16 July 2009

Taking Shape

I've been thinking a lot lately about moving, mostly since we'll probably have to do it again next year, and also because of the wedding last weekend. There are all these factors, things that don't really feel like they go together, but they do; they fit at awkward angles, jutting out, like a puzzle with no edges. So that's how this post will be too, a series of pieces with only a tenuous thread of recent thoughts and occurrences holding them together.

I moved a lot as a kid, always for different reasons: jobs, schools, neighborhoods, family. Maybe this has made me restless, I don't know. It's one of those facts of the past that is neither here nor there, one of those things that made you who you are and that you couldn't change even if you wanted to so there's just nothing to be done. I remember liking the new houses, exploring the best hide-outs and reading spots. I remember how moving made my Powell House friends that much more important to me, even though my parents had to drive me hours to visit them.

The ceremony this past weekend was held in the backyard of Elizabeth's parent's house. It was beautiful, everything done up just right - simple, elegant - for the wedding. A few of us stayed down the street at Tanya's parent's house. Both families have been in those two homes for longer than I've known them: since Liz and Tanya were babies, before that even. What would that be like - to have a place you can go that is overflowing with memories, a place in which you are more fully yourself than anywhere else in the world?

Of course I am fully capable of romanticizing the opposite, moving from place to place, never getting tied down, bringing the family you love with you wherever you go.

If I move again, for more school, we'll have to move again after that, too. In a field as competitive as academia, that's just what you do. And when you have these other people, these awesome kids, this great partner, who will just go with you - the partner because he's supportive and generous, the children because they have no choice - is both freeing and impossible. How can I ask myself what I want when the answer will affect so many lives?

There are people, some of whom I adore, who have a kind of knowing, a self-assured certainty about the way things could and should be. They seem to operate with this projected ideal in mind and in so doing they create for themselves a world in which the imagined reality becomes the actual reality. Of course it's more complicated, I know that, but I can't help wondering what it would be like to just know: to know what I wanted, to know who I wanted, to know where I wanted to be, or to end up, or any of that. I don't.

I move forward because I can't make time stop. My children grow older, more beautiful, smarter every day. My relationship shifts, changes, falters and strengthens, depending. My home remains miles away, waiting for me, and still I move forward: I fill out forms and send submissions; I write academic papers that I almost believe in; I read novels and love them; or I read novels and wonder why anyone ever thought they were worth publishing; I make lists and plans and diagrams; I think and talk and write down the future, I sketch it, I dream it. I think that soon - I hope soon - the jumble of pieces will begin to separate, I think that soon I will be able to see how they fit, and then, when I can see them all, when I've collected them all, I will put them in an order, in a shape that forms a path.

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