Saturday, July 18, 2009

Better late than never

If you're going to San Francisco in 2009, you're going 41 years late -- at least if you hoped to be part of a social movement that shaped the lives of Baby Boomers across the nation.

Still, is it ever to late to shed the muted fabric of a peaceful life and wrap yourself in colorful new beginnings?

I'm a writer. I've had occasion to reinvent myself in the past, so I know the transformative power of letting go of old habits, old behaviors, old beliefs and slipping into something new, even when that seems scary. Scarier, to me, is never changing, clinging to what was instead of investigating what could be, waiting for change instead of initiating it.

So, after 61 years in St. Louis, I am moving to San Francisco.

Never mind that my condo is sitting (quietly, stubbornly) on the market or that the contract for four new books fell through or that my financial advisor is nervous about the cost of living in San Francisco. I'm not figuring out whether I can go. I'm concentrating on how to make it work.

I take up a lot of room in St. Louis. My condo offers 1700 square feet of comfortable living space. In San Francisco, I will be able to afford a lot less space, and it won't be space I'll own. Renting at this point in my life appeals to me, makes me feel somehow more free. Then again, what I'm doing here is ripping up deep roots, taking a chance on building a new life in a new place, and that's all about freedom.

My first step, after listing the condo, was to stop hoarding books. I have -- had -- many, many books. About two years ago, I started to become annoyed at all these books sitting on all these shelves in all these bookcases, just collecting dust. No one was opening the books, reading the books, learning from or laughing at the books. Isn't that what books are for?

Still, I did nothing except continue to be annoyed about the number of books.

When I moved to my condo almost 11 years ago, I brought eight boxes of kitchen stuff and 48 boxes of books. That's over. So far, I have given away 37 boxes of books! I gave books to the Vandalia Women's Prison (where they have a library but no budget to stock the shelves), to the women's studies program at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, to a local high school, to the Morris Library at the University of Southern Illinois at Carbondale, to a church rummage sale,
to my friend Jenny (a college student) and to the St. Louis Book Fair.

Goodbye, books!

Somehow, I still have a lot of books. I'm holding off right now, but I think a final sweep will eliminate another three boxes or so. I've also hauled out seven trash bags of papers and detritus from my home office, and took three bags of clothing to a resale shop. Occasionally I walk around the condo and speak to the art on the walls, the appliances on the kitchen counter, the knickknacks on the mantel. "You're going with me," I say to some. "You're not," I say to most.

When I'm not sifting and sorting and pitching -- or talking to my possessions -- I'm prowling around on Craigslist/San Francisco, looking at apartments, checking out used furniture (I found a great purple bookcase -- oh, the irony!) and keeping track of freelance opportunities. Much of the time, I'm working, completing writing and editing assignments so I can fatten up my Moving Fund.

I am moving to San Francisco, and I've decided to write here about the process.

To follow me on this journey -- and help along the way -- click on the link at the bottom of the page.

1 comment:

  1. Pat, I am so happy for you and jealous that you will be living in my favorite city, but that means I will be out to visit. Your first assignment once you move, is to find a great pizza place. I will miss you, but that does not mean we will lose track of each other. YOU CAN DO IT!