backed smack into the small tree that's growing there, lost his balance and fell over sideways, the couch following him. In my mind's eye I can still see the scene -- the couch tumbling sideways in slow motion, heading for the window of the neighbor's townhouse, and me lunging frantically, arms outstretched trying to get between it and the window. We all ended up in a heap, the couch resting comfortably on me and the mover; luckily the only damage to anything was one small nick in the couch's arm and a slightly larger one in my dignity.

That late in the year there weren't any leaves on the tree, and I hadn't really paid much attention to it before then. But the collision had knocked down one of the few remaining seed pods that were still tenaciously hanging on to the upper branches of the tree. While still lying on the ground, with delivery man and couch on top of me, I reached over and picked it up; it was long, thin, and bean-like in appearance. And suddenly, I knew what kind of tree it was that had given me this 'Welcome to Maryland' greeting.

It was a Mimosa.

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