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March 24, 2005

Moving out

Posted by Phil on March 24, 2005 6:35 PM

News and photos of mph's recent move set some recollections in motion. I always remember the nights I spent moving out of my apartment in April 1997, when I moved to Cindy's house, because the Hale-Bopp comet was visible in the western sky that week. Every time I'd go down my porch steps I'd see it. Later that spring those kooks in the track shoes offed themselves to hitch a ride on it.

Moving out of Cindy's house to move to New York the next spring was mostly just exciting. I felt a shadowy sense of Cindy's regret, but I'd only lived there a year. I'd done things to invest myself in it, and Tim Lengel and I (mostly he) rehabbed the bathroom, but six months after I moved in, the week we got married, we got the New York chance, so the rest of my time there was spent preparing to leave it. We got a dog, Chet, then lost him. (I have always suspected black marketeers--basement dog-fighters, or the scum who sell pets to test labs, NQA.) Cleveland kept the Yankees out of the World Series, then lost it to the fxckin' Marlins. We had a good New Year's party. At the end of March (seven years ago this week, I guess) I flew to New York and found an apartment, and in April we drove out.

Moving out of Brooklyn in October 2001 was a whole other deal. The apartment had been typically small and filled with our stuff--there's nothing as lived-in as an urban apartment. To see it bare to the walls again was so surreal it seemed impossible. I loved that apartment. There was a funeral for a 9/11 fireman at the church on our block that morning, our whole block had been blocked off and cleared and became a parking lot (buses, limos, dignitaries). Bagpipers were tuning up directly below our windows, driving the already-batshit cat completely around the bend.

Although we'd known we couldn't park on the block (there were signs), we had no idea why, or how crazed and disrupted the whole neighborhood was going to be. At 5 a.m., police cars began a sweep with loudspeakers. You can imagine the effect, 3-4 weeks after 9/11 in New York. I hadn't parked my car far enough away and had to roust in the cold and dark to move it again. A woman with an accent was watching with her child by an open window and asked if I knew what was happening, so I walked over to a police car and then we both knew. When we were ready to load several hours later, I had to drive blocks away and circuitously back to where I could get within a block of our building, then we had to walk our last carload of stuff down. If the van hadn't come the day before, GOD ONLY KNOWS....

New York felt damaged and vulnerable, and the feeling that we were deserting it was compounded by the feeling that we couldn't desert it fast enough. I envisioned a bridge-and-tunnel attack--or, possibly worse and certainly more likely, some moronic security clampdown--that would trap us and our unborn baby there. I hated leaving New York, and I had to get out. I don't admit to much sentimentality, but I choked up driving across the Verrazano Bridge. I hadn't seen that view of the skyline since it happened.

Ninety minutes later, we were in rural Pennsylvania. It was autumn.

Two days later, we were in Indianapolis. Indiana seemed more hysterical than I'd felt in New York. The marquee on the Vogue said "LADIES NIGHT GOD BLESS AMERICA." Our realtor left a 12-inch souvenir Lady Liberty on our new mantle with a red-white-and-blue ribbon. Our moving van didn't come for six days or something. We didn't end up getting cable or anything until spring, so I followed the rest of the baseball playoffs on the radio, at my parents', and at an upscale neighborhood biker bar called the Stone Mug. I had been out on my "last Saturday night in Brooklyn" and watching on a bar TV when Jeter made his amazing shovel play to Posada to tag Jeremy Giambi at the plate and save the game and the series against Oakland, and after that it seemed like destiny that New York would win it all. The Yankees won the pennant, and the World Series against Arizona was one of the greatest ever, with two glorious late-inning comebacks in back-to-back games at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees got routed in Game 6 but looked like they had Game 7 in the bag; then in the bottom of the 9th Rivera tried to throw out the lead runner and got an error instead of the out at first, then he gave up a broken-bat single just over Jeter's head and the Yankees lost. After that, Paul O'Neill retired and they let Tino Martinez go. The team that won the championship every year I lived in New York was gone, and the Yankees haven't won one since.

A relative few in Indiana give a shit about baseball, and for a couple games I had a big-screen TV all to myself in the Stone Mug's dining room, which only added to a weird sense of dislocation and isolation. I hadn't given much thought to my return to Indianapolis being any kind of homecoming, but it was strange to have it so completely not feel like one. My parents were glad to see us, and my co-workers were familiar, but I didn't seem to have friends here anymore. I don't pretend to have been particularly traumatized by September 11, but I was there and I saw things; it was odd, deliberating on who, when, and how much to tell about my experience of it.

And there was this baby on the way. Everything was too hectic to do much about Thanksgiving or Christmas. I got my drums back and had them in the basement for awhile. We had good company for New Year's. A couple weeks later we went to see The Fellowship of the Ring, but we were late (as usual) and saw The Royal Tennenbaums instead. The next day Cindy thought her water might have broken, and around 8 or 9 o'clock that night they told us to go to the hospital, and the next night she delivered Max. Over the past three years we've slipped from one groove to the next according to the rhythms of his development. In 2003 we had a miscarriage. We got pregnant again in 2004, and this January we had Tommy, who's as big and healthy and mellow as they come.

We're done having babies, and the way it looks now, as definite as one can be about "indefinitely," we're done moving. It's up to them to move out on us, unless it comes down to us leaving the whole country. Can't rule that out.