it hit me saturday morning, when i was driving through my old neighborhood, how much had changed. the hallmark store where i used to buy cards and wrapping paper now sells beauty supplies. my favorite haunt for soup and salad is now a steakhouse. even the art store, where i got a student discount on my supplies long after i was out of school, was closed. “didn’t you know?” claudine said to me. “a plane crashed into it.”
i imagined the textured paper and colored envelopes and buckets of pilot v ball pens exploding into the air, and frowned. “no, i didn’t know that.”
it made me feel old, kind of. like in the movies, when they come home for the holidays and walk into their dusty rooms and look at old photos and books sitting on the shelves. i pored through photo albums, sitting indian-style in the corner of my bedroom (we still call it my bedroom, although it’s really not. it’s the bedroom of a 12-year-old girl, frilly pillows and porcelain angels and all). i wished i had someone there with me to marvel at all the places i’d been, to point out the people who’d stepped in and out of my life, to laugh at my various stages and assure me i really had grown out of that.
instead, it was dinners and parties; hugs and kisses; chit-chat and tsis mis; playing catch-up on the past few weeks, months, years; aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and friends of friends.
when they asked me what was new with me, i said i was moving. their response was always, again?
yes, again, i said, with a bite of turkey, with a swig of beer, with a sip of champagne. i lived within a 5-mile radius for 20 years of my life, and now i can’t stop moving.
like a leaf carried by the wind.
and this morning, i left my parents’ house early to meet my roommate at our new place. i paid my first month’s rent, picked up my keys and wandered some more around the neighborhood. we steam cleaned the blue carpet and bought a magnetic poetry calendar for the kitchen. blank crisp pages, shiny silver keys, fresh clean carpet. everything is new, again.
i’m so excited, she said.
i don’t even know how long i’ll stay. that’s how i seem to operate these days. open-ended, open-minded, open-hearted. just waiting for signs, for answers, for anything.
the key, i think, is to be ready. also: strong packing tape.