I’ve been thinking about getting a new blog. Not so much a new blog, I guess, but a new location for the same sort of stuff I write here. I’m really bugged by that ad banner at the top of my livejournal page. I don’t know where it came from or how to make it go away. No one’s paying me to put it there. But then, I suppose, I’m not paying anyone to put my words here, either.
But it’s not just the banners that are bugging me. It’s something larger. I looked at my archive today and realized that I’ve had this account for just over four years. And then I started thinking about how long I’ve lived in this house–about three and a half years. I’ve had my current job that long, too. This is the most settled I’ve been since 1993. I was on the one to two year plan for more than a decade. Here’s how it went:
1993–1995 in the Navy, mostly Bremerton, WA
1995-1996 out of the Navy, nearly married
1996–married, moved from WA to FL
1997–still married, moved from FL to SC and then Puerto Rico
1998–marriage really sucked. moved back to WA
1999–found a place of my own. worked crappy jobs. started school again, ended sucky marriage
2000–moved to a crappier apartment, continued school and crappy job
2001–finished school, kept one crappy job and one good job
2002–moved to OR, started grad school (ambitious)
2003–continued grad school (bitter)
2004–finished grad school, moved back to WA
2004–2005–lived in someone else’s house, had several crappy jobs at once
2005–got current job with dental and medical and retirement. moved into current house
2006–got dog. dog continues to live in current house and i feed him with food i buy with money i earn from my current job, which i have had for three and a half years.
So I suppose I’ve settled down. Is that what they mean? I used to think settling down meant getting married, but now I think it means finding a comfortable place where you don’t have to shift around all the time. But is that a good thing? Is it good for me to settle? I am in my mid-thirties, and I have a dog and a car payment and a 401k. I think that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I work nine to five Monday through Friday. I run errands on weekends.
There is a certain sense of contentment that comes with this settling, but there’s also a bit of fear. Settling makes me feel unsettled. As if maybe this is the end of the line.
And with that thought I started looking for a new place to live. The house I rent now is great. It lacks natural light and the yard is small and not fenced, but it’s fairly reasonable and the location is good. But I want something else. More space for the dog, more light for me. More than anything I want a change. What I found was that my options are few. I am a renter in a buyer’s market. I am a renter in a market where apartments are turning into condos, where old houses are razed and condos and town homes pop up seemingly overnight.
I found only one place that suited me. The rent is a little more than what I pay now. There is a fenced front yard and more square footage.
The location isn’t suitable to my needs, however.
The more I look, the fewer possibilities I find. So I’m back to thinking I should stay put and ride out this ‘economic downturn’ until I can find a place of my own.
Suddenly I feel like Lenny and George, hoping for that little place, trying to talk myself into waiting just a little while longer, trying to talk myself into putting everything I can into getting that little place. I find myself wanting to settle, really settle.
I can’t think of Lenny and George without thinking of my own transient characters, Mattie and Joe. Mattie hates her life, resents Joe for bringing her along with him, for drawing her into this lifestyle. Joe has no desire to settle in one spot. His life is a path, not a place.
And here is where it all comes together. I have found another part of me that is Mattie, and another part of me that is Joe. I have found my characters, if only for one evening. I thought more about what they want, and for that I know them just a little better. So perhaps I should stop thinking of how I’ve settled and instead focus on the transience of my own writing, the ebbs and flows of it, the way my characters ring my doorbell and run away, the way I approach the page wanting nothing more than to pour out word after word, the way I think too much without writing enough. The way I put my craft aside and instead settle on a life of routine.