Mar 6, 2005


This essay aired on NPR’s Weekend America on 3/5/05. To listen to the piece on line, Click on: The Moving Chronicles

They say that moving is one of the greatest stresses in life. Along with death, divorce, job loss and, these days carbs. In the last 24 months I've moved 17 times -- triggered by the other stresses: the death of a parent, a stroke to the other, job loss on the east coast, career suicide on the west, and a three year relationship died apparently because of my carbs.

In January 2003 I left NY and went back to LA: to help my mother sell the family house, revive my acting career, and take a break from my boyfriend so we could figure things out. By May, Mom’s house was in escrow and still filled with junk; my boyfriend was figuring things out with someone else; and my acting career? Okay, I played Mrs. Ben Franklin in a church video.

So, I drifted. From one friend's couch, to another’s spare room; I had a couple house sitting gigs, I even had a sublet that I never really stayed in because I went back to New York. Oh yeah, there were a few cross-country ricochets as well.

I know, I know: why didn’t I just get a job and a place and ride it out? Well how do you get a job when you don’t know what you’re supposed to do anymore? And how do you get a place when you don’t belong anywhere, or to anyone? And why go temp for some law firm when you just want to want jump out the conference room window?

Right after my boyfriend and I broke up, I landed this housesitting gig for this UCLA-professor couple who lived in Bel Air. That meant four months of free rent! Time to grieve and to heal in abeautiful Spanish hacienda with eucalyptus trees, and silence, ... and their 18-year-old daughter who just got kicked out of rehab. Apparently I wasn’t there just to watch the house.

It was good to have someone else to worry about. But after I found the third bong, the professors came back, and I was out on the street. Luckily, my agent called with an audition in New York. So I flew out for the weekend, and ended up staying two months, trying to salvage my old life.

My friends took me in: Chris with his barbed-wire-hammock of a sofa and a dog that farted Napalm: Matthew with his king sized Temperpedic bed and the Emmy award mocking me from the mantle; and Julia, the bicoastal actress who was always out of town earning her rent -- as a pharmaceutical rep.

It was lying in Julia’s loft that I gave up on New York. Because Julia lived above a Dunkin Donuts. Dunkin Donuts was where my ex-boyfriend and I would meet to ride the subway together, or if we needed neutral territory to resolve an argument. Ah, the pink and orange Formica and that aroma of plain, fresh, good-old workin' man’s coffee. Just like my ex. And they were all over town. I couldn’t avoid them. So I went back to LA and hid in the bourgeois comfort of Starbucks.

I finally found a long-term sublet: a studio in Venice that was hip, cheap, and quiet.
"Yeah it has been quiet," my neighbor marveled. As if she were talking about an earthquake and we were long overdue for another. Then she told me: the alley right outside my Bathroom had JUST been the site of a drug overdose, a gang murder. And now it was quickly becoming the local hooker’s green room.

So last weekend, I moved. Again. Hopefully for the last time. But I got my own place with a real lease and a utility bill in my own name. And all the friends I picked up like lint over the past two years cheered. Some helped me move. Know who else helped? My ex boyfriend. We’re actually friends now. Living 3,000 miles apart helped. I think I'll buy him a cup of coffee.


Anonymous said...

Susan! Wonderful essay!! Congrats on getting it onto Weekend America.

I'm going to link to this post and the excerpt from 2020 Hindsight.

Susan Kitchens

kelly said...

I have never stayed in touch with an X. I can't imagine helping one move.


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