Saturday, November 10, 2007

I Want to Live Here

I like to move. Not my body necessarily, but where I live. By the time I was 23, two years out of home and college, and just starting a job as Asst. Resident Manager at Arborgate Apts., south of Jesus Junction in Atlanta, I had changed apartments six times. I'd lived in a two-bedroom in Flushing with my sister; a basement in College Point with a cat who ran away; a flat on 168th Street and Horace Harding Blvd.; a two-family in Atlantic Beach; a studio on 14th St. in Manhatten; and a room in Marietta, Ga., with the sister of a friend from high school.

What I thought I liked was change, the shift in point of view, a taste of new neighborhors and a gathering of experiences. I liked the way each place showed me a different way the sun could shine through dust motes or etch shadows on a high or low ceiling.

But what I really liked was the sense of urgency, the checklists of boxes to find and fill; belongings to keep or toss; how quickly I could pack my books (and I have a lot of books); the clothes I must keep and would always ordering my possessions, i ordered my sentimentality.

By 1976, I had created a rule: Be able to move yourself if you have to. Because you know, after a while, you run out of friends to help. And my parents and sensible sister were right: Moving is expensive. The new start-up utility bills, the trips to Woolworths for curtain hooks, cleaning supplies. a change in bedspreads. It didn't stop me though.

I liked the sense of really living that constant movement seemed to offer. To be still was to wait and I did not know how to wait. I did not want to wait. I did not know what I could be waiting for: my life, as it turned out. But I did not know that. So I moved and never caught up with myself until I moved here---to Arborgate.

At Arborgate, I chose a two-bedroom flat with two bathrooms. Sears delivered a mattress and boxspring. After unpacking my moving boxes, I draped them in the old (someday vintage) table linens and single draperies my mom sent up from Florida. Then I packed it all up again and moved into a townhouse across the drive. I set it up again and added a light-weight hollow door from the storage shed, laying it across two saw horses also picked up at Sears, the one in Buckhead that sold fancy cashews in pink bags.

By Christmas of 1976, the governor had packed up his place on West Paces Ferry Road and was heading for a brief stay at the White House. Everyone in Atlanta was talking about the Peanut Train. Everyone except the three of us in the Arborgate model and office. We were talking about a renter named Abigail Snowe who had left her sliding glass door open the night of the 23rd.

And we were talking about me because I had found her body just inside.