Last night I dreamed about moving. Whenever I do this, I dream about moving to a big house or huge apartment and everything’s great for a minute, but then I learn that some of the rooms are always locked or I have to have roommates or it’s moving day and I haven’t even packed or, of course, the place is haunted. In a lot of these dreams, I have trouble remembering where it is that I actually live, which is something that used to happen a lot in real life.
For about three years, I moved a lot. I was married to someone in the military and neither of us had any real desire to put down roots, so in that timespan, I moved either half or all the way across the country four times. Because I was in a near-constant state of moving (which included the talk about moving, the decision to move, the finding another place to move to, the packing up of all the shit to move there, and then, finally, the move itself), I would frequently wake up in the morning and have no freaking idea where I was. It was that moment where I was awake but I hadn’t yet opened my eyes, and I had to lie there and concentrate on what room I was going to see when I got up. Was the door against the north wall across from the closet, or would I sit up too fast and wrack my forehead on the windowsill again, thus causing my then-boss to ask if I was being domestically-abused (I wasn’t)? I didn’t start minding this temporary disassociation until I decided to stop being married and moved back to St. Louis. I’d been sad and homesick for such a long time that the move alone made me happy, which is why I was so terrified when I’d wake up in my new place and think just for a second that I was back in one of my married apartments. It’s been almost seven years since I came back here, so thankfully, those episodes have almost disappeared. It’s the dreams that still freak me out, and I always wake up exhausted.
I like home. I know I’m supposed to be cool and travel all the time and only keep a place to dump my shit before I move on again, but I just really like home. I prefer being home to pretty much anywhere else, even a fancy hotel room and I love fancy hotel rooms like it’s my job, so that’s saying a lot. I like my furniture, my art, at least one of my cats, my food, and knowing that this regular, stable life I imagined for myself when I was younger (when everyone else was dreaming about being ballerinas or some other bullshit like that) is real. Because I like having this solid sense of place, I don’t like to move very much. Well, I guess no one likes moving. It’s mostly a lot of work that you have to beg or bribe your friends to help you do. But a lot of people crave change so strongly that they’re constantly trading up (or at least in). Apartments, cars, significant others, and, for the more terrible people, pets. The new is always exciting for them, whereas I take at least a week to get used to a new gas and brake pedal, and when I moved to my current place, I still found myself driving “home” to the old one more than a month after I’d left it. Maybe I’m a slow learner, but more likely, I just like being used to things.
I think this is why I get so freaked out over the weather. To echo one of my most favorite search results, “why are there so many goddamn tornadoes?” So far this year, I’ve been in the basement three times, the bathtub once, the basement at work one time, and scanning the shitty local weather radar times infinity because if something does happen, I don’t want to be that moron who gets killed because they were too cool to go downstairs like a reasonable person. And guys, I’ve been lucky. Tornadoes have touched down in St. Louis several times this year, and once it was bad enough to halfway destroy the airport. Joplin was decimated by a tornado on Sunday, Alabama was hit a few weeks ago, too, and maybe if I didn’t like my stuff so goddamn much, I wouldn’t have to worry about it getting sucked up into a storm. Maybe I could be a little like Graham, who could really give a shit if we go into the basement or not, and has no inclination to stand at the window grinding his teeth about the likelihood of that tree falling down on top of his car. Or maybe I shouldn’t have read Night of the Twisters so many times in third grade, because I still remember that part about the kids emerging from the wreckage without any shoes on, and their feet were all wet and cold and there were sharp things everywhere, and that’s why I put on my sturdiest sneakers when it gets crazy out because I can’t stop being afraid that the same thing will happen to me. I would like to have expressed sincere nonchalantness when, earlier today, I replied to the upstate New Yorker who told me that I was “crazy to live in tornado country” with “yeah, well, you’re crazy for living in Headless Horseman country.”
But I didn’t mean it, and yes, I have considered that I might be too attached to my stuff.
So it’s not so bad that I’m planning on moving again in October. I can’t get a home loan without a co-signor, and because I refuse to do that, I’m going to look for a house for Graham and I to rent. I like this apartment and it’s been nice having friends for landlords for the past four years, but I need a basement that doesn’t do double duty as mildew dungeon/tornado shelter for the reluctant. I need a yard. I need someplace in a neighborhood where it’s not normal to hear gunshots a couple of times a week, or where a busted old car doesn’t get shanked with a screwdriver because some crackhead needed a ride to the 7-11.