Got to get out.
Gotta leave this place
Gotta find some place–
some other place
some brand new place
some place where each face
that I see won’t be starin’
back at me tellin’ me what to be
and how to be it…
This song, belted out by Barbra Streisand on her second album, has accompanied me on upwards of 25 moves in a lifetime of searching for the elusive perfect domicile (one friend calls them “lateral moves”). I long ago learned that you take yourself wherever you go, yet even this painful lesson did not entirely abolish my need to keep moving. It did slow me down: I stayed in my last apartment nearly six years, a record – and I hated that place more than anywhere I’d previously lived. In fact, it’s probably the only apartment to ever defeat me: I have a facility with prettying up places, no matter how dumpy they are to begin with. My last apartment, though, must’ve seen so much misery it was embedded in the shit-colored industrial carpeting and clung to stained kitchen counters that, no matter how much bleach I used, were never entirely clean. Gotta Move has been running around my head for years.
The new place is bright and airy, with hardwood floors and spotless, shiny kitchen tiles, and the rent is actually less than the abovementioned hellhole. Of course, I’m slowly discovering this one’s drawbacks, primarily the busy street life below my second-story window. We’ve got kids who play outside until dark, roller skaters, basketball hoopsters. We’ve got men working on their cars, and a couple of motorcycles that come and go with booming regularity. And we’ve got a dog who is not long for this world if I have any say in the matter. I just keep telling myself I’ve moved to a more urban environment, that I’ll get used to it.
Even if I hadn’t hated my last apartment, I would have moved. I get restless and bored, and moving is a chance for the adventures I’m not rich enough to finance through travel. Plus, given that both my profession and my personality keep me home most of the time, I burn out on my living quarters pretty fast.
Even when I was raising my kids I moved around a lot, for which I carry a hefty load of motherguilt. Once, sitting with Stacy on the back of a U-Haul on West 72nd Street in New York, waiting for my boyfriend Kenny and the moving man to bring down more furniture, Stacy suddenly announced, with four-year-old conviction, “I can’t wait till I grow up so I don’t have to live with nobody!” Still breaks my heart.
Then again, I honestly believed it was good for kids to have new experiences, to discover new ways of living and different kinds of places to live. Now that the chips are in, I can’t say I was right or wrong; all I know is, I’m a nomad, a runner, a girl who needs change on a regular basis or I stagnate. Maybe I just made up that child-rearing theory to accommodate my own desires.
In the midst of the move I turned 64, that magical iconic age when I’m supposed to “knit a sweater by the fireside/Sunday mornings go for a ride.” Instead, I was schlepping possessions from one place to another, wishing I had none, handing stuff off to anyone who’d take it (I gave away over 100 books this move, and a gigantic bookcase. So guess what? I still have too many books and now I need another bookcase to accommodate them.)
The older I get the harder it is to move, and a week later I’m still totally exhausted. I wonder about the women my age who have such busy productive lives, for instance, Hilary. Where does she get the energy to jet around the world meeting with heads of state and deciding the fate of the little people of the world? How does she keep up with everything she has to do for her job? I get tired when I go out to dinner. How does Ruth Bader Ginsburg dole out justice all day every day? I cannot imagine how these ladies do it. They put me to shame.
Not that I know what Hilary’s up to these days; I was disconnected from the Internet for a week, and too involved in stuff like where to put my unwanted, unneeded stereo. The one current event I couldn’t avoid, of course, was passage of the health care bill, about which there is just too much to say. Dennis Kucinich was a surprise – he’s a far better sport than I, and was probably right to cave in and vote for a bill that might benefit insurance companies more than people. He did it for the broader cause. What a guy.
But enough about the world. My adventures consume me.
Comcast pulled a fast one; I’m furious. Fed up with their outrageous fees and rip-off policies, I downgraded to Basic awhile ago. When, a few months later, I bought a flat-screen television, I discovered it was so powerful, it pulled in stations from distant planets. I had just enough time, before the move, to get addicted to Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker. When Cable Guy came to hook me up at the new place, he swore he wouldn’t report my freebie service — but two days later all I got, after the basic drek, was a darkened screen and the words “Scrambled Video.”
Why is this okay? Why is it okay for Comcast to scramble signals that my high-powered TV set picks up? I’m serious. Does Comcast own the airways? I always thought they were in the public domain. This is seriously fucked, and I’m wondering if there’s anything to be done about it. If anyone has a clue, please, please let me know.
No Comment Department:
Finally: While I was preoccupied, two new laws were enacted in the great state of California. You’ll be glad to know that from here on in you’re allowed to tote a gun anywhere you like within the public parks system – but don’t you dare light up a deadly cigarette.