Monday, April 29, 2013

I guess I'm going to remain about one day behind. Just like I feel an hour, maybe two, behind with each mile. I've been listening to this audible book called "14." It is described by its publisher as science fiction along the lines of "Lost." Which it is, actually. The narrator is good, and can speak various characters without all of them blending together. These two aspects make this a very enjoyable experience for me.

But the book is set in Los Angeles. I only lived there for two years, but I get almost every reference. There's also this play on "Scooby Doo" throughout the book, along with various other cultural references that are spot on for me - perhaps my demographic generally.

On the other hand, today I drove from Kansas City to St. Louis, MO, with Columbia in the middle. I went to college in Columbia - University of Missouri, Columbia. It was there that Tracy, Jeanne, Beth and I became friends. The drive from Columbia to St. Louis used to be as familiar to me as the drive from Oakland to Santa Cruz is now.

So, there was this reunion with my past happening over the last few days --culminating in my drive "home" to my Dad's house, near St. Louis, where I went to high school -- clashing with my recent past. I'm feeling a bit disoriented. Not really feeling in place. It's not that I don't feel "grounded," or connected with reality. Nothing that dramatic. I just feel a bit dysphoric with respect to time and space. There are pieces of story from my high school years to my present co-mingling. Living together. Taking up each other's space.

My stepmother Babs something today about cats, as I'm traveling with Chester and Bellie. She said that cats are place oriented, not people oriented. That dogs will go anywhere with you, but cats are tied to places. I've heard this often, and I'm sure it's true to an extent. But, it has seemed to me in the past week that Chester and Bellie are fine as long as we are in the same space together. They don't like it when I leave the motel room, and they don't like it when I leave to go have fun with my friends, or have pie with my Dad and Babs.

They like it when I'm there, making the space around them feel familiar. Doing my thing like I normally do. On the computer. On the phone. Reading a book. Having chats with them. I don't have to pay them any particularly specific attention - just the normal. It's as if activity and person constitute space for them. And my flip-flops. Bellie lays on my flip-flops for the first few minutes we are anywhere new. Oh, and they like their food placemat an special softy pillow.

I may be completely anthropomorphizing, however, because I am both very place-oriented, and very people oriented. And, I carry my "home" with me when I move to a new place. My "home" being my Cherner chairs and table; my 19th century tongue and groove desk; my mother's Persian rug; my enamal key bowl (which is actually more like a plate); etc.

I moved a lot as a kid - and not because I was a military brat. I didn't move with my family in toto. I was unfortunately caught in a divorce at too young an age to be able to understand what was happening, why decisions were being made, or have any say or control about those decisions. I moved to different cities in 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th grades.

When I moved to Columbia for college, I lived in a dorm. I immediately set out to find a group of girls to "live with." The girls I went out and partied with, or hung out with at the student center were different. But, I always went home to my dorm "family." They were Pam, Jill and Brenda. I tried to Facebook them and be friendly, as I did with Jeanne and Beth (Tracy and I have remained in contact all along), but it didn't really work. Pam responded a few times, but it just didn't take. I will credit Pam's husband, Troy, to introducing me to the Elvis Costello song, "Alison." It's not spelled correctly, but it is remarkably on point.

Regardless, after my freshman year, we all moved out and lived in a 4-bedroom duplex, and when Brenda moved out, Tracy moved in. That's where Tracy came into my story. When the year was up, Tracy and I moved to Rockridge Road, eventually meeting up with Jeanne and Beth. With the advent of Tracy, my home friends became the same as my go-out friends. I suppose I was growing up a bit. Or consolidating.

Now, even though I don't always do so, I like to live alone. I have since the second semester of my second year of law school - the first time I did live alone. I moved out of Laura's place and into this great corner apartment on the third floor of an old 1930's work project, brick building in downtown Sacramento. It was like living in a treehouse. It was smallish, but had amazing built-ins in every room. I lived there with my cat, Iko. Iko who came from my college family of Tracy, Jeanne, and Beth.

Living alone is peaceful. I can trace my routine into the fabric of the space. Find the best location for each item that I use in my home. The key bowl just there. The kitchen scissors just there. The bed just there by the side of the window where no one can see in, but the breeze can wash by on warm evenings. I create a performance space for one. One and two cats. I move effortlessly from one line in my routine to the next. Paths etched from efficiency and lack of effort. 

Living with another can be difficult for me. When I say, "I need my space," I'm not really saying that I like to be alone. I'm saying, literally, that I need to inhabit my space - all of it. Not this room and that space there, but I need to draw chalk outlines of myself on walls and floors. To mobilize my routine with a well oiled freedom of movement. And control. Over where things are. Where they are placed. Put.

I'm not that demanding, though. There are just a few things. But those things are essential. And not negotiable.

I never know what they are until I move into a place. Because each place is different. It's not just the rooms that are different. Although, they usually are. The light is different. The shadows are different - even if you always move into a place with western facing windows. The furniture placement is of course going to be different. The cabinets, the closets. All different.

So, I thought living out of my car, as I am now doing and will be doing for several months, would be bad. But, it's just sort of happened that my car is now organized to my perfect perfection, and my cats and I have a regular routine on our long days of driving across this great nation.

And, that dysphoric feeling? Well, I'm about ready to drive to a town that is about two hours from East Granby, CT -- the town I grew up in after being born at Hartford Hospital. I'm going to take a little, short road trip there and I'm going to drive the roads to my childhood home. I guess I'll have to make room in my perfectly packed suitcase for a little bit more...

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