Get a Move On
I recently moved for the twenty-first time. Moving is nobody's favorite activity. On a "Seinfeld" episode, helping friends move is described as the male equivalent of "going all the way." You know who your friends really are when it comes time to move.It is such a horrendous undertaking, I only move when I'm forced to, never because I just want to. I've been forced to move when my father moved and insisted that, as a dependent child, I had to go to. I've been forced to move when I've been assigned different dorm rooms, or wanted something off campus so I'd never have to move.Then I've moved because roommates or jobs or whatever was enabling me to pay for the apartment evaporated and I had to make other arrangements. I've moved to get out of school districts that were making my son's life an ordeal, and I've moved to be near certain men and jobs or to get away from certain men and jobs.This last move was triggered by a combination of ordeals, a new job with a longer commute, a new landlord with plans to tax my patience and raise my rent, a benefactor who fronted me the moving money, and the perfect rental appearing, as if ordered, at exactly the time all the other things were coming to a head. The message could not have been clearer. It was time to move!As I was packing up, I thought about the odd fact that every single time I have moved, it has been a positive thing, or so it seemed at the time. The move before it was a positive thing, too, so either I'm on a steep, ever-improving stairway to heaven here, or what seemed like a great place to move a few years ago inevitably evolves into a place I look forward to leaving.Probably I'm just going around in circles. Just the very fact of change, different places to hang my clothes or put a towel rack, gives a person a new outlook on life.Some of the happiest moments of my life were moving days, like the day I left the only house I ever owned. I was going to an apartment, and on the surface, that may seem a downhill move, but to me it was freedom. I was leaving a marriage, as well as the house. I pulled out of the driveway and started down the street, with the moving van in my rear view mirror, and felt true joy for one of the few times in my life. The back of my neck actually tingled.Of course, on that happy day, I was unaware that the next two years in the sparkling little bachelorette apartment would be the worst of my life, marked with loneliness the likes of which I had never experienced, as well as unemployment, and mental despair. So when I fled that luxury apartment for a small, Spartan flat above a store in the city, I was happy about that. I would now concentrate on my career. As a writer, I needed to re-experience the urban lifestyle, the people, the whole Woody Allen side of life. I needed to wash my own dishes again and walk home from the grocery store, and do my laundry with fistful of quarters, side by side with drug addicts, the homeless, and people who engaged the PacMan machine in deep conversation.I liked that apartment. Being able to walk to not one, but two, 7-11s is always a plus, but the third time the building was sold, the new landlord was Darth Vader. He raised the rent, but took away the tenants' storage space. He remodeled the downstairs unit so he could charge more rent, and in the process, enclosed our circuit breakers inside that apartment. It was a violation of building code, but he didn't care. We lived in fear of plugging in two things at the same time, with no way to get to the breakers. We had to flee, and although I had been joyous to move into that $395 flat six years earlier, I was equally happy to flee the now $500 a month flat and head out.And so I left that apartment and the Rastarians who waved beer bottles under my window and accused each other of unseemly behaviors with their mothers, and I was happy about that. I was happy to stop being an urban guerrilla, fighting for parking places on the streets with the yuppie neighbors who think they should get all the spots under the trees for their BMWs, even if they take two spots to get them. I was happy to now be a country mouse, contemplating the beauty of daybreak in the woods, with the geese flying over head, and my old car in the driveway, under all the trees.All comfy and settled in now, I can't imagine what cataclysm in my future will ever make me move from here. What circumstances would make me leave all this? I fear it like death. And yet, at the same time, I know when it comes, I'll probably be fleeing again, like Lot's family, heading for a better place, not looking back, and happy about it.