5/21/2008

Home that isn't home but is forever home

I'm finishing up my second can of Foster's Bitter, purchased at the JPA Mart on the corner of Fontaine and JPA and JPA Extended and Maury Avenue, yet another of those weird dances that navigational channels in Charlottesville tend to do. I envision that Literary Charlottesville will be built on a firm sense of the geographical curiosities that are embedded in our cultural geology.

I'm in an odd paradox. I am sitting in the same house where I have written much of the last three and a half years of my life. This is likely my last night here in this capacity, or at least, one of a very few. There's no net connection at the new house yet, and I needed to post some things to some places so that I can help pay for our new house.

Yet, I'm tired, and it's time to go to bed. I have a 15 minute walk ahead of me, and it's already getting late. So, I'd like to go to sleep here, because, in the back of my head, this is still my home. So much happened here. Two kids entered my life here, in this space. And yet, this is it, this is the end here. In a few weeks, there will be another tenant, and a new set of stories will be overlaid over top my experience here. And, of course, some of those are matters of public record!

This house, the one now, was (I think) the fourth place I lived since I moved to Charlottesville in 2002. Now I'm on to number five. Three and a half years here, in this house in the Fry's Spring neighborhood. All of the houses on this former street are more or less identical, with the same basic ranch-with-basement pattern depicted in every single house.

Not so in the new place. which allowed each lot owner to develop their house however they wanted, according to the documents from 1947 which guided the development of my new neighborhood.

But, the real exploration for all that is to come in the future. For now. it's about saying goodbye to this house. I know all the noises here. When the heat goes off and the vents stop blowing, there's always a slight boom as the metal in the furnace contracts suddenly after being filled with the hot air. I'll miss that sound, and regret I'm not equipped at the moment to record it one last time.

In the new house, the furnace ran all night last night, and we didn't even notice. Our first service call will now have to go out to someone to explain to us how we should run the heating system we already have.

See? The new house continues to try to crowd out the old house. In a few moments, I will walk upstairs to head home. I will pass through my empty basement, where I've built a few things, and head upstairs. My footsteps will echo louder than usual, because there are no pictures left on the walls, no pieces of carpet. It's all memory now. I can imagine they're all upstairs, and I can totally envision this tiny snapshot of what it was like, say, a month ago. I want to remember what it's like, in a reptilian sense, where everyone is. My space memory, my sound memory, all of that, is going to need some reprogramming.

Life is much grander for these occasional shifts in perspective.

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