Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nine is a limiting number.

Once upon a time, I lived in Philadelphia. I had two lives there. I started with the life I had in college. During the first two years I did more things in Philadelphia than most of my peers did, by which I mean that I walked around Center City a lot and every once in a while went to the Italian Market. During the third year I didn't live in Philadelphia because I was studying abroad, and during the fourth year I hung out at the White Dog pretty much every Friday night, figured out that I could run past Kelly Drive up to the Wissahickon, and went shopping at Reading Terminal. In that fourth year I started getting Philadelphia, in my small way.

The second life I had was the grad school life, which maybe sounds like it was another chapter in the same life but really it wasn't. In my second Philadelphia life I moved downtown, started making friends who weren't students, and bought bread every day at Metropolitan. I had less to do on a daily basis and more to do on a weekly and monthly basis than I had in life number one. I went to bars more and saw more bands. I watched more (than zero) TV, I discovered Northern Liberties, and I started eating meat. I spent more time trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

I didn't actually finish graduate school while I was living in Philadelphia. I finished it in the year following, after I had moved out to Seattle. And so that first year or two in Seattle kind of feel like their own kind of life -- still a grad student but less entrenched in weird procrastinatory grad student culture and more on my own to just get stuff done. Equal amounts of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. But during that first year especially, I didn't think of Seattle as like a permanent thing. It was a for-now place until graduation took me wherever my life was going to take me.

And then in the end it took me exactly where I was, and I'm still in Seattle a couple of lives later. There was the post-grad-student life living in Capitol Hill, hanging out in a neighborhood -- and in fact an apartment building -- that contained a strange combination of work and life, since the people we lived among and spent weekends hanging out with were also the people we carpooled to work with. And there is the life after that, where we've moved to Phinney Ridge, going from very much the kind of place where people in their 20s live to an established neighborhood with people in their 30s, young couples and families who all shop at PCC.

It's kind of weird how it's easy to see all these distinct life phases after the fact, because when you're going through them it all feels like one smooth continuous progression. But maybe the choices we make are more discrete and defining than we realize at the time and it's only visible later, when one day you realize that you're in a different place than you were before.


Post a Comment

<< Home