On The Move

I’m moving in 3 days.

A truck has been rented, a bunch of our stuff donated to Boomerang’s.  Room by room, my familiar apartment has been disassembled and put in boxes.  Over the weekend I posted these before and after pictures of the closet we used as a reading room.  We’ve made progress, but there’s still quite a bit to do before August 1st.

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Since we found a new place to live, I have been counting down the days until we could finally get settled into our new apartment.  I remember harboring this kind of home-making excitement ever since I moved into my first apartment in Amherst.  What was it going to be like?  I used to imagine all the fun possibilities, and still do.  Very domestic day dreams about romantic dinners at home or game nights with friends or a quiet afternoon alone, reading a book with some homemade chai.

But with each box packed, each decoration carefully stripped off the wall, I’ve been feeling a little more sad.  After six hours of packing yesterday, I had to go outside for some fresh air.  Kyle and I took a walk.  Even though it was pretty dreary for a summer evening with an overcast sky and drizzling rain, I realized how much I’ve come to enjoy this little sliver of Boston between the Arboretum and the Cemetery.

Sure, this apartment is drafty in winter.  We’ve had problems with the kitchen sink.  Sometimes I can hear arguments between some shady characters hanging out in the parking lot at the bottom of the hill behind our house.

But I also come home to the most beautiful views of the sunset.

Okay, so maybe I’m getting too emotional here.  We are just moving down the street, not to the other side of the planet.  Moving to Japan was far more daunting than this.  And here’s a little snapshot to prove it–


We had just as much stuff three years ago as we do now, except then we had it crammed into one room that we shared, not sprawled throughout a 1.5 bedroom apartment.  Somehow everything fit, and somehow everything was packed up, and we lugged 200 lbs of our absolute essentials with us to Osaka.

Aside from my four years in Amherst and 3 months in Osaka, I’ve lived in Boston my whole life.  Yet somehow I still feel like a nomad.  I know a lot of other renters in this city who have a lease by lease existence– living somewhere until the lease runs out and the rent is hiked up to an unreasonable price, forcing us to find somewhere not as nice but slightly more expensive than where we started out.

I have a lot of friends who have houses they bought and mortgages that are half the price of renting.  I know it’s crazy, but I prefer this slightly nomadic existence.  I find it comforting to know that, when my year is up, I can do what I want, go where I want, and not worry about the responsibility of a house.

I think this is part of the joy I seek in writing.

I remember watching movies when I was a kid, and never being able to decide what I wanted to do when I grew up.  Did I want to be a vet?  Or an actress?  Or deliver babies?  Or work in an office?  Or a photographer?

I could never decide.

Somewhere along the line I realized that writing was a way for me to experience anything that I wanted to, without choosing one path.

And I think this is the source of my sadness.  Though I have chosen a career that allows me to live vicariously through the characters I create, the path still moves under my feet.  I’ve also reached a point in my life where I don’t need to imagine as much as I used to– things are less mysterious to me now than when I was in my late teens/early twenties.  These days, I find myself with more memories than made-up fantasies.

Writing takes vision, and it also takes ruthless, goal-oriented determination.  I’m used to hammering these perfect, tiny existences with my words, getting all the details the way I want.  I used to treat my life the same way as I would a story.  It used to be a shock when, after trying and trying and trying, things wouldn’t go the way I planned.

This was a consistent theme in my book, Running In Circles.  Back when I first got out of college, I had this vision for what I wanted my life to be like.  I was living with my high school sweetheart in an apartment we would rent until we would get married or buy a house– and I wanted both those things to happen in my “Five Year Plan.”  I also wanted to get my MFA and write a book and travel to Europe.

This vision didn’t pan out as I had hoped.  Our relationship crumbled.  Every other weekend I was packing my stuff and moving out of the apartment we were supposed to share.  I had to learn, the hard way, to allow life to happen, and to enjoy the ride.  When I am able to do that, I usually find that things turn out even better than I had originally imagined.

So what’s next?

I don’t know.

But I hope that it’s going to be good!