Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I'm Back

I'm moved, partially settled, back on-line, and doing a million things.

I'm sort of adjusting to the new place, although I've had a few shocks, like when I found out it didn't have air-conditioning. (In the South, if no one mentioned a lack of air-conditioning when selling you an apartment, it would mean they were trying to kill you. Up here it just means they're trying to make you moderately uncomfortable.) I'm looking into window units, particularly since having the windows open all the time doesn't combine well with either the fraternity a block in front (which holds late night parties) or with the cow pasture a block behind. (I like seeing the cows; they're pretty. I just don't care for smelling them when the wind changes.)

Eating has gone pretty well so far. I'm in walking distance of a few restaurants here in town, and I've had good luck with the nearby big city (no giggling) of Erie. In fact, I've found the good shopping district of Erie. I always know I'm in good shape when I've found where the Target is. (OK, I'm sure someone thinks Target is tres gauche, but I like it and I generally always like the areas where they build them.) In the same area I've found the Mother-of-All-Supermarkets, called Wegmans. They have everything, and every time I go in, I find more stuff to buy than I intended to. Last time I discovered the olive and antipasto bar. Then some cheeses. And ooo--look at those donuts in the bakery! That was the point at which I figured I needed to leave so I could still fit through my front door by the time I got home.

In any case, I'm still in the halfway point of unpacking. I have all these boxes half-empty, plus a bunch of boxes of books I can't unpack at all because I don't have any bookshelves anymore. In fact, I have no furniture at all for my living room or dining room, since I opted to give away a lot of old furniture when I moved. But this means I have to shop for furniture now, which is another thing for me to do.

But in any case, I'm here. And I can't help but think, as I did right after my partner and I both moved last time, of the ending of the Lord of the Rings. (The books. I don't remember if it's in the movie that way.) At the end, when Sam has seen off Frodo, and gone back home to greet his family simply with "I'm home," there's a melancholy and unsettling feel to it, almost unsatisfactory. Frodo is gone, and the story is closed, although there's certainly more living to happen. But things didn't go back to the way they were, and they never can. It's a theme Tolkien seems to like. Near the end of the Silmarillion, Tolkien makes some comment about the fact that the story started with the high and light, and ended in a certain degree of gloom and despair; he says that is the way of the world, and things will never return to the way they were, unless it is at the end of all things when the world is broken and remade anew. (I'm probably way off on the phrasing here, but hopefully not on the sentiment. I'd look up the quote, but remember all my books are in boxes.) It's probably related to general Christians theology, with the idea of an early Garden of Eden, followed by a fall (a descent into darkness), which will never be fully righted until the end of the world. But my main point here is just that there is the same sort of sad, almost empty feeling when Sam says "I'm home" at the end of the story, even though things have mostly turned out alright. A story has ended, and nothing will be the same again.

So as I said to myself after the last time my partner and I moved about two years ago, after I had said goodbye to him for a while and returned to my (then) new apartment: I'm home.

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