Have you ever looked back at a chain of events in your life and wondered if the world was setting you up to make a big change? I can’t help but feel I was being prepped over the last several months to make a huge life switch. Remember my panicky chair rant from months ago? It’s so ironic. Two months later, my column in the local paper was canceled because it wasn’t “local-centric.” And then my husband declared he wanted to move closer to his workplace, as the 55-minute commute had finally taken its toll after eleven years. In the end, I had to give up not only my beloved writer space and chair at my favorite coffee shop, but my whole town. I’m not going to lie. It was hard to accept.
As much as I complain about living in Hellinois, my nickname for the great soul-beating state that is Illinois, I do love this town. It’s not Chicago, but it’s pretty much the next best thing as far as culture goes. Over the past few months, I had to accept the fact I’d be giving that up and moving to a smaller town, Conservativeland, if you will, and have been plotting how I will survive. It has a university within a bike ride of my new house, and a fairly vast library I will be able to get lost in. Plus, there is a coffee shop. I don’t think it has a special cushy chair, but it does have chai. And there is a nearby multiplex, as well as a single-screen theater currently under renovation in the old downtown. Access to movies, books, and a hermit hole is basically all I ask for. The food in this town is dismal in comparison to the one I live in now, so I’m going to have to cook more (Big HAH!) or something.
What’s really weird is how more and more things keep changing before the move. The school down the street from where I live has shut down for renovations, and they tore out several huge, beautiful trees to make way for a new addition. Down the street from my coffee shop, a hotel is scheduled to go into an empty space where a building burned down a couple years back. (I was there the morning the firefighters were putting out the flames.) My local independent movie theater has turned into a co-op because rent is ridiculously high, and I fear for its survival. Even some of the regular servers at our favorite haunts have disappeared. Bearded Guy doesn’t come into my coffee shop and sit at the table in front of me every day like he used to. I still see him, but not as much anymore.
It’s as if all these changes are happening at this point in time to push me out, to make it easier for me to leave it all behind; like a chapter in the life of this town has come to an end, and when I come back after the move, it’ll be a different town than what I once knew. Leaving a town with all the creature comforts is bad enough, but leaving behind the personal things that make it your town is the worst. As someone who despises change, I hate to see these things happen, and it’s almost easier to leave now than it ever could’ve been.
It’s as if I’ve run the course of this town, and need to move on. Maybe it’s psychological, but it really feels like there are outside forces making this transition mentally easier.
An update on my beloved chair: my coffee shop kept it in its usual space and never did install the dreaded “Kid’s Corner” threatened earlier by new ownership. Maybe someone actually listened to my declaration this chair was the only reason I kept coming back. I’m going to miss it perhaps most of all. The cushion in the arms has worn so thin, you can feel the wooden framework when you prop up your elbows. There is a staple that pokes through the fabric on the left arm I constantly bump myself on. It’s in need of a new stuffing and reupholstering, but it’s my chair. Like Sheldon Cooper has his “spot” on the couch, this is my little corner of the universe all else revolves around.
In the past month, this chair was witness to two more milestones: my finishing the fourth draft of my novel in progress, and the place I was sitting when I found out my hero, Ray Bradbury, died. This chair has held me while I cried in public more than once. This chair could almost have its own book about the things it’s been a part of. I’m sitting in it now, teary-eyed as I write this entry. I’ll remind the owner again before I finally move that I’ll take it if they ever consider throwing it out. It’s been here longer than I have, so I really don’t know how much longer they would keep it. Maybe some kid will knick is or her arm on the staple and they’ll finally decide to toss it. The other two cushy chairs that used to sit in the back of this coffee shop have vanished for whatever reason. My chair stands alone, the last monument of a fallen empire.
The official moving date is nine days away. I should probably apologize for being such a sentimental sap, but I this is one more piece of the transition I need to set in place. I can’t help but look at every act without a feeling of finality. “This is the last time I’ll be walking my dog in this neighborhood,” or “This is going to be my last morning chai at this coffee shop,” even though that’s silly, since I’ll only be living an hour away and can visit anytime I like. But I won’t doing those things as I live in this town. I’ll have to make a special effort. And you know how most “special effort” promises turn out. I hate getting up early. There’s no way I’m going to get up at 6am so I can drive up to this coffee shop and have breakfast here at 8. It’ll never happen.
But, all these changes are pushing me to the realization that maybe it’s time for me to turn over a new leaf, anyway. My time in this town has come to an end. I need to begin new routines and learn new streets and find new hermit holes. Maybe even find a new chair. I don’t really have a choice in the matter.
And as “Closing Time” makes a well-timed appearance on the coffee shop radio, I lay to rest my last blog entry made at this coffee shop, sitting in my chair. I’m not even making this up. Sometimes, the radio just knows.