Continuity in our lives is assumed. Just like an enterprise is considered an ongoing venture, our lives are deemed endless from the point of view of the day-to-day. Right? How else could we plan our quotidian life, let alone future plans? “Oh, we wanted to visit Rome, but we don’t know if we’ll be alive come October, so… never mind! We won’t plan.” This kind of logic is not what one hears when talking to people. On the contrary, we all assume tomorrow, and the day(s) after that, will smoothly flow until we are no more. Which is a different topic altogether.
So, yes, continuity is assumed. As my husband and I prepare for a mini-move to Los Angeles, my thoughts circle around continuity, It’s a mini-move and a temporary one, because we’ll be transplanting ourselves for less than four months. The distance of the move isn’t lengthy either; door-to-door it’s about 350 miles or six hours of driving. We’ll be going from NorCal to SoCal. From the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area to West Los Angeles. From the well maintained lawns of suburbia to an urban area, which in the words of the landlord is relatively “un-integrated.” In this country where mobility is almost a defining factor, we’re neither changing states nor even time zones.
We’ve rented a furnished apartment. Granted it’s sight unseen, but there were photographs, even a video on YouTube. It has linens and towels and a fully equipped kitchen, so I guess I’ll pack just my good knives. My idea of fully equipped and the landlord’s may be more than 350 miles apart, but we’ll be only 2.2 miles away from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. And we’re taking both cars. Why mention the car situation? How else do you count yourself a human being in LA? Where the traffic simultaneously beckons and repels. Taking both cars also means having more room to transport the stuff we think we can’t live without. And no, we’re not going to go the U-haul route. The temporarily rented apartment is on the second floor and neither of our backs would be able to survive the potential damage.
Speaking of our backs, we’ve also signed up at the local gym. As if to ensure more continuity to the lives we lead here, it’s the second thing we did right after finding the apartment which itself is in a neighborhood where a lot can be done by walking. Again, we signed up at this gym sight unseen. Then again a move is so much easier to orchestrate now than as little as a decade ago. Google Maps has been an invaluable tool helping us picture the new neighborhood, gauge distances and locate the nearby gas station, supermarket, dry cleaner, pharmacy and other conveniences of modern life.
Packing for this mini-move has made me think about continuity too: when do we stop being/living here and being/living there? How to free the pantry, the fridge, the freezer, the counter-tops of food? Which ripely redolent fruits to consume? When’s the last garbage day so we don’t have to drive our trash to LA with us? What about laundry? The good news is we’re going South, to even more temperate climes than we’ve been experiencing during this unseasonably warm (dare I call it) winter. Which makes packing clothing much easier than a similar move to say Maine.
The excitement of imagining oneself in a new place is tinged with some anxiety. Is it a sign of having lived in the same place for too long that one knows where most things are in one’s home? As members of the Armenian Diaspora have we taken being on the move for granted? In the past I’ve moved often and by long distances. But not for the last 14 years or so. Despite frequent short hops of international travel we’re probably feeling the weight of accumulated years which may have calcified us more than we thought.
There is a sense of being tied up and flung upside down; a difficulty of what to choose as indispensable. And as I write these lines (which themselves are a little respite from all the minutiae I’m dealing with) my husband is working on deciding which books he’ll need while in LA. He’ll be participating in the Spring 2012 Program at the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (that last one being almost indistinguishable from theoretical physics which is what he does) at UCLA. The program is on Computational Methods in High Energy Density Plasmas. He’s had to figure out the seven different topics he’ll be working on and how many books and (scientific) paper-filled binders he needs to lug along, trying to settle at no more than two boxes per topic. These 14 boxes have been taken to the local UPS to be shipped post haste, so they can greet him there upon his arrival. He’ll probably be known as the scientist who showed up at IPAM with the legendary 14 boxes of books…
Assumed continuity could cause stagnation, even complacency. We may get ossified in our ways, creatures of habit that we are. Prior to celebrating what’s considered a milestone birthday in less than a month, I’m looking at this mini-move as a chance to tear out some unseen cobwebs, do some *real* Spring cleaning. And I’m grateful for that. And I will also convince myself that I can picture myself serenely enjoying that.