Stillness & Moving

Outside my house this morning there is a white semi-trailer. The neighbors across the street are moving to North Carolina. Two vans arrived yesterday and blue-shirted workers began packing belongings in cardboard boxes of various sizes.

I can’t help but feel a thrill whenever I see a moving truck.

My wife and I have lived in five different states in nearly fourteen years of marriage, those travels across the country related to graduate schools and my first and then second (current) job. Each time we moved, we shared excitement about the next adventures we would experience.

We have lived in Texas for almost four years, our longest stint in any one location. Before here, we moved every two or three years. Two years in Minnesota. Three years in Oregon. Three years in South Dakota. Two years in Ohio.

It says something about our current quality of life that I feel no urge whatsoever to pack up and move. The fact that we have two children more encourages stability. My wife and I both enjoy our jobs very much, and we have a great church family and many good friends.

When I’m in various rooms at our house, I sometimes imagine what our children will look like when they are bigger—say in a year or two or three or four—in this space that I’ve become so comfortable in. I imagine them sitting at our same kitchen table, the same one from the first house we owned in South Dakota.

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(I love the stillness of my neighborhood early morning when I’m running. I love the stillness in the backyard in the evenings, watching the sky’s gradual darkening. I love the birds flying through the drainage area beyond our back fence. I love the different birds using our feeder, perching on the swingset, hunting for bugs in the lawn.)

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Movement and place and landscape have long been important motifs in my writing. (The late Richard Hugo invited writers to write their obsessions.) So now in a more permanent place (as much a residence can be permanent) I use my writing as a way to travel. I used my writing in that way before, but now I appreciate all the more the opportunity that writing allows.

Whether I am working on a story that is set in Eastern South Dakota (where I have several stories set) or I am writing a poem with images from my childhood space, I can move. And just as important, I can bring my readers along with me. There is no hassle of hooking up a trailer to the back of a moving truck. There is no tedious hum inside the cab. There are no exorbitant numbers on the gas pump after having filled the truck’s bottomless gas tank.

I am both still and moving.

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