Monday I leave the Midwest, the place of my preoccupation for the past five years, and return South. A week later I begin teaching at Southern Louisiana Community College, three times a week in Lafayette and twice in New Iberia—Dave Robicheaux country for James Lee Burke fans.
I have noticed how with each move I become more ruthless. The situation is akin to cropped work in my writing, I never miss the edits once they are gone. I suppose I do feel the occasional ping of resentment over the hand-woven rug that a garage sale picker eroded down from an absurdly low price to theft. Then there’s the woman who haggled over my piano only to drive off in her Mercedes Jeep, which she had parked down the street.
But this is the price of starting anew. And with every trip to the Goodwill where I close my eyes and dump, I am lighter. The house is airier. I am relieved.
Another side benefit: I get more done in a day than I did in the past five years. Usually one call to the Athens Water and Sewer Department would have me down for the afternoon. Today, by ten in the morning, I had made a multitude of such soul-crushing calls (four). This weekend, with the help of friends (well, actually they did the job and I helped), my attic bedroom floor was finally renovated, a project that’s been on tap since I moved in.
My life continues to follow the Laura Ingalls Wilder path in that leaving this beautiful room reminds me of when the Ingalls family left Kansas. “A whole year gone, Charles,” Ma sighs. Pa, Laura, and the mustangs, of course, are all about the next adventure. They know that the fun in Little House on the Prairie (the book) is all in the building of the house—the chimney, the walls, the floor, etc. A book about a family sitting around a nice attic bedroom wouldn’t be very interesting.
I do move secure in the knowledge that I’ll be living on a Mardi Gras parade route. Although I am moving in, for the first time, to an apartment I’ve never checked out in person. I feel good about the place (Mardi Gras! Sun room!), and my landlady totally got me by dropping in French words, but I suppose we’ll get to find out together what the apartment is really like.
What worries me most is this sunflower: