Yanking Up Roots

I’m sitting here tonight with a cup of ginger tea and a large envelope holding the last lease I will be signing for this apartment.

I’ve been in the same apartment for eight years – it will be nine by the time the lease is up, closer to nine and a half. And this is my third apartment in this complex, so when it is all said and done, I will have lived here for almost twelve years. I think that might be the longest I have ever lived in more or less one place in my entire life.

I’m a Navy brat whose family already moved around a lot by the time Dad enlisted. I’ve always had a bent for exploring, so after I left home, I moved around some more. I always hated the act of moving itself, but I like being in new places. There is an exhilaration, to me, in seeing the new apartment or room in a house that’s not yours yet, but will be. A blank slate that you’re going to turn into your home-for-the-moment. It’s the great thing about moving around, a new home-for-the-moment every few years.

(also not having to mow a lawn or do your own maintenance, etc…listen, it is difficult enough for me to vacuum my own carpet, okay)

But I have been in this apartment for a long time by my standards. And I needed it, I think. I needed a big and light apartment in the nice quiet suburbs, space and time to think and sort myself out. To finish up the healing process from all the trauma of the early-to-mid 2000s. To be alone and figure out who I was while I experimented with growing plants, learning how to cook better, collecting pretty rocks, writing books, taking up new hobbies.

I admit that part of the reason I won’t sign another lease here is that they’re finally going to price me out of my comfort zone. I am, despite most indications, sometimes a practical person. I want to travel more, get a new couch, pay off my credit cards.

At the same time…I am not the same person I was when I moved into this apartment. I am marginally less of a disaster. I am indisputably more social. And living in the ‘burbs, I am isolated.

My married with children friends have lives of their own, lives that have grown ever more busy as the children themselves grow. Movie nights and cooking sprees just don’t happen anymore, there’s no time, and when there is, our schedules hardly ever seem to overlap. They have houses, and with those, responsibilities that I simply don’t have. They have interests that I don’t. That’s life, this is what happens. I miss them, but I can’t put responsibility on other people to keep me occupied and entertained all the time!

So I find other ways to be social and hang out, but…that does not happen here in the ‘burbs. The ‘burbs are not for social butterfly singles. Cities are. Which means I am spending more time in Dallas than in the ‘burbs, putting miles and miles on my poor little elderly Nissan.

I’ve resisted moving into Dallas. It’s too big, I kept saying. too expensive. Driving is too awful an experience there. It’s noisy and there’s crime and I don’t know anyone.

Except now, I do know people. I have my trivia group and my book club and my casual drag acquaintances. I’ve gotten used to driving, and anyway, public transportation is a thing in Dallas! There are buses and trains!

Crime? Noise? Expense? Still factors, I guess.

But as far as crime goes…that’s any city, anywhere. Anything can happen; for heaven’s sake a car drove into my suburban bedroom eight years ago. Money is…always a concern, I guess, but I can find a perfectly reasonable place to live that’s within my comfort zone. Noise? I live with a Siamese and I use a white noise setup and Advil PM to get to sleep most nights anyway. And god, I used to live across the street from an airport. An airport. 

I’ve allowed fear and a dread of having to pack up my stuff to keep me in this place. It took getting that rent hike to make me sit down and really think about what I was doing here, still.

I have never been one to really enjoy putting down roots, much to everyone’s consternation. “What’s wrong with roots?” they ask. “What’s so bad about settling down?”

What’s wrong with wanting to explore? To be free to wander? I’m single and have no children. I’m not going to find anyone to change that – if I even want to change that, at this point – unless I widen my scope and look around. And what if I never find anyone who makes me want to settle down? Why should I? I’ve hardly seen anything of the cities I live between, let alone the world!

I do not understand people who want to live in one place, who are willing to buy homes and condos and townhomes. I truly don’t get it, but more power to them. They see a freedom in all of that, that I simply…don’t. There is more out there for me to see, and I think even in the midst of all the time that was hopeless and dark, I always knew that.

So I have been here for eight-going-on-nine years, and I needed that, but now I am surrounded by a lot of stuff and it feels an awful lot like being tied down. And so much of it, a truly astonishing amount of it, is stuff I have been carrying from apartment to apartment for over twenty years. What the fresh hell. I literally have the baggage of my past with me and I am voluntarily hauling it from one closet to another and never doing anything with it.

So. I have a new lease to sign – fifteen more months here. Fifteen more months to resume the decluttering I started in 2016 but have only kind of half-assedly made stabs at. To get rid of the ancient TV I never watch that was a gift from one ex, that’s sitting on a TV stand given to me by another ex. To get rid of all the clothes that don’t fit me anymore or that I just don’t want to wear. To seriously and ruthlessly clear out a big chunk of my nail polish collection that’s just gathering dust. I’ve got pots and pans and books and toys and just junk everywhere, stuff I simply do not need. I have always loved minimalism, yet I keep collecting and hoarding, and boy howdy has that ever got to stop.

I mean let’s be real, yes, I can find a perfectly reasonable place to live in Dallas, but it is kind of going to be the size of a shoebox.

And I still harbor some vague dream of moving to Norway one day, or Sweden, and I wouldn’t be able to take a whole lot of stuff overseas if ever I managed that. Maybe it is a pipe dream, but it’s the pipe dream that’s keeping me even the tiniest bit semi-focused on clearing out the extra stuff.

So that’s where I am. With my last lease in the ‘burbs ready to be signed and turned in. With months ahead of me of decluttering and saving money to hire movers and, oh, right, actually finding an apartment in Dallas.

I’ve been making so many changes  this year, what’s one more?

I’m just putting this here because everyone loves a good cat photo.

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