Monday, August 26, 2013

Where to be

In our future house! We'll live there together, it won't be weird, don't make it weird.
The other weekend we went out to D.C. for my sister-in-law's baby shower and to visit. I imagined life for the little Capitol Hill baby, that silly white dome looming ordinary as the sun and moon. (I am not saying that our Congress is silly, per seeee, I just happen to find neoclassical architecture a little corny.) The little guy will have a backyard of world-class museums and libraries. We went to the United States Botanic Garden and I wanted to lie down on the floor in there like the past 27 years I'd been walking just to get there. Nick's brother, Mike, explained that had he his druthers, he'd live in a house that looked just like the place. "Mike," I said, grabbing both his shoulders. "MIKE. ME. TOO."

I stood next to a ylang ylang tree and just, silently smelled. Smelling is a close cousin to breathing (did you know?) so it became a sort of meditation. In Costa Rica, the air, the world, everything, smelled like tropical blooms. This is not in manicured resorts, this is through dirt roads past tiny homes with corrugated metal roofs, in the woods, everywhere. It smells so good you have to use words like "sublime" and "divine", it's like the smell is being piped in somehow. I wanted to savor it, to stop each time I became aware of it, to hog it. But I never needed to. It went on and on. It was perennial, the Capitol dome.

"It will be hard to get back to real life," said Anna to me as we sipped morning coffee, having just shuffled down the treehouse steps barefoot. Monkeys shook the branches in the canopy overhead as I popped my chair back on two legs. This IS real life. Just not for us, a small voice inside me said. And then a smaller voice, not yet.

The last day in D.C. we used the bikeshare and sailed around, the bikes beneath us transforming our behavior instantly into a pack of neighborhood punks. We circled each other menacingly, raced between stop signs, floated our hands away from our handlebars like we were performing a spell. "I feel like I'm in a movie!", my mother-in-law said, gawking at the wide brick avenues and candy-colored rowhouses.

We are moving in 2-3 years, probably. Nick will finish school and hopefully get a job and it won't be in Columbus (not how the academia thing works). I have lived here for the better part of ten years and Nick has lived here even longer, and sometimes we will have to cut through campus in the car driving and I will actually gasp from surprise that we are still here. And now I should disclaim that I like it here. I just don't want it to be the only place I ever live.

I used to want to be where people would love me. I had a boyfriend who was dead-set on moving to the Bay Area and so I (silently) decided that must be where I was going too. I figured my oldest friend Leslie would get a job in NYC after school and that if my luck didn't turn I would follow her there.

Zan asked me a while ago where I would live if I could live anywhere and I couldn't answer her. There exists no place on earth with the mountains and the ocean and the forest and a reasonable cost of living and good bike infrastructure and laid-back yet unflakey folks and both our families and oh yeah friends old and new. But some lush paradise with all my friends and family around me sounds a lot like Judeo-Christian heaven, a concept that has chilled me to my core since I first got word of the whole deal. So maybe what I should have said to Zan was Madison, Wisconsin, no, Maine, no, Peru, no, Louisville, Kentucky. They say it's the new Portland and it's a hell of a lot closer to my parents...


  1. I bet Louisville would be the least flakey spot of all of them. And I think there are mountains nearby... Loved this, Evie.

  2. HOLD THE PHONE, is that a Darkness On The Edge Of Town shirt you are wearing yes it is, yes it very much is.

    I feel you so very much on this dudette. Even though we have only just recently moved and I am still in my honeymoon "everything is so cool here" phase, I keep being afraid that it won't be enough, that we will have to move again and then again after that. That I will never be satisfied with any one place or people or weather or ecosystem. But then... so what if I'm not? So what if I have to keep seeing new sees and loving new loves? Is that really so bad. Some people just collect different versions of their lives like others collect figurines.

    1. Love me some Suicidal Boss.

      How DO we live anywhere on purpose. Ugh.

  3. And all that nonsense could have just been summed up by saying "How To Live Anywhere On Purpose"

  4. Portland is still the new Portland :(