Today I went to the town I grew up in. I moved there when I was ten and it was home, or at least the family home, until a year ago. There's nothing there for me now. None of my friends still live there, the house is sold, the stores have all changed and the people look at me like I don't belong there. Which I don't; downtown Bellevue's gotten real rich lately, rich in a shallow and nasty way, and what I remember as an ordinary suburb with a smoothie shop and a drugstore has become a valet-parking-designer-outlet nightmare, a Jimmy Choo stiletto stamping on a human face, forever.
But I went to the park I used to go to as a kid, to Mercer Slough, and that was the same. Swampy, empty, quiet. Cattails and blackberries, ducks and herons. The little canoe dock I played on when I was ten years old was right there waiting for me. I had to be the one to leave it.
There's less than two months left now. Everything I do in Washington is starting to have "maybe for the last time" appended to it. That might have been the last time that I'll sit on that little dock. And I don't know exactly why I'm leaving. I like Tommy, but I'm not moving for him. I have good memories of Massachusetts, but they're really old ones. I very nearly threw a dart at a map.
I'm starting to get afraid. I have a nice apartment here, some good friends, a steady job that doesn't suck, I know my way around town. When I get to Boston I'll be lost and broke, I'll be couch-surfing and filling out job applications. Things could get screwed up. If I can't get a job, if I can only get a horrible minimum-wage job, if the apartments are too expensive or have horrifying roommates, if I spend every Friday night alone, if I don't know how to get around or what to do--I'll be a long way from home.
Except that I don't have a home. I have a rental that's ending in two months anyway. I have no possessions of note, no love of my life, no serious career, no children, no family here. I have history in Washington, but I don't have roots.
And that's the real reason I'm moving. Simply because I can. I'm going to get stuck somewhere (I hope), so I might as well see a little more of the world while I can. Life in Washington isn't bad, but I don't want it to be my whole life. Doing something for the last time makes me sad--but less sad, in the long run, than doing the same things over and over. In a new city there will be so many first times.
I can't tell myself that everything in Boston will be better, I can't tell myself that a new start will be easy or that I won't make mistakes, but it will be different. I'm ready for that.
There's a quiet little dock somewhere in Massachusetts, just waiting for me.