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"The thought of moving fills me with joy, and it always will," Sarah Payne Stewart writes in a recent New Yorker piece fessing up to her New England-style real estate aspirationalism. "My heart soars at the sight of a moving van down a street."
If my heart soars at the sight of a U-Haul, it’s because it may signal abandoned bookshelves in need of a new home. So I read Payne Stewart’s essay uncomprehendingly—she might as well have announced her love of digging holes in the ground.
Me: What do you want to dig a new hole for? You live in a perfectly good hole as it is.
Payne Stewart: But this one will be under a tree!
I wasn't always so immobile. In my college years, like most kids, I moved almost annually, ten times in all, powered by strong-backed friends and the traditional doughnuts, pizza, and beer. My dad, who wanted me to have a piano, bought me a Yamaha Clavinova so I could travel light. But still the books piled up.
When I graduated and got a teaching job at Ohio State, my new employer moved the bulk of my stuff for me. Still a novice at driving a stick shift, I hurtled toward Columbus through a massive storm front, my cat yowling from the backseat for the duration of the 12-hour trip. Once there, I found the house keys I'd been given didn't fit the locks. Stranded in an unfamiliar town booked solid with some convention or other, I wound up spending the night at the Shady Lane, a motel that's pretty much what it sounds like.
Five years and another wallful of books later, I left OSU for Chicago. On my first night here, I locked my bike out behind my new apartment, naively assured by the high barbed-wire fence around the gangway. So long, bike.
These days I have renters' insurance. My landlord's a sweetheart, I'm just a few blocks from the lake, I've salvaged several fine bookshelves from the curbs and alleys of Rogers Park—I'm not going anywhere.