Musical Middle School, Infamy and Johnny Cash

Note this post was originally written on October 28.

Our realtor texted us to ask how our travel was going after we’d wired our money to the title company. Knowing she was from Kentucky, I told her we’d be going through her home state, forgetting what I was implicitly demanding by the rules of Southern hospitality. She told me her parents lived just 10 minutes away from our route, and advised us where to go and what to do in Lexington. However, we were exhausted and it was already 7 pm Eastern time by the time we got to Lexington, after 12 hours of travel, and we had another 3 1/2 hours to go. Sorry, Sue, we will have to see Lexington another time.


We gratefully crashed out at our Airbnb just on the edge of Brentwood, and by 11 am, we were at the title company where we signed a few papers and got the keys to our house. We went over and unpacked, then drove to Kelly’s new middle school to enroll her.


In San Jose, the schools are deliberately meant to be within walking distance as much as possible, and even my son’s magnet school and my daughter’s charter school were less than 3 miles from our house. It is the opposite here. Kelly’s middle school is 12 miles away from our house, on narrow single lane country roads which are the only way in and out. As we got towards the school, the lots became larger and larger, until they consisted of horse farms and mansions perched far off in the distance.


The school itself made the homeschooler in me cringe. It was thoroughly locked up and we had to be buzzed inside. There were not one, but two, uniformed men keeping an eye on things. And the rules were extensive, from no gum chewing or wearing spaghetti strap tops to wear holes are allowed on jeans and that skirts and shorts must be no further than a dollar bill’s length from the knee. But Kelly was excited that she would finally have a regular locker in which to put her stuff. Some of the elective choices were interesting, too. There isn’t a technology/programming class; instead they have something called Music Technology. As far as we could tell, it involved paying musical instruments and learning the fine points of Autotune, ProTools, as well as designing your own promotional video for YouTube. I am afraid of the kids in that class already.


All we had for proof of residency was our receipt (HUD-1) for having bought the house, but the district also needed utility bills. Luckily, an email confirmation we’d signed up was good enough, but that was also when we found out we hadn’t actually signed up for water, because we had to do so in person. So our next task was to get back to the center of Franklin and get that done. But we were trapped.


Because of the narrow single road leading into the school, it is the case that parents show up to get their children up to an hour before the school ends, and just sit blocking the parking lot and the way out. Their alternative is to arrive later, and end up idling on the road as far as 3 miles away. And none of those parents were inclined to give us the slightest break to allow us through and out. Peter also found out someone had stolen his Darth Vader antenna topper. I told Kelly homeschooling or private school were still options, but she is determined to experience the local school, even though it does mean she will have catch a bus at 6:15 am every morning. (Later, the long rides and stress of being out of place had her asking me to homeschool her, but that’s another story.)


Central Franklin was also impacted, because the town was closing down streets for the upcoming Pumpkinfest. I got out of the car while Peter went on to look for parking, and went to the water department. To my surprise, the clerk immediately identified me as the wife of the guy who’d called earlier. I’m afraid less than a day in, we are already becoming notorious.


We had a late lunch/early dinner at a pub and went off to buy some things we desperately needed in, such as something to sleep on, a frying pan, and some food. By the time that was done, we were all exhausted.


Peter started Saturday by going to a Home Depot to get some new light switches because the ones in this house are too old-fashioned for us. It’s a great house, but like our former one, we will probably rework and update it to make it ours. When he returned, Kelly and I went to the local library. It was a two story marvel, like the Cambrian branch library, but three times the size. The librarian apologetically told us that overdue fines were going up from 10 cents to 20 cents a day. We can check out preloaded Nooks and Kindles as well as books and DVDs – and VHS tapes. I refrained from telling her the San Jose libraries only recently dropped their overdue fines from 50 cents a day back to 25 cents a day. I still have a lot of books to read, but I picked out two for fun. I found Kelly in the Teen Room, where there was another clerk, listening to Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” on a low volume. She came away with a big pile of books, including several classics and Meg Cabot books she hadn’t been able to find back in San Jose.


I went back to the Home Depot to get some more lighted switches, and the helpful associate in electrical told me a guy had come in just that morning and bought two cases of the lighted switches. Er, that would probably be my husband, I told him. I went to the grocery store next door to it, and couldn’t find tostadas, though I didn’t bother to ask since I really just wanted to get milk and goat cheese, and I think we’re getting a reputation less than 24 hours in.


We had to wait for our internet installer to come. By this time Lewisburg Pike, the road that runs from our neighborhood straight into central Franklin, was at a near standstill with traffic going to the Pumpkinfest. We ended up missing the ‘fest. It hadn’t sounded like it had a lot going on, but it is clearly a big event here. All the celebrities were there probably, incognito, though I doubt I’d recognize Scott Hamilton or Peter Frampton out of costume any way. I belatedly realized the woman who looked exactly like Nicole Kidman I’d seen a week ago in Nashville probably was Nicole Kidman.


We met our neighbors on the other side, and asked them what they do for garbage pick up. All the town would tell us was that we were in an area where we’d have to arrange private garbage pick up, which sounded dodgy. Until we realized we can hire anyone and if we don’t like their service, we can fire them, unlike the passive-aggressive garbage men of San Jose, who redump garbage on our lawn and mangle carts when there is a union dispute underway. Our neighbor gave us the name of a guy who would come down our long driveway, pick up as many garbage bags as we have, and haul them away twice a week — for $84 every three months. We don’t even have to sort out recycling, unless we want to recycle for ourselves.


Oh, and then our neighbor brought over a luxurious air mattress with a frame we could use until our furniture arrived. Wow! What a great neighbor. Back at home, Kelly was reading to the koi, some of whom now have names.


Some mysterious Halloween spirit had gifted us with two pumpkins, so we carved those this morning. Our internet is up, so we watched a few Supernatural episodes and then went to bed. There’s still a lot to do here, and the only thing scary I anticipate so far is what middle school will be like.


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