I’ve been back in Maryland for just shy of eight years now. I find that incredibly hard to believe, but it’s beside the point as far as this little tale goes. The only reason I mention it is that as of today, just shy of eight years on, I’m now occupying the 9th separate cubicle I’ve been assigned to since arriving back.
When I think of the manpower that’s gone into not just physically rearranging the deck chairs but also time allocated to “strategizing” the move and selling each one of them as a value added proposition, all I can do is shake my head and wonder at how we’ve managed to win America’s independence, put down a rebellion, conquer a continent, deliver victory in two world wars, and stay in “business” over the last 200+ years. Surely this isn’t the way we actually do things. I know better, though. Of course it is. This is exactly how we do things. It’s situation normal.
And here’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for – or at least the moment I’ve been waiting for – the last post (probably) from the house I’ve been renting for the last four years. I moved in basically sigh unseen. My furniture was about 24 hours behind me and it met all the major criteria. Basically it was available immediately and it had a fence. If I had to describe it in a word, I’d say the house as been “serviceable.” I’ve had my troubles with the place, but it’s been a good enough roof over my head and I’m sure next week when I drive past it I’ll look at it a little more fondly that it probably deserves. Sitting here now with boxes piled on every flat surface is not exactly bittersweet – I’m enormously pleased to be leaving – but there have definitely been a few moments of nostalgia this morning. There won’t be time for that tomorrow.
If I’m honest I’m still finding it a little hard to believe I’m a homeowner again. The reality hasn’t quite sunk in yet, although it got a little more real yesterday when two trucks and a trailer’s worth of “stuff” were deposited. George the Russian Tortoise has even taken up residence already so I’ll make at least one trip down this afternoon there to see how he made it through the night. I know it will feel a lot more like mine tomorrow evening when the furniture is basically in place and the dogs are threatening to trip me at every turn. At the moment, even with a few of my odds and ends there, it still feels like a big empty house – someone else’s big empty house. I keep expecting the old owner to wander down the hall and ask what the hell I’m doing in his house.
It feels a little like I’ve been in some stage of moving since I pulled up stakes in Memphis. In fact there are still boxes taped shut from that move that will get loaded on the truck tomorrow. That probably explains a bit about why I’ve never felt entirely settled here. We’re about to resolve that issue… and I can’t wait to get this all behind me so I can get out of a “moving” mode and into a “living” mode.
I’ve had nine months to think about what this post would look like, but surprisingly it’s not one that I started working on in advance. Now that the day of jubilee has arrived, I find myself at something of a loss for words. How do I sum up the experience that has been finding my eject handle? Is it defined by the statistics? 273 days on the hunt. 91 days of frozen time. 385 resumes submitted. Sometimes I felt like I could count off the hours of each one of those days. Almost a year of complete confidence tempered by false starts and rejections. And then moments of unadulterated joy. Whatever the moment is, it’s not defined by the statistics.
I’m feeling very conscious of those who made the jump before I have. Of how much I miss them and how much I’ll miss a few of those I’ll leave behind. I’m conscious now more than ever of home, of family, and of friends from whom I’ve been too long separated. They say you can’t go home again. I’ve been away long enough to know that everything has changed – and that nothing that matters has really changed. I’m coming home and I’ll take it as I find it, changes and all.
There is plenty of time to go into specifics later. For now, let it suffice to know that tonight I will sleep the sleep of the vindicated. My great experiment in Memphis is drawing to an end. I’ve survived my ride on the crazy train. And I’m coming home.
When I sat down to write, I thought this post would be a valedictory. It seems my nerves are still too raw for that kind of triumphalism. Give me a day or two for the reality to sink in, though, and it’s a fair bet that you’ll be reading posts with some serious swagger.