Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Things Before a Move  §

The pre-move includes the shipment of books using third-party services, because they are too heavy to bring along any other way. The USPS offers “media mail” service that is reasonably priced. By the time all is said and done, we will have sent approximately 1170 pounds—more than half a ton—of books from New York to Salt Lake City via media mail.

— § —

We weighed a lot of options related to moving:

  • Leave everything behind.
  • Send everything via {insert odd discount service here, like Amtrak express or Greyhound}.
  • Hire a moving company.
  • Rent a shipping container that someone else will drive across the country.
  • Rent a truck of some kind and tow the car behind it.
  • Install a hitch on the car and tow a rented trailer.

In the end, we opted for the last choice.

— § —

It’s not that I’m having second thoughts about driving cross-country in a car with a trailer behind me and my oldest friend (Carlos) alternately driving and/or riding shotgun.

It’s just that I’ve never done it in this car before.

Our previous car had been to something like three-quarters of the U.S. states. It was reliable, though it leaked, and very mechanical. I knew it inside and out, and I knew that if anything was to go wrong, it would be either a minor roadside fix or relatively cheap to fix it. It felt, too, like an old friend.

This new car is something of a stranger. I don’t know anything about its temperament or what it keeps hidden from me.

You don’t really know people until you’ve shared a lot of crises and a lot of miles together. In this way at least, people and cars are very much alike.

— § —

My final classroom week is ahead of me.

For most of my life—at least since I was a young teenager—teaching at the university level has been my goal.

Now, after having done it for four years at some very highly regarded universities, I am about to leave it behind.

I don’t know when—or if—I will ever be back.

I don’t know how I feel about this right now, either. I suppose I am a little bit numb. I do know that I need a break, but I don’t know the nature of this break or whether the break is a permanent state of affairs.

Que sera sera.

— § —

Speaking of, this is one of my ten-month-old daughter’s favorite songs.

Her grandmother, who is staying with us, has it on her iPod, and will begin to play it without notice. My daughter will pause whatever she is doing and listen, enrapt, transfixed, caught out of time.

Her grandmother will silently cry.

Sometimes when I see this, I secretly wish that I could silently cry, too, though I think I’m incapable of doing it.

— § —

Moving has a strange teleological quality about it.

Unlike, say, buying a car, or visiting a new state, or even winning a scholarship or getting admitted to graduate school, with moving the preparations always somehow give you the impression that “Everything In My Life Has Been Leading Up to This Moment.”

It’s never quite clear why that might be, or what the nature of the moment is; it is only clear that a certain amount of reverence and maudlin indulgence is unavoidable.

— § —

Boxes rated at a 65 lb. burst strength should probably not actually be used to hold 65 lbs. worth of goods (say, books).

To do this is to tempt fate.

But then, on the other hand, those of us that do things like live in New York, have babies as graduate students, or drive cross-country with a trailer hitched to a station wagon and a pit bull in the back seat are professionals at tempting fate.

We are licensed and bonded.

— § —

We’re doing this just in time, before bridge tolls go up to $12.

I can’t think of a single car-friendly bridge in the metropolitan area where we’re going. There are one or two overpasses and one or two pedestrian bridges, but that’s it.

The only body of water is the saltiest inland body of water on earth, and the “bridge” that leads to it—the only one in town—is actually more of a dike consisting of dirt and rocks and curving gently inward toward an “island” for several miles.

— § —

When I came to New York, I was:

  • Young
  • Determinedly single
  • Reckless
  • A writer without a contract
  • Ambitious

Now, leaving New York I am:

  • Middle-aged
  • Committedly married
  • Judicious
  • A professor without a contract
  • Grateful

— § —

New York has not been good to many of my friends. Or rather, I have not been good to my friends while I have been in New York.

New York has a way of doing that to people; life is so complex if you’re not one of the global elite that it’s a miracle anyone manages to maintain any ties or realize that time is passing at all. It’s a bit light near-light-speed space travel. For everyone else outside of your context, time moves far more quickly than it does for you.

While it seems for your life as though no more time has passed than the blink of an eye, for the rest of the world you have been away for many irretrievable years.