Every Damn Year

I move every year. Sometimes for price reasons, for neighborhood reasons, sometimes to flee infestations, to flee singlehood, to flee relationships. Sometimes it is roommates doing these things and my end of the lease is collateral damage. Changing position within the city feels like the natural extension of the shifting social currents that have been pushing me through to adulthood over the past decade.

I am famous for moving. One of the books I’m trying to get rid of is signed by the author with a cheerful note commenting that the two times said author met me, I’d been in the middle of moving. I’ve published essays about it. So it feels logical that, in my mother’s words, I’d be “pretty good at it by now.”

Not to brag, but I am. I am a crack shot at moving from one New York City apartment to another. I can do it in a week or less from start to finish, no problemo. But this time is different. This time, we are moving, as in two of us, together. And this time, we are leaving New York. Not only are we leaving New York, but we are headed to the one place my 2003 self would never have dreamt of winding up. We are going to Los Angeles.

Usually in the fall, a new batch of essays will come out by people who came to, or left, or came to and then left, New York. This is likely true of all major cultural centers, I guess. It must be. Has anyone read a great essay about deciding to leave Chicago, lately? I’d love to see it.  This year I believe there was a whole book of such essays. I listened to the women who contributed talk about their pieces on the radio, with varying compassion and annoyance. They were wistful, regretful, gung-ho, optimistic, fatalistic, but everyone including Leonard Lopate had a piece to speak on why this giant cluster-eff of an island chain is the best/worst place in the world. This made me feel unoriginal.

Mostly what I think, trying to imagine my 22-year-old self scoffing at now-self for actually contemplating leaving is how irrelevant the reasons for preferring one place to another all seem. You drive, or you don’t. You tan, or you don’t. You talk fast, or slow, or too much, or not very much, and it doesn’t matter. None of this makes you any more you than anything else. There’s something of interest just about everywhere on the globe. The loveliest thing about adulthood, for me, is sensing that the person who you are, essentially, the I dunno WHAT that makes you one person, as opposed to another, is there regardless of surroundings. I’m stuck in this brain no matter what external concerns are making it hamster-wheel with anxiety on any given day. So bring on the change. I’m pretty good at it, by now.


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