Saturday, October 30, 2010

What's In A Home? part two: more on the present and looking to the future

"[Lansing's] fine, but it ain't home; [Hamilton's] home, but it ain't mine no more"--Neil Diamond, paraphrased for my purposes.

In my former post, I began to talk about the need to feel at home.  This led me to talk about my move to East Lansing 7.5 years ago.  Actually, what brought me to this city was the job I have in radio.  It's been a slow climb, but I've been able to stake something of a reputation for myself here, a very meager one, but nice nonetheless. 

But I've always been hesitant to put down roots here because I always figured it'd be temporary.  Boy, was the joke on me there.  Even to older people, three-quarters of a decade really no longer constitutes "temporary."  But I didn't want to think of myself as being from the Lansing area.  I didn't change my driver's license to list East Lansing as my home city until I was coerced to do so.  I didn't want to transfer my church membership to the CRC church in East Lansing, and only did so when the home church in Hamilton said they were going to lapse my membership there since I was no longer attending their services.  Really, what I was waiting for was a full-time employment to be my anchor, that which would make it worth my while to plant myself firmly in one particular place and spur me on to start becoming a more contributing member of the community.

Boy, was I looking in the wrong place, in more than one way.

It sort of came out of nowhere, and certainly caught me off-guard.  Put simply, I fell in love with a girl from the Vancouver area.  Vancouver?!  Three time zones away... more than a full day's travel, even if I had a 300 gallon gas tank and didn't need sleep, it'd take about a day and half to drive to her.  Hard to say how I know she's "the one", but I know.  Correction: hard to say how I know she's "the one" without having you wonder if I've started drinking cleaner fluid again.  But she is.  And that officially makes her the first permanent root  of my post-collegiate life, the first firm anchor that I want in place for the rest of my life.

If you know anything about Canadians, unless they're in the entertainment industry, it's pretty difficult to get them to agree to move to the U.S., and even if they are entertainers, it's usually decided by a losing coin toss.  Point being, it's gonna be me who moves to be with her.  (Okay, other factors are involved besides nativism, but whatever).  I spent a week this month with her, and I mused over what moving to British Columbia is going to mean for me, and why I'm going to hate it.

-In addition to being a complete uprooting, I'm moving to a place where being an American is a strike against you. 
-I'm moving to a big city.  Even with the capital of the state next door to me, I've never really felt like I was living in a metropolis.  But this means going from a farm town, to a medium sized city, to a huge metropolis, and I've never liked big cities.  The family trip to D.C. when I was a kid kinda freaked me out.  Being serenaded to sleep by police sirens will do that to you, you know. 
-This is also a city that relies heavily on public transportation.  I hate public transport.  I genuinely enjoy driving.  Having to focus on the road helps you forget about your troubles, and if you're lucky enough to find your jam on the radio, that's a bonus.  Oh sure, I could still drive, but there's a reason Vancouver is so big on the public option, and it's not just because of the green factor.  Traffic is horrendous here.
-And if you know anything about Vancouver in particular... not an agricultural epicenter, but they are famous for one particular crop... one that's still widely illegal.  I've never even smoked a cigarette.
-The mountains here are actually quite lovely, but he cityscape is butt ugly.  Seriously, the buildings are just EYESORES!  They look like they're supposed to be collapsible for easy relocation.  And the colors.. .ugh.
-Train station performers.  Ben E. King is rolling over in his grave, and he's not even dead yet.
-Pacific northwest.... it rains a lot there.  And snows, too.  I do not look forward to driving in the snow in that hilly area. 
-I don't care if I am moving to Canuck country... I'll always root for the Red Wings.  Deal with it.
-Cost of living there... much higher.
-I believe I said something about possibly working in radio there... at a station where over a third of your playlist MUST be Canadian artists.  I hate this policy for so many reasons.  Let me just say this: there's a reason no self-respecting lite rock station in the States plays the Barenaked Ladies' "If I Had A Million Dollars."  Somehow, I feel that sums it up succinctly.

I don't remember everything I said about how I'd be an ill-fit for the territory.  Maybe if my woman wants to remind me of everything I said to her about it, I can extend the list.  But you get the basic idea.  I'd have to be nuts to want to move there.

But the truth is that, as they say, home is where the heart is.  So that means, that woman--who is everything I've ever wanted in a woman but was told I was naive and foolish for wanting or believing I could actually find--is my home.  I don't even feel comfortable at her house, but when we're snuggled up together... I am at home.  I feel a contentment within me that harkens back to the afternoons in high school when I'd come home and take a nap, and wake up just in time for dinner, knowing I'd still be able to get all my homework done by ten and that I'd still be able to fall asleep before eleven.

