Sometimes you outgrow a place much the same way you outgrow your clothes.
Whether in size or style, change is inevitable, and often refreshing. I've got a bit
of a gypsy soul and get antsy staying in the same place, doing the same things. My
friend Eugene expressed this sort of discontent on one of my visits back home.
"I gotta get out of here, Liz. I feel like I need to take off Virginia like an old coat."
My roommates and I understood completely; our apartment was definitely
beginning to feel not just stonewashed, but bedazzled to boot.
Don't get me wrong, it was a lovely apartment. High ceilings, wood floors, plenty
of light. There was even a fountain in the lobby. Every time I brought a friend
over I would start singing Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate
Factory. Sometimes, however, it's the inhabitants, not the habitat, that is key.
Our apartment managers were well meaning, but often patronizing. We were
possibly the youngest tenants in the building, and also from the South. This meant
we had no notion of the "real world" and all it's dangers. Never mind that my old
neighborhood made West LA look like Disneyland. As for the other tenants, most
of them weren't what I would call the smiling type. Or the have-people-over-on-a-Friday-night, play-the-piano, or breathe-too-loudly type. We had unknowingly
crashed what my roommate Emily deemed a Yuppie Monastery.
After yet another birthday party was prematurely extinguished, we were over it.
Our good friend Lauren needed to find a new place since her current roommate
was about to move to Happycouplesville, so we decided to all look together for
new digs. Within a couple weeks we found a brilliant apartment seven blocks
away from the end of the world. It was perfect for four music making, animating,
art creating, dance sensating? ladies. We finally had a new place, but that also
meant we had a, thusly dubbed, Old Place. And it was full of things. Heavy
You start looking around, and now that you have to move it, you begin to see all
the stuff you have kept around simply for the sake of having stuff. It's like the
flame you intermittently fan because sometimes having a hopeless or even
detrimental crush is better than having no crush at all. As horrible as life is with
heartache, it is so boring when you aren't in love/infatuated/in the midst of stalking
someone. It must be biology that makes even the most creative and independent
women feel utterly useless without someone to play MASH about. We clutter up
our hearts; and houses, with things to keep us from noticing the empty spaces.
Moving to a new place instigates a whole new perspective, and a chance to throw
things out, both physically and emotionally. Three young ladies and dashed
relationships ad infinitum, our apartment was rife with both trash and treasure to
Congruent with my semi-nomadic lifestyle, I have very few possessions. I could
probably cram my entire life into one of those hatchback Toyota Tercels that
everyone drove in high school. Seafoam green, to be specific. Whether this is
because I'm practical or simply impoverished, I couldn't say. I've never been a
collector of anything but friends, and I've never kept a movie ticket stub. That's
not to say I didn't have my share of packing and tossing to do.
Where I lack in tangible nicnackery, I excel in lugging around the metaphysical.
As I sorted through my meager belongings I began to take stock of all the mistakes
I wanted to leave behind, and all the ones I didn't. I would never have to look at
the walls I screamed at when phone calls went unanswered. I would never look
back at myself in the mirror I used to put on my makeup in the morning, while
friends since absent ate brownies for breakfast and critiqued my progress.
I had a heck of a time sorting through my wardrobe, half of which usually lies
dormant. I kept only the most sentimental of the impractical and underused, and
boxed up what had evolved into my weekly uniforms. Everything else went to
Goodwill, unless it was fraught with memory. In these cases both Valerie and I
agree it is better to just throw it away or burn it rather than one day run into
someone else wearing your memory. I finally found the old green thrift store t-shirt I was wearing when a very handsome boy broke up with me. It had "I
CARE" printed on the front in large white block letters. I stared at it for a while.
It went in my box for irony's sake.
As we each carried out one heavy box after another, we acknowledged the equally
heavy burdens we were leaving behind. The dining room chairs came to the new
apartment, but the lingering ghosts of boyfriends that sat in them ignoring us all
evening did not. We scrubbed out the bathtubs that had held so many sobbing
girls. Mattresses were flipped, smothering out the shortsighted mistakes,
insecurities, and wasted days. We renewed contracts with the pillows that cradled
crazy dreams and fantastical schemes. We stuffed them into our backseats,
padding our hopes and determination.
We unanimously agreed that the couch had to go. We left it at the curb. Just like
the various boys that stretched out on it, claiming they could lay with us there
forever, it never came back.
Despite the painful and exhausting work, we had given ourselves a chance to start
over. There are still plenty of "tough times" as my friend Aaron would say
(actually, he would say it twice), but I've kept the most important things with me.
A good friend was killed in an accident this month. Three very important girls
walked with me down to the beach in the dark so I could cry, and talk about him.
Staring at the ocean, I realized empty spaces aren't all bad.
I'm glad I kept room for the girls, and that they haven't ever tossed me, their
lonesome hobo of a friend. I don't have much, but I try to keep all my friends and
family with me, alive and otherwise. And everything I've thrown away? Well,
sometimes you are faced with the decision to let something, or someone, back into
your life. Are leggings really back in style? Should I let him come over? Belts
over sweaters? Probably not the best of ideas, but with fashion, with life, with love
-- you have to take risks. My gypsy heart may lead me astray from time to time,
but it keeps beating. And I keep moving.
R.I.P. Christopher Lyman, 1981-2006