The correspondence of Apartment 5402 in exile


November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
May 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

no loitering allowed.

Yo homies,

As you all know, I will be leaving the country in week and a half, to take an extended trip to the other side of the planet. It is quite possible that if you add up all the hours I have spent obsessing about this trip, I will have spent more time planning it than I will actually spend taking it, but I refuse to consider this a waste. It's like having a crush on someone from afar; you may spend more time daydreaming about them (in sosc class...) than you do actually enjoying their company, but ultimately, isn't daydreaming half the fun of having a crush? The reality may also be amazing, but the expectation is certainly worth something too. I'm not quite sure where this point is going, but you're catching my drift, right?

So anyway, our next topic here is vagrancy, and what it means that most of us move every couple years, only to live with random people we met through Craigslist when we get to our next destination. First off, vagrancy is not a word I would use; only someone with a seriously parochial outlook (ahem, Rita) would consider any of our lives to be vagrant. We do not wander idly, we migrate purposefully - for jobs, or education, or relationships, or with the not-unrealistic expectation of attaining these things.

Second of all, for a long time I assumed that relocation was a strictly modern phenomenon; just one by-product of multi-national corporations, specialization of labor and improved modes of communication and transit. (Old people always seemed to like staying in place, too, and that supported my conclusion.) I've changed my mind, though, because it seems to me that, while for most of human history the vast majority of people never ventured farther than the next village, as a species, we like to move around. No one would ever have made it to Australia, or Siberia, if this weren't the case. The history of the United States (colonization, manifest destiny, etc) also proves that point quite nicely. Moving from Chicago to New York or LA to Dubai in the 21st century presents a whole different set of challenges than what, say, Pizarro faced, but the goal is basically the same (better opportunities, Inca gold, etc). Whatever you want to call it - relocation, exploration, migration - moving around has always held a certain appeal.

In fact, I am automatically wary of people who have lived in the same place their entire life. Have they no sense of adventure? Even if you live in the best place on earth (New York, obvi) you must at least be curious about what it's like to live in, I don't know, Philadelphia or Hackensack or wherever. After all, if Adam and Eve hadn't been exiled from the Garden, how would they have known what they were missing? Or what they wanted? Living in paradise must have been boring! If Dante hadn't been exiled from Florence, would he have written The Divine Comedy? And where would we be if Shakespeare had never left Stratford, or Chaucer had never taken a pilgrimage? Machiavelli (who spent a great deal of time traveling, and was himself exiled from Florence) once wrote that the easiest route to heaven was to learn the road to hell in order to avoid it, and I happen to think that makes a lot of sense. How will you know where heaven is, if you never look around? In short: like failure and regret, a little vagrancy can be a good thing.

That said, moving around is hard. I've lived more places than most people, but I've either moved for school or with my family, and even that was hard. Building a social network from scratch takes eons, and can be quite painful, and often the allure of moving to Austin/Sydney/Rome is not enough to entice one to give up the comfort of friends and family. I would, however, be game for moving to Austin/Sydney/Rome if I had a job there, or friends, or really any reason at all. Why would this be a bad idea? As newly minted adults, we are free to explore! No longer tied to our parents, and not yet tethered by our children, there is no better time to move places and live with strangers. We are just beginning to build social networks and create spaces for ourselves in society - new places and strangers are part of this process, and those who move around may end up richer in both friends and experiences in the long run. Case in point: I am coming down to DC on Saturday, to see two of you, and while I'm there we have plans to meet each others friends and mingle. Cross-pollination! Exciting!

Hugs and bunnies and daisies,

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A Christmas Letter from the 5402, ctd.

Dear Internets,

Becky spent the end of 2008 and the early days of 2009 in a catatonic state on her couch alternately watching hundreds of clips of General Hospital from the late 90s on youtube and catnapping. Fortunately, she has since snapped out of it and is now able to report to you on the year that was 2008.

It all started out in the craptastic town of Ware, Massachusetts, from which Becky was commuting 40 minutes to work each way. The neighbors screamed at each other in the street in the middle of the night, and it was a 40 minute drive to see a movie, but there were four liquor stores within walking distance of their apartment. Fortunately, Michelle saw fit to quit her job and in June she and Becky moved to "town" aka Northampton. Their apartment there is quite nice and since they brought their new couch in through a second-story window they will probably never be able to leave.

Over the course of the summer, Becky and Michelle were obligated to attend three weddings, and decided that what the hell, they might as well get married too. Dates were set, parents were told, and there was much crying and asking for money. Good thing they don't live in California. Becky ceded creative control to Michelle and continues to this very day to refuse to even think about what she will wear.

Autumn of 2008 brought alarminly loud squealing from Becky's car, continued wishy-washiness on the subject of law school, an outbreak of acne on the cat's chin, and a brief and hateful relationship with the Twilight saga. 2009 promises to be chock full of nuptual planning, continued avoidance of the LSATs, and being maimed daily while washing Beatrice's face.

Happy new year!