The boxes are starting to pile up - even though I've barely begun and there's still a way to go until things are completely dismantled - but things ARE being dismantled.
When I moved to COTU, I knew it was a temporary thing. Once TGFKAS and I decided to split in March of '06, I wanted to get out of the place we'd shared as soon as possible (not that things were miserable, but once you've decided to split, why stick around longer than you have to?) and LMD offered to have me come stay in her home for a while as I sorted things out.
We'd been friends for years, but there's a big difference between being friends (no matter how dear) and sharing space with them - particularly at our ages; I figured it would be a month - maybe two - while I looked for my own place without the big time pressure. But within no time (really, it couldn't have been more than two weeks after i'd moved in) LMD was saying: You're not leaving; you're never leaving.
We got on so well it was almost magic. We hung out together and gave each other space. During the summer, we'd come home to COTU after work, throw some dinner together, light candles and sit out on the back deck talking and laughing until someone yawned and we remembered that there was work again the next day. A consultant friend of ours from Connecticut came to stay with us a couple of times/month when he was working on a project nearby and on those nights we'd stay up even later. On the weekends we'd often have a friend or two over and suddenly it would be a party. Even when LMD started seeing someone late in the summer, he slipped into the rhythm of COTU seamlessly. The winter came and there were fires in the fireplace, long weekend days cooking and hanging at home. Sometimes she and I would be busy with work and life and a stretch would go by where we'd barely see each other. But then we'd get a night together and catch up and get that wonderful girlfriend perspective on whatever was going on in each other's life.
At various times we've both said we couldn't imagine how it could have turned out better. We were both going through some personal and professional changes during this time, and living together - sharing support, perspective and laughs - was invaluable as we weaved our way through it all.
And we had no conflicts. None. Really. We DID joke about the differences in our decorating styles: she decorates (and these are her words, not mine) in "Old Italian Grandma," and even though most of my stuff is in storage, my corner of the house (and the additions that i've brought to the main part of the home) look like (in her words again) "IKEA/Pottery Barn/plants and candles." But decorating styles aside, we made an incredibly comfortable home together.
And still, we knew it couldn't be permanent; COTU was her home, and eventually I'd want more of my own space, but the situation was so wonderful and we got on so well that neither of us was in a hurry to change it. We fantasized about having me buy the home next to hers (COTU's a duplex) and breaking the wall down between the dining rooms, expanding the deck and having the best of both worlds. Barring that possibility, we were going to enjoy our grown-up's "college dorm" for as long as we could.
Then, recently, a friend tossed out the idea of having me live in his soon-to-be-vacated house (he was moving) for a year while he waited out the sluggish NJ housing market. My first reaction was to say no. His house is lovely, and it was tempting, but I just couldn't imagine why I'd want to do that. Hadn't I moved enough in the last 5 years? Why would I move, only to move again once the house was sold next year? (even if it didn't sell right away ...) Besides, the organization I work for is going to be relocating early next year; I figured I'd stay with LMD at COTU until then, and then I'd draw my little 'acceptable driving radius' on a map and start looking for my own place. Nah ... I was going to stay put.
But then a little voice started rising in me saying: You can't turn this down; you've got to do it. And while I could easily argue for both sides of the "do it"/"don't do it" debate, I just couldn't bring myself to pack and move again ... even if it was a great house and a sweet deal and it would help a friend and I would get all that luscious personal space - nope, things were great w/LMD. I was staying put.
But damn that little voice, it keep tapping at my brain. I tried to ignore it, but I knew what it was capable of - it had gotten me to move once before. And a bigger distance than this.
I'd been living in the Bay Area about 3 1/2 years when it started ... this little voice (ok, so not really a 'voice,' more like an intuition ...) nudging me ... making me look east and suggesting I might want to move back to NJ. The thought made no sense, so I ignored it. I loved my life in California; I had a great job, great friends, a side business that was growing, weather I LOVED ... why would I want to move? No way I was going back to New Jersey.
But the nudging wouldn't go away. I kept ignoring it, but it kept coming back and coming back, and eventually it didn't even feel like a choice anymore - it felt like an internal directive. Call me batty (and some do), but I began to think that something bigger was calling and I had to listen. And act. It pissed me off in the biggest way, but still I did it.
Sold a lot of my stuff, left my job, my friends, my life, the growing biz, my beloved beach, the greatest massage therapist and Thai food ever, and drove back across the country again. Every now and then, as more and more miles came between me and the Bay Area, I'd think: What the hell am I doing?
Then, just a little more than a year after I'd settled back in NJ, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; she died 10 months after that. During those 10 months, I lived within easy driving distance from her; not a 5 1/2 hour plane ride away. Thanks little voice.
But when the recent You should do this stuff started bubbling up around my friend's house, I tried to look the other way again. Move? Uh uh. Not doing it. Just did it a year ago. And I'd only been living with TGFKAS for a year and a half before that; it doesn't make any sense. (you should do it - the space is going to be good for you) Shut up shut up shut up I've moved enough in the last 5 years; I'm staying here until the office relocates. (you should do it) I'm not moving this spring and again next spring. I'm staying put. (you really should do it)
I'd put my figurative fingers in my psychic ears: Nahnahnahnah; I'm not listening; I'm not listening! (come on deb ... you NEED to do this ...)
(damn, damn, DAMN!)
And so (whad'ya know), I'm moving. It seems the universe has another plan for me (again). (damn it)
Having said all that, it's not like I'm doing this out of duress; my friend's house is beautiful and charming and warm; it's positively lovely. It also gets me WAY closer to the Beaners (10 minutes away), and 15 miles closer to my job; it's a walk to the NYC train ... it's got TONS going for it. It also has space - something I haven't had to myself for quite a while - and I'm looking forward to reacquainting myself with all the stuff I've been keeping in storage and decorating in my "IKEA/Pottery Barn/plants and candles" way once again. (and yes, i really DO decorate like that ...)
But I hate pulling up stakes again ... unsettling what's settled. And I'm going to miss LMD like crazy. Ever since I made the decision, we've been bracing ourselves, and in the mornings when we get our coffee and move into our days I know we're both trying not to think about what it's going to be like when we don't have that anymore ... it's going to be hard for me to say good-bye to our happy little home here at the Center of the Universe. Yes, we'll still see each other and yes, we'll still hang out; but it won't be the same.
The other day she told me: You could change your mind; you could still stay. But I can't; this feels bigger than logic somehow. I think it has something to do with the something that's coming that I talked about a while back and I feel like I just have to go along for the ride. LMD tells me she admires the way I listen to my intuition and don't shy away from the opportunities and challenges it often leads me to, and I know it's one of my strengths. I just wish it didn't involve pulling up stakes and relocating as often as it has in the last decade. Sometime I wonder if I'll ever get to settle down again. I hope so; I know I'd like to. I just know it's not today. Not yet.
On the road again.