the main difference between me and many others lies at corner of the often-harmless comment of, "oh man, i'd move here in a heartbeat!!" and the torrid romance felt between my volkswagen and I-40.
because, unlike most others who crave roots and stability at the cellular level, i WILL TOTALLY MOVE MYSELF ANYWHERE NO QUESTIONS ASKED AND ON MY OWN DIME. actually, i've already been in (insert new city here) for two weeks and i know all the good scone places. do you like rhubarb? let's go, i'll drive!
i grew up rootless, raised in part by a mom with three jobs, a brother seven years older than me, and a TV whose channels i was never allowed to change, lest i get power-bombed by the aforementioned brother. "mr. hanky the christmas poo" and mystery science theater 3000 were my most favorite babysitters by default. i was your typical neckless latchkey kid in the 90s, always hoping to be asked to stay for dinner. hurricane charley took our power out and my mom doesn't get off her second job until 11 so yes, i'd love to sleep over.
after my parents' long, drawn-out divorce was finalized, i stayed with my mom in orlando and my brother went with my dad to philly, parent trap-style. my brother was lucky to be able to go off to college near my dad and grandparents that fall, whereas my mom and i would move houses somewhere between 12-16 times from the time i was eleven to seventeen. sometimes we moved 3-4 times in a year, from house to house, often crashing in the empty houses of affluent "snowbirds" who were away for the summer season, hopping to another house when they came back in the fall. my mom had worked in the restaurant at my childhood neighborhood's golf course for over 20 years, so we earned their good graces and were always lucky to stay in our relatively upper middle class suburb, albeit our time was counted out in months or weeks each round.
getting rides home from school and cheerleading was always an interesting social experiment.
"same house?" the moms would ask, and i'd shift in my seat a bit because there had been too many times the moms had assumed wrongly that i was in the same house they had dropped me off last time, which was likely only two weeks earlier. the girls i rode home with had one childhood bedroom they would eventually come home from college and reminisce inside of, finding old passed notes stashed behind desk drawers. i, on the other hand, have had about 20 childhood bedrooms that i do not have access to anymore. i sometimes have to remind myself to not get angry that my entire snow globe collection was trashed in transit from house 10 to 11, because this also meant i got 20 opportunities to redecorate my room, which most of the time meant i modeled it after beyonce's bedroom in her episode of MTV cribs from 2000, including a frighteningly spot-on recreation of her pillow-seat area i used for exclusively eating pizza hut p'zones inside of.
one year, we lived in two different houses, but my mom hosted my seventeenth birthday in a third empty house in the neighborhood (called "the gym house", where the rich owners of the neighborhood housed their gym equipment.) i had a costume party that year, going as a peacock with a headdress i made myself. my friends and i all played on the exercise machines, posed on the pool tables. it was a total fucking blast and the polaroids from it are priceless and always hoped when they came over that's where we could hang out. while i wouldn't be able to afford the cars my friend were given at 17 until i was 26, i have countless photos of all my friends posed precariously on stair-masters to leak to good morning america when one of them eventually runs for congress.
it was this hairy even into high school when we moved into a nicer, steadier town home near the library. the child support was running dry, so we got a roommate who we realized later had lied to us about being allergic to dogs (he was afraid my elderly dog would "ruin" his couch). because of this flaming douche-canoe, we had to house tank, my childhood dog, in two separate empty "snowbird" houses in our old neighborhood, as well as with a craigslist stranger when we got caught by the owners eventually. i would walk over each night to keep him company in high school. we watched a lot of sex and the city and tank was a total charlotte.
i sound like a military brat immediately to most people who wanted to make sense of my childhood, but i usually have to clarify that uh, no, we were just kinda poor and had no family nearby to rely on, nor did we want to rely on anyone who could trace this back to us personally. friends and family often didn't know. my limited 2 shirts with a rollerskating frog on them often denoted a sense of stability, but that shit was ross dress for less CLEARANCE, BABY. our life was often dictated by the omnipotent golf course-owning gods that be, for better or for worse. it definitely grew a part of our brain that i think has grown overdeveloped over the years, this level of scrappiness and resolve that i think i personally could afford to relax a bit. i now feel identified by my moves and think i'm smitten with the feeling of air beneath my feet just before i land firmly on them again.
