Thursday, October 1, 2009

If you have to move...

...which, if you're an average American, will happen 11.7 times during your life (a statistic that suggests that the twelfth move is usually fatal), I would like to suggest the following:


Books, you see, are sort of like ghosts, except that you are the dead person (even before you move for the twelfth time). This is because every book ends up preserving some past part of you based on the time of life when you obtained it, the person who gave it to you, and the slips of paper you may have tucked in which fall fluttering out from their safe place in before to the transition of this moment.

I don't normally mind books. We live side by side, but I only consult them when I'm already thinking of them, so their pull from the present toward their past isn't so extreme.

Today, though, I found myself face to face with a playwright and a missionary, and older brother and a friend, with an Ohio Utah Germany resident I used to be. I found myself face to face with old friends, old critics, old fears and old interests.

But the rush of packing meant there was no time to deal with each ghost, to greet it respectfully and lay it to rest. And so the ghosts rose into the air, lingered around me, as I packed my many selves into tight little cardboard boxes, taping them up and preparing them to be brought to lie in wait in a new home, storing their energy to haunt me again and again--until 70% of the way into my final move I give up trying to keep one step ahead and go live in the present of those many ghosts again.


  1. But see, I don't really trust anyone else to pack my books, of which I have hundreds. It's not a fast process, but I need to address them emotionally every once in a while, so I know when I'm ready to move on from them.

    Also, if you count summer residences, I've had thirteen moves, and I'm still alive.

  2. Bonnie,

    I don't think you understand the way statistics work. You talk about surviving thirteen moves as if it's a good thing: in reality, though, every additional move you make without dying is causing someone else to die earlier to maintain the 11.7 move American lifetime average.

    So: no more moving for you. I'm counting on making it to my twelfth move, and can't have you taking my extras. After all, I'm only 26 and have already me get back to you on that...


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