Oct 19 2005
I vaguely remember this feeling from the last time I moved across country (or the last time I moved, really): the startling unreality of it, until you actually get on the road to where ever it is you are going (and sometimes the truth of the matter doesn’t hit, even then). It doesn’t feel like I’m going away in two days. It feels like, I don’t know, intensive house-cleaning or something. I think this must be a defensive psychological mechanism, the not letting in of too much information, of the truth, until the crisis is past and you are done with the work that must get done, the incredibly hard work of picking up and packaging all of one’s possessions. The first time I moved a great distance was from Arkansas to California, with
So many of us in school talked about whether we’d be “willing to move” for work and I always rather cavalierly said “oh yes!” — forgetting, I suppose what moving means, forgetting the heartbreak and the mental anguish and the damn hard work and expense. This move will be worth it, I’m convinced, for my career, and I’ve never been in a better place in my life to move (questions of who or what I love and am leaving aside). Most of my things were already packed, I was already in transition, and I’m going to a good place, a place that’s spitting distance away from a city that I’ve always said I wanted to live in. But still.
We aren’t coming back this way. That’s the impossible thing to comprehend about moving, about life, really. This is it, that’s all you get at this chance (no second tries for school, for doing a better job, for fixing a broken relationship: some things don’t mend, or at least not the way they were). I think that’s why one’s family home (if one has one) tends to have a kind of mythic status; you can come back to it, but to few other things in life. So many things we fear are tied up with this state of unrelenting ending: death, divorce — that’s it that’s all, better luck the next time you try, but it won’t be the same in the future.
I wrote on my old userpage about regrets: about how I tend to focus on the past, agonize over things gone wrong. Moving is one long exercise in regret — look, there’s a restaurant I always meant to eat at, why have I never visited Mt. Ranier, or gone kayaking on Lake Union? I hate moving so for that. Discovering a new place is lovely, certainly; it’s a joy to find new things and to be able to gradually say, “yes, I know such and so a place” — but I will miss this view over 3rd Avenue where I can endlessly watch the cars and the people; I will miss the coquettishness of Mt. Rainier; the market; the university with its quad and library and people I know. Seattle is so neighborhood-focussed that everytime I have moved within the city I’ve found myself missing particular features of each neighborhood that I’ve left — but the thought of leaving the city as a whole is breaking my heart. When I left Southern California it was easier; I didn’t like it much, for one thing, and I was going back to school and on to better things. Leaving Arkansas was bizarre for many reasons but was also tinged with the excitement that comes with naivety. This — this move is yet another thing. I suppose we shall see what it brings.
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