Moving Day: You Can Never Go Home Again

Monday, September 8, 2014 | 1 Comment(s)

I said goodbye to my latest residence last week (pictured).  I'm leaving Amherst after the better part of a decade.  Sure, I'm only moving about 40 minutes away, but the move is as symbolic as it is structural. 

I Got 99 Problems and the Neighbors are 3 of Them
This town has been a time of transformation for me.  I got engaged, became a doctor, got a second puppy, and got married in this house.  Those are some major milestones.  Amherst is the first place I've really settled since living at home with my parents.

Amherst was also my first attempt at community.  If I was gonna stay put, I figured, I might as well seek out the benefits of being a relatively big fish in a relatively small pond.  One thing I learned from this swimming expedition is that small ponds have relatively few warm pockets, and therefore the fish all tend to huddle in those areas.  And that destination-based socialization, is a form of community.  A shared love of particular establishments and the safety, comfort, and ambiance they provide.  Like a shared homestead for you and your friends, a coffee shop can become a living room, and a bar a dining room. 

I found happiness inside these established parameters.  I knew all the faces, I've felt the love shared between barstools, and I still always smile inwardly when I hear one of my nicknames echoing off the concrete sidewalks of Main Street.  I may even have been called a "townie" a few times.

So why move now?  Why lug 8 years worth of sediment and sentiment into the overgrowth of Easthampton where the residential spaces are so spread out I can't even pick up any of my neighbors' Wifi networks?  It's certainly not for the coffee (not sure Easthampton even has a solid coffee shop yet).

The major difference, simultaneous to the transformation in me, is that now we live in the land of making a date to get coffee, instead of just meeting at the cafe and hoping to see such and such a person.  My wife and I have begun the process of making a community actively instead of being part of one passively. 

Don't get me wrong here; passive community is all the rage.  For singles looking to mingle, often they aren't trying to meet up with any one person, but rather they go out in hopes of finding some strange(rs) to acquaint themselves with.  If you don't believe me, ask some hipsters.  I guarantee they'll be able to tell you which bar they head to when they want to see their friends.  Rarely, however, have I found that they can also tell you who they are going to see. Specifically.  

Personally speaking, I'm sick of the passive in my life.  I'm tired of waiting for something to happen where I'm at, and I'm ready to make something happen wherever I am.  I'm tired of this "set a time and place and I'll see if I can make it." That's just the grown-up equivalent of college's, "I'd love to hang out if I don't hear of anything better to do before then." It's like continuing to date someone who is just not that into you . . . and then wondering why he or she never calls. 

And so as I swept up the warren of dust-bunnies left without a den, and vacuumed away all the traces of where I began my married life, I know I'll look back wistfully. I'll think back and remember the dinners we ate at that lift-top coffee table, and the winter when it rained branches down upon us.  I'll recall our new love and my first backyard.  

My parents still talk so enthusiastically about their first house together in Bethesda, Maryland (and their last house without kids), it is as if the structure itself embodies the carefree devil-may-care lifestyle they imagine life might have been like without kids.  I can see myself looking back at this house and feeling the same way.

But now is not the time to look back, we are to busy with forging ahead.

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