i am in d.c. right now. we just experienced a snow storm that brought about 18 inches of snow. the city looks so peaceful and at night, there is this wonderful white glow from the light reflecting off the snow. during the storm, i have stayed confined to my apartment, (hopefully) nearing the end of packing up all my possessions.
i have moved 12 times in 13 years. i should be a professional at this packing business by now. yet, it still causes me anxiety. the worst is that last push – the final five or so boxes that you fill with random oddly-sized objects – hangers, a desk lamp, that huge wooden bowl, that magnetic knife bar that i never hung up in this apartment. i am reminded of all the things i wanted to do in this apartment and never got around to doing them. then i am sent on a thought process about how i never settle into any apartment – the combination of immigrant status, unstable employment, and changing relationships has caused me to feel like everything is temporary. i felt like i might have to pick up and leave at any moment. i am finally learning how my worrying creates the sense of impermanence in my life. that if i can just be in the moment, i can find all the permanence and stability that i might need.
and then i realize that 30 minutes have passed and i haven’t made any progress with those last five boxes.
~ raymond carver, last fragment.
anais nin, “there came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” (via a.l.).
the first 23 years of my life were relatively stable – same city, same neighborhoods, same home, same family. the last 14 years of my life have felt like an almost constant move – city to city, apartment to apartment, boxes upon boxes. recently, i’ve been feeling a little too old for such shenanigans. time to settle down, pick a place to live, maybe even buy a home. there is some part of me that felt, and perhaps still feels, like a bit of a failure for not doing this.
only recently have i come to accept that this is how i live my life. that such fluctuations do not have to represent failure – they represent my path and all that i have been fortunate to experience. there are moments when i feel untethered – when i don’t know where to call home. and then there are amazing moments when i feel roots binding me to so many places that i feel truly lucky. making the decision to move again, pack everything up again, this time live with even less of my stuff, live with an even greater sense of transience – this decision was really about taking the risk to find that place again where i can be in my own skin and be happy and feel at home wherever i am. although moving and leaving again are hard, staying where i was would have been more difficult.
about two months ago, i decided to take a sabbatical from my career as a non-profit lawyer. serendipity would have it that just as i thought i was getting laid off, a friend’s band was making the decision to go the self-management route. they needed to hire someone to help and the friend also needed someone to nanny her twin baby boys on the road and during other busy days. i needed a break. i couldn’t deny it. as much as i loved my job, eight years of grant-cuts, lay-offs, poor non-profit management, and overall job insecurity had gotten to me. spending a year with babies, dear friends, and music seemed like the answer. i know it will have stressful moments and challenges, but i am ready for this change.
this transition also involves my moving back home to the city and country where i grew up. this aspect of my decision was the most difficult. after living in the united states for 14 years, my motherland doesn’t feel much like home anymore. i am looking forward to getting to know my country again, seeing what memories it opens up for me, what new memories i create, and how i might redefine home.
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