The movers came for the first shipment of children’s books, wooden trains, and t-shirts, the items we deemed essential for our stay in temporary housing when we get to Los Angeles in just a couple of weeks. It did not take them long, as we necessarily tried to limit what we set aside for this shipment. We will be in a small, furnished two-bedroom apartment until we find a house, and there will not be room for tents with tunnels or oversized dolls’ houses. This shipment went air, so I kept fuel economy in mind with each item I set aside.
The next shipment will be packed up in just two weeks, our last day in London, as we scurry about attending Zachary’s Easter Hat parade and fitting in nap time. And then, the children will wake to an empty house, and we will head to an airport hotel for the night before our departure.
I have seen my life disassembled like this time and time again. When I was younger, I packed and moved everything myself, hoodwinking friends into lending me vans and taking one end of the box spring down three flights of stairs. Now, with the relative luxury of a corporate move, others come in and pack for me. It is a nice perk, having someone else do the packing, although I cannot imagine they could get people to move this often any other way.
In the past, moves have been towards school or towards jobs – Philadelphia, Washington, Chapel Hill. When we moved back to Philadelphia, I was following J’s career, for the first time moving to a city for no reason other than someone else. I had no job waiting, although I found one as I finished graduate school. But, I was returning to a city I had lived in for six years before, and Philadelphia had a stronger pull on me than any other place.
Then we moved to London, a great adventure, a two-year foray into another land. And now, we move to Los Angeles, returning not to Philadelphia, but to yet another new city. Again, we will broaden, we will grow.
Yet, I wonder to myself. If something (heaven forbid) happened to my husband, where would I go? Not to Massachusetts, a place that lost its hold on me the day I no longer needed someone else’s roof or food. Not Los Angeles, which pulls us only through the force of J’s work. Not Philadelphia, where we have sold our house. My friends are scattered about the country, a few in each place I have lived but even more in places I have never been as they themselves have moved.
The truth is, I have no career right now. I could build one up again rather quickly, but I could build it anywhere. This has been a great asset with all the moving about. I have no family to speak of, or at least none that speaks to me. Moving to London has loosened many of my friendships, too many time zones and too few visits. And, the children are so young that they have no real ties anywhere. The only thing that anchors us is my husband’s work.
I am a woman defined by my husband’s work.
I am from nowhere and I have nowhere to go. I have no family beckoning. I have no career. My children are not in schools. We are, all four of us, easily transferable.
And I am, I fear, easily erasable. For, beyond the walls of wherever we are currently calling home, there is no place for me in the world.
I usually end on a hopeful note, because I am, for reasons no one has ever quite been able to figure out, an optimist. Today, however, my optimism is tired. I have grown out and up many, many times. I want to spread roots down.