Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I went to the dentist last week. Thought I had lost a filling. Turned out it was merely chipped. This wasn't "my" dentist, just a local one, since I thought I had an emergency. But as I sat down in the chair, an assistant started going through all the things she was going to do that day. I needed a whole work-up, she said. There were a bunch of x-rays to be taken, then a thorough examination, and finally a plan was to be drawn up for what would turn out needed to be done over the next few years. The next few years? I paused her. Suddenly, I had realized that after years of moving to this place, I had now stopped. That now it was time to start moving away from here. Some people tend to want to stay in one place. Not I. Apart from moving frequently—living here for four years has been my longest consecutive stint in one place since the eighties—I tend to be mentally either moving in or out even while staying at one place. I thought becoming a father would change that. It hasn't. So far, at least. And so it was in that chair that I realized that I have now begun preparing for leaving this place. In a year or so. Perhaps a year and a half. Mentally, I have started making plans for how to deal with that. Whether to take one car along. Two. Or sell them both. What appliances to leave. When to list the house. I am leaving, ever so slowly.

It also just seems to be in the air. Not only are our neighbors, the people who we have really connected with here, leaving piecemeal for another country, but other big attractions on the street are leaving as well. One branch at a time.

We became interested in the neighborhood before we became fond of the house. Short, quiet streets that are close to the bustle—such as it is—have always appealed to me. That is why I liked staying in a quiet apartment overlooking Las Ramblas, in the obscure little hotel around the corner from Times Square, at the resort on the calm side of Duval Street, on Maui instead of Oahu, near Montmartre instead of on Champs Elysees, on a side street from Oxford Street, comfortably close to Strøget etc. I need people. Crave life. And when that life ebbs, I lose interest. Become sad, even.

Like today.

I still remember the first time I saw that tree. It towered over everything. Not just the house which yard it occupied, but the house across the street as well. Actually, the whole street for that matter. It just stood there, graceful, quiet, strong. Like some benevolent giant, watching out for us puny beings busying about below its branches. My daughter took to it immediately, as well. It must have been one of the more striking sights for her early on, laying in her carriage, looking up at the sky, as I pushed it up and down the street.

I struck up a conversation with the head of the deconstruction crew. He said he was sorry to see it go. I believed him. He was probably in his early sixties, but couldn't remember this street without that tree towering over it.

Why do we so crave stability, somewhere in our lives? Why do we need to know that some things are not evanescent, that they will "always" be there? Maybe it was just the immoderate size of this being, and its apparent immovability that gave the illusion that it would never leave.

In the end, it doesn't matter. It, too, is leaving.