|Baby. © Ryan Schierling|
He pulled the truck to the curb in front of a yellow, split-level house with brown garage doors, right at the shoulder of the court. Coronado Court. That was my new address… I'd gone from E. 8th Street to Coronado Court. It was a lot to take in.
My mom and sister got out of the car behind us, and once the front door was unlocked, I bolted upstairs to see which room I was going to get.
A few minutes later, I heard my mother yell for my dad, and then I heard her crying. I ran from my new room to the kitchen and saw her standing with the refrigerator door open, holding a green bottle with a red ribbon tied around it.
A solitary bottle of champagne in an otherwise empty refrigerator, left by the previous owners of the house, for the new owners of the house.
I didn't completely grasp the significance of this gesture at the age of eight.
Some years later, early into my adult life, it made infinitely more sense. Moving is a trying time – it usually accompanies a new job, a new environment, a new social climate, a new learning curve – and the stress and uncertainty of uprooting yourself and your family can make for difficult transitions and trying times.
That bottle of champagne made a tremendous impression on my mother, and on me. I've done my best to leave a bottle of bubbly behind, every time I've moved on, because someone else is just as stressed and scared and exhausted as you were when you moved in.
When Julie and I arrived in Austin, our house, our wee suburban cabin, had a small barrel smoker parked off the back deck. I don't know if it was intentional or not (or if all new Texans are issued a smoker when they arrive) but it was truly appreciated. The previous owners couldn't have left behind a more appropriate housewarming gift.
After sampling phenomenal brisket at some legendary Texas barbecue joints over the last year, I finally mustered up the stones to smoke my own brisket, and I wish I could send a bottle of champers to the previous owners of the house for leaving "Baby" behind.
|Baby pictures. © Ryan Schierling|
Of course, being my first brisket, I was a little obsessive. I wandered out every ten minutes or so, adjusting the smoke-box flap a half inch this way or a quarter inch that way, until I was satisfied that an initial air/fire/smoke equilibrium had been reached. While brisket is one of the cheapest cuts you can buy, it's still a $30+ piece of meat. It is a humbling feeling, to have to tend to the wants and needs of the lowliest cut of beef for hours on end. Thankfully, after the first three hours, a little Lightening Hopkins and a six-pack of beer, I loosened up and let the smoker do its job. After 16 hours, I was drunk, smelled like a campfire, and I was ravenous.
|Baby's first brisket. © Ryan Schierling|