I can hear the Canada Geese down in the big fields at the base of Burnt Ridge these days, and I saw some in the field behind the library. The wasps are working hard to seal up their nests. The big-leaf maples have been dropping leaves for a while now, and the driveway is covered in hemlock needles.
It’s definitely fall, although the predicted high for today is around 80 degrees. And that means that Preston’s and my migratory tendencies have kicked in as well. It seems that both of us had migratory ancestors, and we were both raised migratory as well. Preston was halfway through high school before he went to the same school for more than a year at a time. For me, fall meant it was time to move back to my mom’s house, which was rarely in the same place for more than two years.
Just a few weeks ago, the idea of moving closer to Olympia came up. I like the idea, but the thought of leaving this property literally had me in tears. I really love it here. But as the subject has popped up here and there, I’ve found that I like the idea more and more. A week or so ago, I told Preston that if it was purely a matter of living there or living here, I would choose to live there (Olympia), but there’s the problem of inertia. I don’t know if I want to move badly enough to pack up and actually literally move everything we have here.
And then last week, Preston and I had a really interesting conversation about our collaborative relationship and how it seems that we are working towards really different goals right now. We talked about me just taking off for the next couple months and living in my car. I figure I can do that pretty easily for around $400/month, and live fairly well. But then as we talked about it, we realized that I’d probably be parking my car up near Olympia. And if I wasn’t living here, Preston wouldn’t want to either, so he would move to Olympia also. So it occurred to us that maybe we should just both move to Olympia and see how that goes.
While we were talking last week, the idea came up that Preston "owes" me some time off, after I supported him while he went to school last year. I told him that I wasn’t really interested in having a relationship based on a market economy. But after we started quantifying what it would really cost for me to live on my own, in the manner that I would be happy with, I started thinking that maybe some quantification is exactly what we need in order for this to work out. So, if I could live well on $400/month, and Preston is willing to provide me with those things that I would otherwise have to provide myself (food, shelter, etc.) then I am willing to provide a value of $400/month to that system. That means that I could work 10 hours a week for $10/hour. And if there are things that I want in addition to the basics, I would work extra time for those (for instance, I would really like to take kung fu, which I think will fill the niche that kickboxing filled years ago, so I would work an extra 5 hours every month in order to pay for that). It will be far easier for me to find work in Olympia that I would be willing to do for a few hours a week, not to mention that I’m more likely to be able to lead plant walks and such, there being a market for those things there but not so much here.
And at that point, we can start quantifying what it’s worth to Preston to have someone who keeps the kitchen clean, or fixes all of his dinners. If I spend an hour a day doing dishes and making dinner, then perhaps I will work only 5 hours a week, and my net value added to the system still equals the $400 that it would cost me to live on my own. And if at any point, this system isn’t working for either Preston or I, our resources are seperate enough that I simply move into my truck and stop utilizing Preston’s resources or contributing to that system.
Because we have this collaborative relationship, it is possible for us to talk really logically about our individual goals and how we can best attain them, without talking about breaking up. If I moved into my truck, that wouldn’t have any effect on the leng-term outlook of our relationship, nor would it indicate that we are any less committed than we ever were. It would just mean that we are honest about what we need out of life right now, and that we are not interested in holding each other back from getting those things.
So once we had decided all of this, we started looking around for places to rent, and that made it seem, you know, like, real all of a sudden. We are actually moving. And we were joking about how it must be a fall thing. And then we started really thinking about it. Last fall was when we moved here.The fall before that was when preston left Seattle to finish school at Evergreen. The fall before that was when we moved to Seattle. The fall before that was when we moved to the Boise North End…and pretty much every fall before that, back to the fall when we very first met and moved in together, we have moved or somehow radically changed our lives. We wondered if we would ever just get used to that pattern and be ready for a move every fall, instead of being surprised every year like we have been so far. I wonder if the Canada Geese are surprised by the sense of urgency they feel as the temperature drops every year. Do they think that *this* year they will stay in this northern paradise for the rest of their lives, but then get unexpectedly restless every September?