In January of 2014 I moved from New York City to Florence, Italy.
In the almost four years since then I’ve ping-ponged from Florence, back to New York, and to Florence again. Southeast Asia was next, then Massachusetts, Tanzania after that, Massachusetts once again and now, finally, with whatever degree of semi-permanence I am capable of, I have moved to New Orleans.
Did you get all that? That’s eight moves in less than four years.
I suppose that would make me somewhat of a transient thing. But what can I say? I’ve got a wandering eye and an insatiable desire to see every bit of this place. And even with all of its challenges, I love the way I live. In fact, I don’t really remember how to live if I’m not scaling the highest walls of my comfort zone and throwing myself right the hell off of them. I try to think back to the time when I never left the confines of that place and all I can seem to remember is that I might as well have been asleep. So I, (almost) without exception, wouldn’t change a thing about the way I conduct my migrational lifestyle.
Now notice, I did say almost. There is one exception:
I wouldn’t change a thing about the way I conduct my migrational lifestyle *except*, I’m really fucking bad at moving.
My method for moving in and of itself is fine. What I mean is, it works for me. Planning and mapping aren’t exactly in my wheelhouse, so I take more of a ‘leap before you look’ approach. That generally winds up looking something like this: Me and a mess of clothes, strewn for an extended period of time across a bare mattress in a generous friend’s spare bedroom. And while that’s not the most glamorous manifestation of vagrancy, in my experience it’s the most probable outcome when you move on impulse. (And impulse moves are highly effective in getting you where you want to go as you never have time to come up with reasons why you shouldn’t. Remember that. Time will almost always just get in your way)
So if I’ve got my moving method down and I can’t live without these trysts, what exactly is the problem?
Man, it’s those goddamn post-move blues.
Do you know them? If you do, you know they’re poo-poo-trash. And if you don’t, this may sound like a pretty unsympathetic problem to have. “Poor me, moving to cool cities and getting sad in them.”
It’s probably hard to imagine that a fresh start in an exciting new place and would go hand in hand with a crippling case of anxiety. That as eager as you are to get out there and make friends, you are, in equal part, too overwhelmed to pull your ass off your couch. But imagine you’ve spent all your money. You have no job, no place to live and no friends to binge drink away the stress of it all with.
And you cry to your mom and your boyfriend and your best friend and nothing they say makes you feel any better because you’re alone here. And you daydream of the places that you have made to feel like home in the past, because this one sure as hell doesn’t. And you start to wonder, why the fuck did you come? You can’t seem to remember. But you came. And you had your reasons for coming, as foreign as they seem to you now. But at this point you know enough about moving to recognize that you don’t stand a chance of figuring out what led you here if you don’t get your shit together. So you get to it.
First you need a job. So you grind until you find one. Or two, or three. Fuck, you’ll dance on a bar in fishnet tights to Def Leppard if you have to. As long as you save up enough for an apartment. Because that’s step two. So once you have your money and you find a place, you build a home. One that will be the perfect setting for creating or growing or dancing or fucking or reading or painting or whatever it is that you came here for. And you work and you build and you work and you build and you’re so damn tired. Why did you come here again? It’s so much effort and no reward.
And then one day, you find you have thirty minutes to yourself where you don’t have to run to work or build your home, and so you take a walk down the street. And it’s sunny in mid-november and there’s warm breeze but the magnolias still smell distinctly like fall. And you smirk as you look down at your feet because you know the cobblestone sidewalks want to break your ankles, the beautiful bastards. And people are laughing, drinking a beer at one in the afternoon. And you don’t know it yet but you’re about to have the best coffee you’ve had in a month. And you start to realize how beautiful this place really is. So you start making plans in your head. Lists of all the things you want to do here. Things that will move you, change you, make you feel something. And there’s so much! How will you ever find the time? And then you remember that, hey, there’s no rush.
You live here now.
And just like that, for the first time that sentence sounds really, really good. And just like that, your blues have changed to yellows and reds and greens and purples.