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April 21, 2012

“Slowly I Turned”: Nomad’s Land

by hmsnow1

Peregrination seems to be written into my genetic code. My family moved a lot when I was little, and in the past thirteen years I have moved six times. I suppose this is only to be expected. One doesn’t become a writer for the sake of money (normally there isn’t any) but for the love of writing. I work full-time to support my writing compulsion. Since the only other option isn’t an option—i.e. marrying rich—I accept this necessity. It has had an inconvenient side effect, namely, that I am often compelled to find new quarters for myself because I can no longer afford the ones in which I live. This might be because of rent increases, or because a roommate gets married; or even, in one peculiar case, because my landlord was getting a divorce and the house was to be sold. That instance was a more apparent blessing than the others. If I see another cockapoo in this lifetime, it will be too soon.

But I digress again. I am currently in the middle of my seventh move. I must vacate my current apartment in about six weeks, give or take, and I have yet to acquire a replacement apartment. In the meanwhile, I have spent each of the past two Saturdays driving a carload of my less-frequently-used possessions to a storage locker belonging to a relative. I apologize, by the way, for my silence of the last two weeks. Moving plays merry hell with my writing schedule. I had set April 30th as the deadline for the first draft of my current project. (Unlikely now.) I had planned then to use May for revising and expanding my sole nonfiction project. (Even more unlikely now.) That would have freed June up so that I could participate in Camp NaNoWriMo’s first session, using that time to work on another novel that I had to leave incomplete last year because of structural issues. (So unlikely now that astronomical odds would be too gentle a description of the situation.)

As my last roommate once said to me, I do need to keep a watchful eye on my priorities. The writing compulsion may be strong, but so is the need for shelter. A few days ago, I did have an abnormal moment that felt like clarity. I felt the impulse to just walk away from everything I owned. I wanted to pack up one spare set of clothes and leave the rest. I spent a quarter of an hour wondering what that would be like, but no sooner did the impulse hit than pragmatism hit back twice as hard. It isn’t practical to leave everything one owns. Even Abraham, the ultimate faith-nomad, packed up his household and took it with him when he followed God’s radical command to walk into the unknown. Et cetera, et cetera. I’ve often had a strong desire for a monastic existence, but I know full well that this is just my usual stress-induced fugue state talking. “Run away! Run away!”

There is a practical compromise. Balance is what’s wanted here. Material possessions only matter insofar as they are of service to me. Beyond that, they entangle. So I’m weeding out my book collection and getting rid of any clothes I no longer wear. They cannot take any hold on me that I refuse to let them have. For the rest, I suppose I’ll have to scrape together the money to hire movers. I don’t suppose anyone can recommend any who are reliable and economical?

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