Today was one of those days where change hung palpably in the air, like catching the first scent of an oncoming storm. It could be, in part, because summer has finally arrived in earnest: cottonwood seeds drift lazily through the air, collecting in the un-mown grass like banks of snow, fat, black pincher beetles gleam from the sidewalk’s edge like onyx cabochons, and one week into this Chicago June, I finally felt secure enough to put my winter coat in storage. (So, expect snow tomorrow, obviously.) But while the dawning of a new season always feels ripe with alteration, more than that, I think the impending changes in my life that once shimmered nebulously on the horizon, small and unobtrusive, are no longer mired in the benign haze of distance. They loom before me now like the Annapurna Massif–a stark and formidable imposition on the landscape of my future.
After leaving my job on Friday, I spent the past week in merciful limbo. My parents were off vacationing on the McKenzie River in Oregon while I lay low at their house and looked after Elwood, our dog. Following the hellacious rollercoaster ride of employment under a mercurial boss, I was relieved to finally come to rest in the valley of my parent’s couch cushions where I whiled away the days drawing, writing, and consuming an obscene quantity of smoothies and espresso, one after another, in much the same manner one might chain smoke a pack of cigarettes. There were long, solitary (save for Elwood) walks on the beach and the odd foray into socialization, but for the most part I had nothing to do and nowhere to be, and the opportunity to be alone with my thoughts, without the intrusion of obligation, was a luxury nearly as delicious as those 200 ounces of smoothie. (The Jetsons era blender I have at home doesn’t get used on account of it smelling like a tire fire, so unfettered access to smoothie making equipment is kind of a big deal for me.)
This retreat from the daily grind was restful at first, meditative even, but without the dread of an insufferable job clouding my every conscious thought, my mind finally turned to my swiftly approaching departure for Arizona. My god, there is so much to do. I’ve begun hacking away at this seemingly infinite to-do list, grateful for the delusory sense of control that productivity affords, but my daily duel with progress feels rather like attempting to chisel Michelangelo’s David from a hunk of marble with a blunt pair of safety scissors and Trumpian hands. For every infinitesimal grain of stone that falls away, countless more surface and it’s all I can do not to collapse at the foot of this stubborn behemoth of rock and concede defeat. But I know that, just as this whirlwind of anticipation and preparation has sprung upon me in the blink of one myopic eye, so too will the end result of all this toil. Honestly, I’m not sure what’s harder—the laborious slog through an infinite sea of errands, tasks, and other accouterments of heart-rending life change that manifest, paradoxically, in such mundane and tedious fashion, or the knowledge that, in hindsight, it will all have passed so quickly and I’ll find myself thrown to the wolves of an unfathomable future with barely a moment to ponder, How did I get here? Such is the nature of time—it plods along like a dull film while you jam your finger against the fast forward button to no avail and then, when you’re finally ready to hit pause, it skips ahead in a blurred series of flash-frames and the end credits are rolling before you’ve even sussed out the plot. So, despite the dance with drudgery that a large move entails, I’m trying to relish the calm before the storm and use this opportunity not only to plan ahead, but to reflect, as well.
After emerging from my limbo and transporting my belongings from my parent’s house back to my apartment, I took a break from the evening’s chores to walk by the lake. I had just spoken with my landlord and received some surprising news (which they currently wish to keep private) that left me marveling at the serendipity of it all—the crux being that the agonizing uncertainty I faced when making the decision to leave Evanston turns out to have been for naught. I don’t believe in fate, but I won’t deny that every so often the timing of things can engender such awe as to give the impression that life is a well-choreographed play whose script we haven’t seen and, for the most part, weren’t aware existed, but whose occasional stroke of artfulness has the capacity to break the fourth wall giving us no choice but to applaud its wit. As I was musing over this on my way to the lake, waxing nostalgic for the eight wonderful, terrible, and tumultuous years I spent in my apartment in a way that only the end of such an era can inspire, I spotted two of my grade school teachers walking toward me like guests appearing on an episode of This Is Your Life. I hadn’t seen these women in years and it was a sentimental delight made all the more poignant for its contribution to that fortuitous sense of timing. We reminisced fondly before I carried on my way, continuing this jaunt down memory lane with a visit to the sailing center–a place so haunted by the specter of memory as to be imbued with an aura of anachronism, making it difficult to reconcile the tangibility of recollections with just how much time truly has moved on. As I gazed out across Lake Michigan—a view at once as familiar as my own reflection, yet never ceasing in its evocation of wonder–I felt a small frisson of longing course through me. Whether this was longing for the past, present, future, or some confluence of the three, I can’t really be sure. I quelled the synchronous urge to laugh and cry and said one of an endless series of goodbyes before making my way home.