I’m moving, for the third time in less than seven years, this time from Austin, Texas, to Oakland, California. Prior to that period I lived in the same house for 17 years and the same city (Washington, DC) for 28 years, so I’m experiencing a certain amount of emotional upheaval.
In the years since I outgrew the college habit of moving almost every year (I can give a great tour of Austin based on places where I lived back in the day), I’ve moved three times because of a job, three times because I bought a place, and once to get a better landlord. Two of those moves were across half the country.
This time, though, I’m moving for love. I never did that before. And it’s across the other half of the country.
The love factor is making this transition both more fraught and more pleasant than most. I’ve been happily single for most of my life. The last time I tried living with someone I was in my mid-20s and the few times after that when I thought I was in love I got my heart broken.
About the time I turned 40 I decided to stop looking and just concentrate on making a life. It wasn’t a vow of celibacy; I said at the time I wouldn’t pass up love if it came along. I just didn’t expect it to come along.
But a couple of years ago it did. And I didn’t pass it up.
So now I have to move, because long distance relationships are not nearly as romantic as they sound. Waking up next to someone is a lot better than waking up to a morning text message and you can’t touch each other on Skype. Plus we seem to be very good at sharing the regular things of life, like making meals and buying groceries. Amazing how much more pleasant mundane chores are when you do them together. Romance is wonderful, but living together requires a good partnership on the ordinary life things.
Have I mentioned that I hate moving? Or that I’m a disorganized pack rat? The last two moves didn’t get rid of as much stuff as I would have hoped, especially since I also ended up as the repository for my father’s things after he passed.
It does not help that the place where we’ll be living is smaller than the place I’m living in now. And we’ve both got a lifetime worth of stuff, including the kind of stuff that has serious sentimental value in spite of being mostly useless.
If I’d known I was going to be moving again so soon, I probably wouldn’t have bought a house in Austin. But I wasn’t in love when I bought it. Though I’m not quite sure why I did buy it, except that I was getting sick of renting and knew it would be a good investment.
I never planned to stay in Austin. I came here because my father needed me after my mother died and my company had a job opening here for which I was very qualified. And it was past time for me to leave DC, not that I don’t love the place.
But I didn’t really want to come back to Texas. Truth is, it’s a lot more fun playing the Texan when you’re not actually in Texas. Seen up close, the myths are threadbare, especially when they’re being trumpeted by right-wing politicians. And despite having the perfect climate for renewable energy – both solar and wind – the state is still in thrall to fossil fuels.
I like Austin. The co-op scene is growing. There are hundreds of great places to eat, from food trucks to spots run by the fanciest chefs. It’s almost impossible to go somewhere and not hear live music. There’s art and theatre and culture galore. The economy is healthy. And I even like the climate, except in August.
But I don’t love Austin, not like I loved it when I came here for college and felt like I’d died and gone to heaven. Back then, the place didn’t need the current slogan of “Keep Austin Weird.” It was doing fine at staying weird without any reminders.
Today, though, it’s the fastest growing city in the country. The downtown office buildings hide the capitol (not necessarily a bad thing, given that the legislators are an embarrassment to us all). The highways make me think of Houston. So do a lot of the malls.
And Oakland beckons. It’s every bit as hip, much more diverse, and – I know this sounds like heresy – quite a bit weirder than Austin.
Besides, once I move I’ll be able to say that I’m tri-coastal: I grew up on the Gulf Coast, lived for many years along the Atlantic, and now will be living quite close to the Pacific.
And there’s that love thing.
So it’s transition time. Actually, it’s been transition time for awhile now. A lot of changes in my life, a lot of travel, a lot of not feeling like I was at home no matter where I was.
I’m looking forward to getting settled again.