Sunday, August 26, 2007

first night in the new place

My contract at the old apartment technically ended on Wednesday, but Claire and I were able to stay there a few extra nights because the new tenants had not yet moved in. But every day that we stayed it felt a little weirder, because all of our stuff was packed and we were living out of suitcases, the place looked empty and felt suddenly strange. As hard as it is to admit it, that place is no longer our home. So we decided to stay at my new apartment tonight.

I am sitting on a chair that sort of feels like it might fall apart, in front of a table that seems to enjoy swaying as well. To my left is the linoleum-floored kitchen with dark wood cabinets and a microwave that is so old it has knobs, including one for setting the temperature. Claire says that the apartment looks and feels very eighties; I think I will call it vintage. Most of my belongings are piled up in the living room, where there is a fireplace that the landlords do not guarantee will work (seriously, that is in my contract), and on the wall opposite where I sit, a sliding glass door that does not really slide but rather prefers to stay put, opens, with some effort, onto a little balcony where we will probably rig up a hammock or two (between the two of us we own five). The view from the balcony, and from all the windows on that side of the apartment, is largely populated by the foliage of three or four cottonwood trees, and if you peer between the leaves you can glimpse the Wasatch mountains, which take on a lovely alpenglow at dusk.

The house I grew up in backs up to a wooded lot, and in the summer it is so thick with green growth that you cannot even see the houses on the next street over, and you almost forget that it is not an unexplored wilderness. I have always felt an affinity for my chlorophyll-bearing neighbors, and I cannot help but feel a bit disappointed by the relative lack of greenness here in Utah. Don't get me wrong, the landscape here truly is awe-inspiring, and whenever I leave I find it difficult to adjust to the absence of the mountains, but all the same, since I moved here I have felt a certain emptiness where for my first eighteen years I had found a panoramic view of green trees just outside my back door. Needless to say, it was not with little joy that I found the trees outside my new apartment. Their presence should make this place feel a little bit like home, even if only one of the four toilets is working properly right now.

So we have a few maintenance issues to have taken care of. But Becky has given us an area rug to break up the ugly dark blue carpet, and Ikea is going to help us with the terribly inadequate lighting in place. And if nobody else moves in, we will get to have a library and a yoga room, both of which can double as guestrooms. There is a lot of furniture that we need to shuffle around, and of course I need to unpack the little mountain of stuff that I so carefully packed just a few days ago. We still need to move in the rest of Vanessa's stuff, and the walls are just screaming for something more visually stimulating than expanses of textured off-white paint. So there is a lot to do to make this place start feeling like a home. I know that it will take some time to get used to it; it will be very different from what I have known and come to take for granted during the past few years. But with some diligence and patience and a lot of faith, I think I will like it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

a new beginning

Well, here it is. In response to my mind’s pressing need for release, in memory of how much I enjoyed writing on my last blog, and encouraged by repeated requests by friends, I hereby inaugurate the new blog.

It seems an appropriate time to begin a new chapter. You see, I am moving. No expat leap, no cross-country haul, just over to the other side of town. But I have lived in the same apartment for nearly three years and, while I feel that it is time for a change and that it will do me good somehow or another, still the thought of leaving is a little hard to bear if not totally bewildering. The first few months after I moved in here appear in my memory as nothing more than a transition period, defined only by what preceded and followed it. The previous semester I had studied abroad in Spain, and when the transition semester ended, Claire moved in. We immediately became inseparable, and suddenly my apartment was not just a place where I ate and slept and kept my stuff. It was where I lived, and it began to feel like home. In many ways, Claire is the best friend I have ever had. And she is moving to Chicago next weekend. While that is hard to face and in a way makes the transition more difficult, it is also one of the reasons I am moving. I had gotten very used to living here and, for the most part, have been very comfortable calling it home. But I know that it just wouldn't feel like home without Claire.

So here's to a new home, both on the earth and in cyberspace. I have been thinking a lot about the idea of home, and I plan to write more about it. But Claire just got home and it is time for a round of Scrabble.