My brother just moved to London this month, and I must admit, I’m a little jealous. He’s got a lot ahead of him—looking for an apartment, unpacking, finding a convenient grocery store, mastering the public transportation system, acclimating to the weather—and it can take a considerable amount of time to settle in and start to feel comfortable. But I love all that. And I’m good at it.
My husband likes to remind me that I love to move. For about a decade, I moved on average, every two years—from L.A., to a variety of apartments in the Bay Area, a couple places in Chicago, and back to L.A. And two years is about the length of time a person can move in to a new city, get settled, fall in love with it, and then move on. Now that we’re in Philadelphia, in a house and neighborhood that all three of us adore, it gets harder to justify leaving, ever. For one, it’s not just me anymore. It’s unfair to yank Josh and Virginia all over the country just because I feel the urge to discover a new city. We’ve also made good friends here, and I like my job. Philly is far from perfect and there’s plenty about the city I find annoying and distressing—the chicken bones in the street, the limited public school system, the epidemic level of double parking that blocks traffic. But for me, the good outweighs the bad, and we’ve cobbled together a pretty nice life for ourselves. We may be lifers here in Philly.
Still, the itch remains—I’m probably most comfortable as a bit of an outsider (and it’s useful as a writer), and a newbie in an unfamiliar city is the ultimate outsider. A city is enormous when you’re getting to know it. Every long walk feels like an adventure. The way I saw Philly at first is much different than how I see it now, seven years later. It’s harder to see what’s become so familiar. Fortunately for me, Philadelphia is a city where you’re still considered a newbie even after you’ve lived here for 20-30 years. If you moved here from somewhere else—no matter how long ago—you’re an outsider.
I’m probably romanticizing moving a little bit and suffer from a mild case of amnesia when it comes to relocating—the packing and shipping is truly stressful, even when it’s just across town. Every time we do this, Josh and I swear up and down that we are never moving again. Next time I get the itch to relocate? Maybe I’ll just refurnish the house.