Looks like we're moving into a new home. We don't have a closing date yet, but sometime this summer. My paring down in multiple aspects of my life this past year appears to be my process to prepare for this momentous change. It is a big deal for me and for Chris and Gideon as well. Chris and I lived in our townhouse for over 15 years -- the longest either of us have ever lived in one place. This is the only home Gideon has ever known. It feels like both yesterday and a lifetime. These past few years we've discussed moving and the conversation usually turned to staying put and being frugal, not being house poor, which are all very smart ideas. Living in this smaller, less expensive house is the main reason I've been able to publish 14 titles (and one more later this summer) at No Tell Books, among other things. But now being frugal feels more like complacency. If not now, when? Every time I get a book in the mail, I stress a little -- where am I going to put it? In the past 6 months we've done 4 massive Goodwill donations, given a great deal to friends and family, organized closets and the basement and thrown out countless useless things being held onto for lord knows why, and still mind-assaulting clutter. Why did I save a box full of alumni magazines? Or all my undergraduate papers and reading handouts? Our basement reeked of the 90's.
So we have a contract on a really lovely 42 year-old (positively ancient in this neck of the woods) split level home a little over 4 miles away. It has a wooded yard for Gideon. It has a garage so Chris won't be parking his bicycles in our dining room. Chris' office won't be the storage room. There's a walk-in closet so large that I am positive Chris and I will never argue again. It's on a very quiet street. I recently came to realize how much I hate noise and busyness. I think because I grew up in a loud, screamy, frantic house, I learned to act like it was normal and OK, but it isn't OK with me. I never got used to it, I just learned to act like it didn't bother me. A few months back when I was in NYC I became really conscious how much I hated being there, just for a couple days. I remarked to my friend how agitated I felt and he said he had the opposite experience. He felt energized every time he spent time there. I can't imagine feeling anything other than exhaustion. It's not anything specific to NYC, just amplified because of its size. I feel the same way when I go into any busy part of DC or any other city for that matter. And while my current street isn't exactly noisy, it is often busy. There's always soccer and baseballs games across the street and tennis matches a few feet over. A community path is just a few feet behind our house. To work, I either have to disconnect from my environment or be scattered and distracted. I think this is why I work better at night. Less going on around me. I hope this will be less of an issue in our new home. Of all the many thing I love about this new home, I think the seclusion is what attracts me the most. When we talk about fantasies, mine tend revolve around a quasi-hermit lifestyle, except I still shave my legs and brush my teeth and I don't live in a cave or a shed, but in a lovely cabin deep in a forest.
This life I created for myself when I began blogging almost 8 years ago, then starting No Tell Motel and No Tell Books, and participating in both online and flesh (in-flesh ?, fleshy ?) communities offers a lot of benefits. I certainly get a lot out of it--many wonderful friends for one. It's made my life more connected than I ever thought, or considered, in both good and bad ways. Last night I was on Facebook, looking at my 10 million "friends" and was like, HTF did I let happen? My policy has always been, friend people I both like and know and accept friend requests from poets, because, hey, it's nice being part of the many communities. Also, I don't always remember every single person (or their names) I meet at readings and conferences, so it's good to err on the side of caution. But the truth is that my idea of community now overwhelms me. For a long time I'd been filtering out hundreds of people in the feed, so I can get updates from people I'm interested in hearing from. Every time I figure out a system to manage all the updates, announcements and Jesus, those fucking event invites, there's a redesign or a new "feature" and all of my organizing is out-the-window. Chris laughs at my frustration. But he's not on FB and if he was, he'd be smart enough not to accept friend requests from 10 million poets. So last night I unfriended over 300 people and organizations. Nothing personal. It was like cleaning out another closet. Then I dreamed all night of culling my FB list. I woke this morning in a mild panic that perhaps my slash and burn created some unintended enemies. Then I told myself, I get unfriended by people for no obvious reason all the time. That's life on FB and we all need to get over it.
But if you're someone who reads this blog, and if I did unfriend you and if that hurt your feelings or made you feel bad, I am sorry. Last night wasn't about you, it was all about me. I'm getting ready to move and it's making me unsettled.