So I'll be moving to Vancouver sometime next year.  Whatever worries and anxieties lie in wait for the chance to haunt me upon my arrival, I'll move there to feel the embrace of an absolutely wonderful woman, an embrace that tacitly proclaims, "Welcome home."

Friday, October 29, 2010

What's in a home? part one: the past and somewhat present

I've lived in East Lansing for over 7.5 years now, and while it certainly does make me feel old, that's really not the issue (though that could be a whole different blog).  For the first 3.5 years or so, I never updated my driver's license to show my address as being in Lansing.  It'd always been in my hometown of Hamilton.  I figured there was no point to changing it, becuase I'd expected to find something stable soon.  A full-time job where I could make a place my home, instead of renting a room.  It didn't even have to be a house... an apartment of my own would've been fine.  Well, it certainly is testimony to naivete/stupidity, but about 4 years ago, I was in a minor accident.  The other car wasn't scratched at all, but my driver's side mirror was knocked loose.  Nonetheless, the officer who responded told me that I would have to change my permanent address to the current address or else face further fining.  I'm not sure if he has that authority, but at the time, I wasn't about to argue with him, so I did it. 

I wasn't happy about it then, but it was a good thing.  Though East Lansing has never really felt like home, going back to Hamilton has been a bit like the Twilight Zone... when I found out my old Quiz Bowl Coach (and I think he's still a football coach) now lives on a road that was on my bus route.  And all the private "roads" that have cropped up (y'know... driveways that are so long, they have a blue sign to note whose driveway it is).  It's kind of buzzkill to your sense of wanderlust to know that if you satisfy it, you'll be arrested on multiple counts of trespassing. 

Other changes include the ice cream joint that became a rib joint is now an ice cream joint again, under different ownership.  The grocery store having to be open on Sunday (not the manager's choice, btw).  A party store... growing up, there was the Quick Stop, but it wasn't a "party store" in the way you usually visualize a party store.  But they did have some pretty awesome pizza.  But now there's a more conventional party store in town.... before, you'd have to drive to the south side of Holland for a real party store.  As far as I know there's still no stoplight in the town, but that's bound to change, I'm sure.  And don't think it won't be a local tourist attraction either.

It's all so strange now.  Hardly feels like home.

But East Lansing doesn't either.  Never has.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What's in a name?

I have to admit, there have been times in the past when I wanted to start a blog, but I always procrastinated on it.  I mean, does anyone really give a shit what I'm thinking most of the time?  Highly unlikely.  Nonetheless, things are are just weighing too prevalently upon my mind, and I have to get them out, if only for my peace of mind.  Or piece of mind... the piece that's left, that is.  Since a couple friends of mine have blogs here as well, I figured I'd try a blog out here. 

And yet, with worries and woes weighing upon my head, it was signing up for here which proved to be a bigger pain in the posterior.  I knew that if I ever started a blog, I wanted to call it "The War Room"... a combination of a couple different memes.  One of which is that silly bumper sticker/T-shirt that says "6 of the 7 voices in my head don't like you."  And another which I must credit my friend Laura with, who insisted I see Dr. Strangelove, and in doing so, subjected me to her favorite line, "You can't fight in here!  This is the War Room!"  So I just jammed the two together with the thought that if my brain were a building with rooms, and all my cranial voices convened in the War Room, all hell would break loose. 

Well, it seemed much funnier in my head.

So I originally wanted the title "The War Room: Where The Voices In My Head Go To Duke It Out".  But this was too long.  So, I was just going to shorten the end to "Head Duke It Out" or "Head Go To Fight"... no good, still too long.  And Fight didn't really say what I wanted it to.  So, it was eventually whittled down to "The War Room: Where The Voices In My Head Brawl".  And now as I type this, I see it may still be too long, as I have the ellipsis after "In My."  Sheesh.  Give me a frakkin' break.  Still, despite what the web page may say at the top, the official, formal title for my blog is "The War Room:  Where The Voices In My Head Go To Duke It Out."  And failing that, I'll change the name to a strange symbol of sorts and get all pissy when you try to call it "The Blog Formerly Known As The War Room:  Where The Voices In My Head Go To Duke It Out."

Then there's the URL.  Naturally, I started with "thewarroom".  I figured it was a good name.  What I forgot is that usually all the good names are taken.  Such was the case here.  I tried warroom, the-war-room, the-warroom, thewar-room, the_war_room, the=war=room, the last two of which told me that the _ and = characters were not allowed.  Rats.  Suddenly, I tried adjusting it with "inthewarroom".  Available!  Sold!  Only issue is now I have the urge to sing Cream songs... In the war room, with black curtains....  I don't even like Cream.  Nothing against the trio, just not a fan of acid blues.

So here I am.  With a blog that isn't quite named the way I want it, but it'll meet my needs.  The things we go through just to have a place to complain.  Oy vey.