the cliche of moving so often is to flee something. i feel like this is personally wrong for me, because i always come back to these places like an idiot (um, booboo, have you ever seen a movie where a witch tries to resuscitate some dead mortal husband?? that shit was meant to DIE AND STAY DEAD.) i could romanticize myself into being like "just visiting a place is so superficial, i really need to be a local to understand this place", but it makes my skin crawl when i know i can't leave a place. finishing college was one of the hardest things i've ever done, not because of course load, but because i had literally not lived in a place that long since i was eleven and it ate me up.
for the last decade (wow), all of my own moves have been intentional, with a purpose to uphold some sort of passion or values or dreams. all very noble plans. plans i don't usually uphold (lol), but like cute effort anyway, self?? i've moved across the country in almost all directions and to almost every corner, a fact i've tried to condense down to a convenient elevator pitch to save breath, but just ends up with making all of my moves seem accidental, like i've taken a hand off the wheel of my own life to quickly pick up a potato chip i dropped on the floor of my car before the stoplight goes green.
from florida to chicago, it was for an outdated dream (i lasted two weeks because have you ever dropped out of college and gotten an insane craigslist roommate in a city you've never been to?! woof, age 19). from florida to boston it was to finish college in the most collegiate city possible because i love extremes and also collared shirts (age 20-22, not bad, self. new record!)
and from boston to new york, it was pure expectation and a cluelessness that there were any other places to be in besides a city (21-22, 23-25 and again 26-27, and wrong, a thousand times wrong!!)
from new york to la (the first time, whoops), it was to escape a manipulative relationship and to set up shop in a city where not one single corner made me feel nauseous and punchy, mostly because i was careening past them so fast in ubers and my tiguan and yo, walking is for LOSERS.
from la to new york (why!? this is never a good transition! you're too soft, you little baby crab! your carapace is not fully formed! you're tame and half-boiled now! your home is a PLATE now.) you thought hey, maybe old dreams are worth resuscitating and LOL, girl no.
in some ways, it's the tone of my voice that opens up my own damn life for other's opinions. if i add a hint of "i'm moving again, i guess?" that question mark is the tonal equivalent of a poker "give", an eyebrow flinch behind my sunglasses and all hell breaks lose. "you're more of a country person. why are you here?" or "lol, when are you moving again?" are constant comments i field. each time i move, my skin does get a little thinner. people often think i need help i never asked for or needed.
i still have the fantasies pre-move where THIS new place is the city where i stumble into the home depot hammer section and find some strapping guy with the most well-balanced dad bod (like he does crossfit sometimes but really enjoys donut culture???) and use some line that incorporates the clever pun of "BANGIN'" and we FALL in LOVE. (his name is jeremy and he loves his mom and building me built-in desks. my desk even has a desk! i surely can't move now that i have built-ins!) or some iteration of THIS being the city where i make a living off of handicrafts/screenwriting /become a lady mechanic and learn to love the quiet/allow myself get a lot of birds/plant an avocado tree.
deep down, i know i always meet myself as soon as i hang all my photos up and pantomime the fun of moving, starting over, and playing house with myself. i have nothing to hide from myself and i'd gladly welcome the feeling of forgetting where else i could possibly be. she's always there, that betch, but man does she know her way around an ikea in a relatively painless 45 minute blur. the swedish meatballs are always on me as long as i can use your truck to move my "stenklöver" (this is an actual ikea product name. fact-check me, i fucking dare you!!!). my mom recently advised me to stop throwing myself goodbye parties. i'll always love living in the in-between space, much like waiting in an airport. in transit but also in stasis.
i can never promise that this will be the last time.