Living in Vacationland

I've moved a lot. It's funny, because I definitely don't consider myself one of those people who you meet and think, "I bet they never stay put." There's nothing particularly adventurous about my affect, I'm not a thrill seeker, my life doesn't fit into a bag, and I don't own any shirts that read "wanderlust" in some aged cursive. I'm actually fairly introverted, my nesting gets pretty hardcore, and I'm a collector, which translates to "I have a lot of stuff." Nonetheless, I have moved more than the average person of twenty-six years. 

It started with my mom moving us; apartment to house to apartment, to grandparents' house, repeat. We lived in this one apartment that had paper thin walls, floors and ceilings, and our neighbors, among others, were a loud, flamboyant couple. We once overheard an argument that concluded by one of them storming out and the other yelling after him, "YOU CAN'T GET MAD AT ME, I BOUGHT YOU SHOES!". We love quoting that line. We've moved around Syracuse, Oswego, Long Island, and Maine. The only true effect of this is, aside from that first great storm that cakes the world in feet of frosting, I hate snow.

Then it became time for me to go do whatever it was that I was going to go do. Schooling brought me to Delaware, then back to Maine for a few months, then down to the Hudson Valley in New York. During all of the geographical moving, my personal life has taken a few trips as well. I gained a cat, lost a cat, gained a dog, lost a dog, gained three sisters, have separated and reconnected with a father, have gained and lost more step parents and families than you can shake a stick at, got to keep my favorite of all the step parents and families, wish that another could have stuck around for longer, but they're just a phone call away. I've lost an uncle and two aunts, have mistakingly called my grandparents mom and dad because that's what they have been to me, gained another dog, kept my mom, and gained a best friend.

We've all got our baggage, and that's just the tag on mine. 

What I've learned is that it can be really easy to move. Move in any direction. I'm not a person that perseverates for long. Like I've said before, "got a problem? Fix it." Change is important and a constant, especially for me, so leaving places has never really been a bother. I can leave a friend in the middle of a conversation and years later pick it right back up. I don't say "goodbye," I say "see you soon." I can be a stubborn ass, but I feel I'm pretty adaptable. Goodbyes are just not such sweet sorrows. Here's a mantra for you, my great grandmother used to say, "always leave the party laughing."

Well, this time I left the party laughing, and I made the move back to Maine, and this time it was a bother. I miss the bananas out of the Hudson Valley. Not the mountains, I would never take mountains over the ocean. Oh, but everything else. Mostly, the people. This world is a godless rock that refuses to die (thank you, FJM), and it has hardened me so. I may not seem like a person who has seen some shit, but seeing as how we all have, you can trust that I have as well, and what it created was a jaded cynic. The Hudson Valley, though, expresses some of the strongest and most necessary compassion that I have yet to experience anywhere else. I'm sure that place in New Zealand is a decent rival, and actually Seattle is unsettlingly pleasant-- now that I'm thinking about it, I get the feeling the whole pacific region is probably pretty great, but if I'm talking close to home, the Hudson Valley is pretty effing nurturing. In my brief six year stint, which is too brief, I softened to an extreme. The attitude of the people in the Hudson Valley is contagious, and it left me feeling present.

Keep an eye on those folks, because they're good people. 

I've been back in Maine for a little over a week now, and here's the abridged version:

- I don't recognize anything. This place is definitely cooler than I left it, and seeing as how I just moved from New York, I want to call it gentrification, but the great pine tree state is predominantly white, middle class folk that can still, for the most part, afford to live here. So let's be real, it's just more of a tourist trap.

- I do recognize some things, and luckily the things that are important to me. The coffee shop I worked at for eight years is here. My favorite deli is here (If you're ever in Yarmouth, hit up Claytons, it's delish). My favorite swimming spot is still here. I went to my high school, and that place still smells the same. 

- I've made more artwork being here than I have in the entire time since I graduated art school. I feel like I'm doing an artist retreat. It's pretty rad.

- This place is different, and I feel different. Good different. All around.

- I haven't lived here for nearly ten years. That's a long time. Out of the optimal hundred year (yeah right) lifespan, that's ten percent (let's be realistic, it'll be about 12.5%). Ten years is just under half my age. That time went by so quickly! I didn't realize it until I went to drop in at the yoga studio I used to frequent, and the person working at the counter asked,

                  "Do you know if you're in our system?"

                  "Oh, I doubt it, it's been a while."

                  "Well, let's just check. How long has it been since you've been here?"

                  "Umm..holy shit--sorry, pardon--it's been, like, almost ten years"

                  "Wow, time sure can fly."

                  "I guess so..."

                  "Oh, look at that, you're still in the computer."

- I have seen some pretty, seriously gorgeous skies. 

- It's weird being in a place I spent so much of my life being angry, and now I'm here being happy. 

- I still feel like I'm only visiting. It hasn't really sunken in yet that I'm not just vacationing in Vacationland.

- The pizza sucks. still.

In perpetuity,

Hannah

PS: Hudson Valley, I'll be back.  

PPS: This video has been coming up a lot lately. If you don't know Bill Viola's work, check it out, it's pretty extraordinary.

PPPS: I believe in signs from the universe. When I was seven or eight, and my mom was putting me to bed, I wanted her to stay longer, so I said, "wait, mom...sometimes, I just feel like a puzzle piece of me is missing. Like I'm an incomplete puzzle." This would haunt her for years until it would later be revealed that I pulled that line from the Rugrats episode when Chucky gets a girlfriend at the playground and loses her in the same day. Fast forward, a few weeks ago, I'm sitting on the curb, waiting for my stepdad to show up to help me move my stuff up to Maine. It's a Saturday morning, and I'm inspecting the nonsense of the last night that has washed up to the side of the street. I look down, next to my foot, and I see this:

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Well played, force-larger-than-me, well played.