Since I got divorced four years ago and was forced to sell my beloved midcentury-modern home near White Rock Lake, I have moved three times. The first time was into a laughably small rental house in Little Forest Hills that was broken into, I suspect, by the guy who used to mow the lawn. The second time was into the bottom floor of a duplex in Oak Cliff, where my upstairs neighbors were an overly friendly actor who tried to get me to go to church with his family and, later, a gay couple who had two ferrets as pets.
The third time, I moved into where I currently live, another duplex in the middle of a block full of them, off Garland Road. My neighbors are huge Dallas Cowboys fans, to the point where they fly a Cowboys flag in front of their/our house on game days. My lease is up this month, and I’m considering moving again. (Not because of the flag. Or, not only because of it.) I thought it would be helpful to make a list of pros and cons.
PROS: The rent is fairly cheap for two bedrooms and one bath and a sizable kitchen (and a garage!). Plus, the location is six minutes away from my son’s school, which is nice. And there is a TC Shaved Ice just around the corner, which is unbelievably clutch in August and September.
CONS: My landlords have invoiced me for small repairs that traditionally have fallen under the rubric “Not My Problem.” Also, every 12 to 14 days—in the summer, it’s more like five to eight—one of the residents across the street gets into a protracted argument with another resident that, from what I can tell, is over who can say a word that rhymes with “other trucker” the most times in the loudest voice.
Oh, I guess I should also mention the owl.
The first time I saw the owl, I don’t mind telling you, I was delighted. Delighted! There it was, in my backyard, not 10 feet away, staring at me with that flat face and those big eyes, the features that have led ornithologists throughout history to refer to owls as the pugs of the bird kingdom. Or maybe it’s the French bulldogs of the bird kingdom. I forget which. I later learned it was an Eastern screech owl; you probably know it better as Megascops asio. I took a handful of pretty terrible iPhone photos, and that was it. Until almost a week later, which is when the owl attacked me.
It was a Monday night, around 11:30. After smoking a cigarette on my back porch, I went to throw the butt in the garbage can, about 50 feet away. I had only taken a few steps when the owl swooped down from who knows where, flying over my right shoulder, close enough that I had to duck and (this was optional) yell a word that rhymes with “other trucker.” I kept walking. Ten more feet, and the owl was back, silent except for a slight click as it buzzed past again, this time grazing the top of my head, which—as it happens—shares the same gray-brown coloring as the Eastern screech owl. I guess I can’t completely rule out the possibility that it had mistaken me for one of its pals and was just saying hi.
But I doubt it, because after I finally made it to the garbage can, I saw the owl again. It had landed on a power line, facing me. Stalking me. I made a move; it made a move. I tried to walk through the back gate, and it whooshed past me before disappearing. After waiting for what I felt was a safe amount of time—like, 10 minutes, maybe—I decided to go for it. I made it about 5 feet before the owl dive-bombed me again. Yelling something like “Goddaaaaargh,” I took off in a dead sprint. When I made it to the porch, I turned my head slightly. There was the owl, close enough to my head that I could feel its flapping wings. I practically dove through the door.
After asking around the next day, I was told that being attacked by an owl was a rare occurrence, probably wouldn’t happen again, but maybe use an umbrella for the walk from my car to my back door, just in case. Of course, I didn’t have the umbrella with me the next night when I went to smoke a cigarette—this time on the front porch—and the owl (holy crap) buzzed me again, clicking as it flew past.
So, I guess probably my biggest reason for wanting to move is that my neighbors now know me as the weird guy who walks around his backyard at night under an umbrella.