More Transitions

OaklandishJudith Tarr’s Monday blogpost on transitions made me realize that transition is the right word for my life right now, too.

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.



More Transitions — 18 Comments

    • Thanks for the good wishes. It’s impossible to know the future, but I will say I don’t have any doubts about the wisdom of this move, just serious dread at the actual moving part.

  1. So happy for how happy your life sounds right now – and I’ve heard lovely things about Oakland. I hope it quickly feels like home!

  2. You can always rent storage space, but nothing can stand in for snuggling down together, having dinner together and waking up together.

    Love, C.

        • Brenda, you should do some checking. I’d be willing to bet that the Bay Area (excluding San Francisco and other super pricey enclaves) is not any more expensive to live in than the DC Metro area. Some things are more expensive, but others are cheaper.

          If you’d really like to live out there, it’s worth spending some time seeing if you can get a lifestyle you’d enjoy on your retirement budget.

  3. We have a tendency to move every three years, but we’ve spent most of our lives up-sizing. Not until this last move did we drastically reduce our living space–because we moved from the midwest to California. The houses here are the sizes of our garage back in St Louis. All sentiment–and my library–went out the window.

    In a way, we moved for love, too. Our daughter and her family are out here. It’s been well over a year now, and we haven’t regretted giving up the material things for love and family.

    You’ll be fine. It just takes time to settle the jitters and wonder why you didn’t do it much sooner!

      • Looking forward to seeing Nancy at BayCon unless she high tails it east to WisCon. I love BayCon and not just because my grandkids live five minutes away from the Con hotel.

        • Phyl, I suspect I’ll keep going to WisCon, even though BayCon is closer. I love WisCon too much. And I wouldn’t be moving without it: I met my sweetheart due to WisCon.

          And there are other conventions in the Bay Area. Meaning you should come to Fogcon or Convolution (which I missed this year but won’t miss next year).