I lived in a single home from 1st grade to 5th in the suburbs outside of LA. Those years seem like the longest that I have ever lived. The memories are stark. The time you sprained your ankle a reminder why your ankle hurts now. The time you called the school bully a girl and got beat up a reminder why you still can’t keep your mouth shut when you should. Those small experiences gain traction and become monuments.
When we moved to Utah that summer I saw myself as two people. The kid before and the kid after. We moved again, this time to a trailer while my parents began a long form plan to build a cabin in the woods. It never happened and we moved again, this time farther from the city–Park City it was–on the outskirts near the freeway and the Wallmart, an hour long ride after school, the second to last kid on the bus.
We returned to Calabasas soon after. That summer I grew six inches, stayed the same weight, my voice changed, and I got braces and pimples. The two years in Utah became a memory, a distant persona I could grasp but not relive. I was three people now. The before and the after, and that time in the middle when I was so close to a complete human being.
I didn’t move again for a long while.
We attach ourselves to friends and lovers. The breakup isn’t so hard because of the hurt, it’s so hard because what once was a pillar of your life is wrenched free and you are forced to rebuild. That’s what it’s like to move. Each move is a tiny breakup, a divorce from something within yourself you wanted to build. Not just the wallpaper and the gardens and the shelves you put up in the kitchen, but the idea of yourself at that time and the idea of how you imagined you could be.
We move a lot in our 20’s. We’re seeking something, right? Each place and person, each job and plan is another mirror we hang up to see if things look right. They rarely do. That’s part of the adventure. Trying to find the right fit. I’ve lived at my home now longer than I’ve lived anyplace else since I was 19. From then to now is a staggering amount of time, one I don’t really want to think about. I’m not three people now but six or seven or eight or nine, all of them scattered and locked away in different homes and locals. It’s not a sad thing. That’d be the worst way to look at it. Each move is like a cairn in the desert: follow them closely to stay on my trail, but feel free to branch off and get lost.
© 2013 Christopher Dart