July 9th, 2008

It gets easier.

During our move to New York, I remember watching my girl getting lost in memories. She’d been living in the same place for five years. Every nook of her basement apartment in Chicago hid an artifact and every artifact begged for reflection. As I ran up and down her stairs, assembling, organizing and taping, I would catch her in these moments where it was clear that the next phase of her life was starting, and that the old one was slipping away. She was a mix of nervousness, anticipation and regret. I was an impatient machine: barking commands and commanding she move on to the next corner.

I’ve never lived any where longer than two years. I have no excuse. I wasn’t an army brat; My family wasn’t in a relocation program or hiding from the mafia. We just moved. And when we stopped, I started.

I’ve moved four times in as many years. DC, Chicago, New York, San Francisco. I’m heading back to Chicago in a few weeks1, and I can already feel the city tugging me at. The to-do list getting organized in my head.

Movers need to be arranged. Boxes packed. Goodbye parties avoided and contacts kept at a distance. Better to disappear slowly. Grand exits are only appropriate if you’re never coming back.

Every item in my apartment has already been assigned a value and weight. Many won’t make the next leg. There are books I’ve only read once; Utensils that haven’t aged well. There are clothes I’d rather forgot I ever owned and gadgets made obsolete. Anything I keep is one more box to unpack when I arrive, and I’m often in a hurry to get settled.

I won’t get lost in memories when I pack. I’m the same impatient machine privately as I am publicly. Done correctly, I can pack my entire life in one evening. Two if there’s something good on TV.

I won’t miss this apartment, or this city. I’m taking everything with me that they gave me. Knowledge, memories, friends: they travel with you, bouncing around in your brain available whenever you’d like. San Francisco isn’t going anywhere.

Across the country, there’s some empty space just waiting for me to shuffle into. To fill with junk, cigarette smoke, programming books and loud music.

It’ll be different than this one, but it will be the same.

And two years from now, who knows where I’ll be. But I’ll be in a space filled with my shit, some of which I have now, some of which I’ve yet to acquire. I’ll be with her, and I’ll be OK.

Life could certainly be worse than that.

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. ~ Lao Tzu.

  1. And if you happen to know of an apartment, please, I beg of you, email me. Craigslist is a cruel, and vacant mistress in the search for a home.