“This is totally the big important scene in the theoretical movie of your life – little girl off to the big city,” joked my (now former) roommate Kristen as she dropped me off at the train station this morning in Richmond to await my ride to New York City.
The big day is finally here – I’m moving!
In fact, I’m writing this from my cozy Amtrak seat, as trees and dirt roads and sun-soaked waterways whip by in the window. I hate the whole strip-search-followed-by-cramming-humans-into-a-sardine-tin-then-launching-its-twenty-ton-metal-body-30,000-feet-into-the-air ordeal of flying, so when I can, I always prefer to take the train. I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog that I have a weird fascination with trains, like the kind of fascination that’s probably more appropriate for a four-year-old boy. Whenever I spot one (a train, not a four-year-old boy), I can’t stop myself from blurting out, “TRAIN!” Richmond actually has the world’s only triple-level train trestle, where three tracks cross each other like a steel braid, and my friends make a lot of fun of me for caring at all about that little fact and, one time, going so far as to drag them to go look at it in Shockoe Slip. Whatever though, trains are amazing.
If you don’t know a lot about Richmond, let me tell you, it ranks highly on a lot of lists. Some of them are stuff like “Most Murders,” but still. Moving is always bittersweet, and Richmond is a cool town, even though people from New York clearly think it’s the lamest place on Earth. When the movers – two dudes about my age – came down from Brooklyn to pack up my room, one of them asked me in a bewildered voice, “So…what do you do here for fun?” Like we literally didn’t even have bars or restaurants. I was tempted to throw on my thickest Southern accent and say, “Well, if the weather ain’t right for catfish noodling, we’ll head on down to the barn for a hootenany!” (Which, let’s be real, doesn’t sound that bad. I could go for a hootenany.)
It’s weird to see your whole life reduced to boxes, to see your room stripped of all the things that made it yours – the pictures, the polka dotted sheets, the Ikea mirror, the Absolut bottle filled with fake hydrangeas. It’s easy to forget that at their core, most rooms are just white boxes, waiting to be personalized. Of course, my white box in Richmond was 18×15′, and my white box in New York is 7×10′, but that’s neither here nor there.
Even though I took a six-month hiatus in Los Angeles, I’ll miss a lot of things about Richmond – like its slow, deliberate, drawling pace, its spacious coffee shops, its pastel-colored row homes, its inability to remember/acknowledge that the Civil War ended 150 years ago, its warm river banks, its cobblestoned avenues. I’ll miss the people, too – my second family, Katie Bo’s family, and their beautiful farmhouse; all the tattoo’d hipsters and their fixie bikes; my professors; and not least of all my friends, of whom I am so proud as they all begin their careers around the country.
But while I’ve got a healthy dose of missing my family and my friends and the familiar in my old haunts, I’m mostly excited. I impulse-bought a headboard and a new duvet cover, because I’m An Adult now and An Adult should have things like headboards and use words like “duvet.” I’m planning to paint an accent wall in my new 7×10′ white box. (To be clear, the 7×10′ white box is just my room. The whole apartment is larger. Slightly.) I found a color called June Day, a dusty yellow that’s perfect in so many ways – the same color as my childhood bedroom, and with a name that reminds me of the day I finished chemotherapy. I’m going to buy a tea kettle too. Because I’m An Adult. And An Adult should not make tea in a saucepan.
I’m also going to need a window air conditioning unit, because hot flashes are intense, you guys. I used to be like, “Ha ha, hot flashes! Old ladies are so hilarious when they stand in the fridge or roll down all the car windows in December!” But I’m not laughing anymore, because chemical menopause is the WORST and hot flashes can SUCK IT. I’ll just be chillin’ out, doing my thing, and then all of the sudden it’s hotter than the surface of the sun and I’m soaked in sweat and looking around for frozen things to put on my face and then, five minutes later, I’m freezing and I need a sweater.
So here I am, 25 years young, enjoying chemically induced menopause and wielding moderately-sized fake boobies and being nerdily excited about trains like a little boy and on my way to New York City. Life!