Saturday, September 1, 2007

Where to Now?

Moving is a funny thing. I've been thinking lately how the experience is a very distinct ladder of phases, but instead of jumping off the top (which one might think more symbolic of moving faraway) the move is actually the first rung up. And then you climb, navigating travel troubles, unforeseen (or intentionally ignored) costs, emotional upheaval, excitement, regret, fear, hope.

It's like a death and a birth at the exact same moment -- mourning the loss for what's been left behind (romanticizing it as soon as the door closes behind you), and rejoicing in the new that lies ahead (while at the very same time secretly dreading the unknown).

I know this because I am a relocation addict. I know this because my whole life has been a study in movement, in change, in adaptability. I would complain, but I'm all too aware that some part of me lives for this, depends on this.

So what happens when you get to the top of the ladder? Well, turns out there's a wide open view, and it's hard to imagine staying forever in that small space where you stand. Distance, movement sometimes equal possibilities. And we all know that right where you are almost never seems the perfect place to be, because life is messy. But the catch is that life follows you wherever you go.

You may think this means that I'm not happy where I am, which is actually not true. I've managed to live a number of placed around the country, both as a child and as an adult, and I feel quite drawn, quite rooted in this mid-size Midwestern town poised on the Mississippi, with a deep vein of history running through it and a future that looks less certain. I came from booming Central Florida, where the sun is shining and the investors are smiling all the while plowing citrus and gator holes under like so much garbage. If that's progress, I don't want it.

People look stricken when I tell them we just moved to this area, and ask "why?" I give them the pat answer (my husband's employment, we have family here), but the truth is that we're here because somewhere in my gut told me "this is the next place." And something will happen here. So we came.

And this is it, for awhile. My daughter's in middle school, and my son will be next year so, good sports that they are, we're done giving them the runaround. They'll settle in and play in the band and have football games and dances, and part-time jobs at the Dairy Queen or whatever. And whatever's supposed to happen will.

And in all likelihood, even standing still at the top of that ladder, we'll still spend most of our time mourning the past and rejoicing in the future, because that's what we do, isn't it? That's what we do.
artwork: Martin Puryear, Ladder for Booker T. Washington


Christine said...

I moved around a lot as a kid, and it left me with a permanent desire to travel. It's funny, because my two boys love home, and have no desire to see distant lands.

It sounds like your children are happy as long as they're with you.

SusieJ said...

That was a beautiful post. It is like birth and death at exactly the same moment. Great photo.