Soon I will no longer be a resident of Lancaster City. For a majority of the past 10 years, I have called Lancaster City my home. I have seen it flourish into this great arts and culture community. When I first moved into the city in 2003 with one of my best friends, we ended up on this little side street in the not so flourishing part of the city. Our little street, Hillside Avenue, was safe, but around us, not so much. We didn’t care – it was the first time on our own, exploring the world of independence.
Soon enough, my friend was off getting married, I was going through a very soured ending to a relationship, and off I moved to the West Side: Walnut Street. This may still have been my favorite city apartment. 3 rooms, a studio technically, with an amazing built in cupboard in the back and an open kitchen that led out to the backyard. I didn’t always feel safe there; being completely on my own for the first time, but it remained my home for nearly 2 years. Months after moving in I found myself laying on the futon bed in the front room for hours talking to a Canadian thousands of miles away, dreaming about what was ahead. Always dreaming about what was ahead.
Then I left. I was sick of my job. I was sick of here. I wanted to explore. Montana called me home. In February 2006 I hit the road with my parents, who graciously moved me and my shit approximately 1930 miles to the town of Missoula. I found my apartment there on craigslist, trusting to live in a strangers’ basement. God must have been watching over, because he was a divorced father of 2 adorable girls, he had the cutest Corgie named Oggie, and GOATS AND BABY GOATS running around in a backyard pen. But at the 5 month mark, after Kevin and I became engaged, I realized how much I missed home, how lonely I was, how wasteful I had been, and how difficult it would be to live there with Kevin not being able to legally work the first 6 months after we would wed. We prospected places to be married – found a B&B with an amazing view of the Bitterroot Mountains. I wanted it so badly, but I could not justify it. I sold everything that would not fit in my car, bartered my futon for a carpet cleaning appointment, and headed home just over 6 months after I arrived, by way of Glacier National Park.
I lived with my parents. This would be my first return home.
Kevin and I got married in February 2007, and lived for about 2 months in my Grandparents Farmette in Willow Street while the property was awaiting auction. Privacy was limited, so as soon as we saw a semblance of some financial stability (which turned out to be a falsehood), we went apartment hunting. 1 place we looked at. 1. 3 other couples were looking at it the same time we were. I had good references, but our income looked shady; I couldn’t imagine she would approve us. But she did. We lived there 1.5 years until Kevin’s illness landed us longterm in the hospital, and we were unable to work.
This would be my second return home.
I lasted there until just 4 months after Kevin died. My girlfriend’s mother had passed away and she was waiting for a work visa to come through to head to Canada to live with Kevin’s best friend. Perfect setup. We looked at a few places, none really fit. I went to see the 1 bedroom apartment that I have now lived in for nearly 4 years and I fell in love. Orange St. Busy with traffic, but a decent neighborhood, a decent landlord, a private feeling apartment on the 2nd floor at the back of the building. Built. In. Corner cupboard. I was in.
My girlfriend was there with me for about 8 months before I was on my own. My cat joined me from the beginning once I got him back from another friend who was watching over him during Kevin’s illness and my tenure at my parents. Orange St has been the longest place I have called home since I lived with my parents until I was 19. It’s where I allowed myself to become part of the community, where I placed roots, made friends with neighbors, walked to coffee shops, restaurants and bars. January 31, I will be leaving the city.
I love my new-to-me home – with the boy and our dog; but melancholy exists. My cat is in his new home with parents who aren’t allergic and can give him the attention he needs. My stuff, some of it, will come with me, others will go to friends also transitioning, and the rest to a garage sale or thrift store. Nearly 10 years in the city. Oh what a time it has been.
When I drove home tonight to retrieve my mail and a few necessities, I did not miss the hustle and bustle of the traffic that sometimes leaves me pounding the steering wheel. But I did miss that sense of being part of a community. I will miss bumping into someone I know nearly everytime I go out. I will leave behind a little bit of me in that city, I hope. I hope some part of me has contributed to that community that is still growing and evolving. While I can visit anytime, it won’t be the same. Sameness never sat well with me anyways.