The read life

I read too much as a kid. In eighth grade, I read a book a day. Every morning, before class, I would stop by the library to ask Mrs. Steelman for a new book. She would try out new arrivals on me, or offer old classics. I would take the book home that night and stay up long past light's out reading, inhaling the stories. The next day, I would make my return trip. The only book that took me longer than a day was Les Miserables. That took the better part of a week, and I didn't much care for it at 12 years old.

The strange thing about being a reader is that you start to live a life of shades, shadows of stories that aren't your own.  All of these tales worm their way into your experience, the long, blonde hair of an old friend found years later in a rarely worn sweater - misplaced, out of time, not of you or for you or by you. You assume you understand rage, or murder, or loneliness. Reading gives you access to the explanations without the lived experience, knowledge without sensuous truth.

And so, you leap into the world believing you know more. Believing you've already felt that body-tensing fear of loss, or that anxious fluttering that comes from leaving home.

I have traveled the world in my life, both lived and read. But it stuns me, at 33, how little I know to be true from my own heart.


I'M moving. As of this month, I've lived in my beautiful, odd, crooked-floored, cracked-walled, palatial old house for seven years - longer than I've ever lived anywhere in my entire life, at least contiguously (I spent seven childhood years in one home, but those were three- and four-year stints that bookended three years in a very foreign country). This apartment has seen me through two breakups and two sets of roommates, through graduate school and the most boring office job on earth, through an earthquake and someone else's descent into clinical depression, through 30 pounds gained (and 20 lost), through the worst winter I'd ever seen and the mildest that followed. I've listened to the sounds on the street, I've forgotten half of what I own in the basement and had the never-before enjoyed opportunity to peruse a past, lost to the floods of a New England snow and a rickety old house.

I know where everything is. I know how to fix things when they break. I know which sound is the bathroom door shutting, and which is the back bedroom door. I know that if you don't pull the small pin out of the water filter in the kitchen you'll get soaked by the spray. I know that the neighbors' dogs bark when I take out the trash bin, but not when either of my neighbors does. I know not to talk to the crazy guy across the street, or his wife, and to not act surprised when they end up in my backyard with their daughter, looking at God knows what.

My dog loves to go for walks in the woods by my house. After seven years, I can finally take the back roads, the alternate routes, can adjust my course depending on traffic without getting hopelessly lost. I tell people wistfully about Triple D's, the ultimate Boston bar that closed a few short months after I moved in, to be replaced by the shitty Alchemist's Lounge, which was ultimately replaced by my stand-in neighborhood bar Canary Square. The same woman has cut my hair for seven years, and I've heard her two girls grow up through the stories she tells. My vet has known my dog from hearty and hale to cancer-ridden, and it kills me that he won't be around for his passing.

No place has ever felt quite so much like home.


IN the books I read, the heroines would go off into the world - to college, to camp, to fight dragons, to defeat the bourgeoisie, whatever. And they would pine for home. They would pine for their lost loves, their secret glens, the views from their bedroom windows.

I can count the number of times I've been homesick in my life on one hand. The first I remember clearly came when I was 22 and living in Japan, the most foreign of the foreign places I'd been. It was practically a year-long meditation, me in a relationship I knew wouldn't last, in a country I couldn't love, surrounded by a language and a culture I couldn't hope to understand, a large, lost girl. I pined then. I yearned to hear a familiar word, smell the scent of a breaking spring morning in the New England woods or a summer barbecue or the cold ozone of a winter storm.

My first summer away from home, a month at sleepaway camp, I was seven years old. I was never homesick. I was thrilled, to be in a new place, to meet new people, to try new things. The next year I stayed away for two months.

I went to college at 17 and couldn't wait for everything to start. My parents moved to Egypt that October, and I was homesick that first Christmas, in a house I'd never seen in a country I barely knew without a friend to call. But I knew I was going HOME, back to college, back to my new life, my own life.

This move, at 33, feels more like that move to college I read about in books. I'm terrified. I can't bear to get rid of so many of my things, I can't imagine living in a tiny place in a city I don't know. I don't know what my daily life is going to look like - how am I going to do all of this without an anchor? I'm frankly terrified.


THIS is long and tortured. I'm at such a loss. But I'm going to publish it anyway, if only to get it out of my brain for a few short minutes.


more experimenting

now i'm just attempting some photo uploading. what a fun toy! this is me and my friend chantal a while back. i am, i believe, drunk in this picture.

look, i'm fancy and shiny!

you know, i get tired of typing. i type all day. i can barely write anything by hand anymore, and my typing is excellent (thank you, 11th grade electric typewriters and my delightful '50s-throwback-southern-belle teacher!), but still...it's tiring.

i also get tired of talking about my life.

NO! you know that's not true. i love talking about myself. that's why i'm so good at therapy.

but anyway, andrew has been using this marvellous "audioblogger" on the poop for polly blog, and i thought i'd give it a whirl. so here's me being profoundly boring.


this is an audio post - click to play


i am clearly in hiding

i forgot about this blog entirely until i had to comment on
andrew's blog and then voila i remembered! samandcheese! such a beautiful thing.

i'm not sure if i'm going to use this or not, as yet. we'll see.

anyway, hello! there you go.


and she emerges, fully grown

diaspora, embarking.