I’m not sure why this song came to mind as I was thinking about the days ahead. Packing up to move is always such an ordeal, so devoid of the organization that I would hope to have in the process. But it is, every time, an opportunity for renewal. I have moved more times than I care to think about over the past ten years, after having spent the previous years in relative immobility and security. Our family is not nomadic by nature, except for my parent’s years in the navy during WWII during which they relocated numerous times to accommodate my father’s changing duties. Otherwise, they found a home in California and it remained the center of our family life for 35 years. Only I have acquired this habit of changing where I live, moving to all the places I used to see from the backseat of the family car as we zoomed across Route 66 between California and Kentucky on our summer vacations.
There were four states in which I particularly didn’t want to live, and coming from California that could have included the entire country. There wasn’t anything that I could foresee that would entice me to leave the golden glow of my home state. Little did I know then that growing up means never saying never. Anyway, I didn’t like Arizona, mainly because it was the place where highway patrol perched along the roadsides looking for California license plates upon which to swoop and cite. Everyone knew that was the truth. Texas was definitely on the list. It was too vast, and flat…endless. And, it always rained in Amarillo. Oklahoma was like Texas, initially just a long, flat place that became another state to get past. I don’t know why Missouri and New Mexico weren’t on my list, but it’s probably just a child’s precocious nature to have a haphazard list that could easily have gone another way. But, I remembered it long into my adult years at about the time I was moving to the other state on the list: Kentucky.
I wanted to be in Kentucky so badly that it made me sad to wait for the move. California had become foreign to me. It was crowded and unfriendly, and brown. That was because I wasn’t living on the coast anymore, and the heat of the inland areas became unbearable as I waited for my escape to a region that suddenly held the intrigue of family history and a sense of belonging that never existed on the west coast. Having “roots” is a real thing, and it changes the way you relate to people in the region in which these family histories are embedded. For the first time in my life I was going to be living in a community in which I had relatives. That was a revelation to me.
So, there was one state on the list. Ironically, after a series of events that necessitated me needing a broader scope for employment, I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Again, it was on the list, and it seemed unbelievable that I was heading there. I used to say that I preferred the uncertainty of an earthquake to the waiting game you had to play with a tornado. You watch the weather for hours as those funnels move in towards you, and the blast of one of those sirens that tells you it’s coming your way is too eerie and creepy to describe accurately. And here I was heading for what they refer to as Tornado Alley. Good move.
And, in fairness, it had it’s positive aspects. But it wasn’t to last because the list wasn’t complete. My next stop: Arizona. Yep, the dreaded state with the highway patrol. I almost felt like a traitor, until I looked around and realized I was surrounded by California transplants. All of those people who moved to the triple digit temperatures of the desert to buy cheaper houses. And they came in droves, from all over the country. Unfortunately, all of those houses became expensive and the buying continued in a frenzy until the whole thing has, as the country knows, exploded into a nightmare of overextended mortgages and unemployment. Still, the struggle to appear “on top” and in the fast lane of success still remains here, as in other glitzy places (yes, there is actually glitz here).
I’m remaining in Arizona. There is a land up yonder in the hills that is a bit more palatable for me. My friend lives there, and it’s laid back and, once again, offers the potential to be an invigorating and inspiring place to live and work. I’m starting to put things in boxes in anticipation of the move, and as I do this there are also bags filling up for the Goodwill run that will surely take place. When push comes to shove (as in push it in and see if it fits) my life begins to pare down to the really important stuff. I don’t need all of the purses in the closet, nor will I take every little trinket that has found it’s way to my shelves. Even some of the books will be sent away, the ones that were good for just one read. And the biggest relief will come from cleaning my closet! Someone may gain an entire wardrobe from what will surely end up in the bags bound for the thrift stores.
I don’t know if it’s really packing up “care and woe”, as the song says. But the idea that, every once in a while, I get to start again or, as a friend calls it, have a “do over”, is really a good thing. I’m single, and my friends remain regardless of the many miles and years that we have each logged. The next love of my life may be waiting for me, and my artistic crescendo may be on it’s way. If life is a journey, then the travel can’t be a bad thing. And, going to a smaller town may be just the thing to make my world a little bigger.
The journey continues…I haven’t lived in Texas yet.