Last weekend, three years to the day after we moved to Portsmouth, Cody and I moved what remained of our things to western Massachusetts. We're officially Massholes now, no longer New Hampshire residents willing to live free or die. Now we drive defensively or die.
Technically I'm a Masshole again. Cody is one for the first time. And given that I'm jobless and have spent the last few weeks at home with him, I get the feeling he's a fan of the place.
It was harder than I thought it would be to say goodbye to Portsmouth. Leading up the move, leaving felt right. Moving felt like going home. An hour and a half away from home, but closer to home than I have been in twelve years. And Portsmouth had started to wear on me. The downtown development, the constant lack of parking, the older-than-anticipated population once the summer crowd cleared every year. I was happy to be leaving, happy to moving in with J., happy, too, to be going to a place with a thriving creative community. It's where Emily Dickinson lived! It's where Sylvia Plath studied! I was moving to the place of my poetic teenage dreams.
But standing in my empty apartment--the white space on the walls where my pictures had hung, the divots in the carpet where my coffee table had stood--I thought about how the past three years in Portsmouth had figured in my life. After graduating college and going to work for my dad in Florida and then moving to Maryland to be closer to my mother, Portsmouth was the first move I made as an adult that was solely for me. It was where I wanted to live, where I wanted to go to school, where I wanted to start my career as a writer.
I know what I want for my life at this point: I want to keep sending work out, I want to apply to residencies, and I want to keep writing. But I also want J. I want a life with him as much as I want anything else.
So leaving Portsmouth was necessary. Leaving a time in my life when I was entirely independent, when I didn't have to compromise about how to wash the dishes or who walks the dog or when to take out the trash, was necessary too.
I know I am fortunate to have had the last three years in New Hampshire to myself. I know many women who never have that. My mother never had that. My sister never had that either. But I also know I've gained more in this move than I've lost. There's someone else to wash the dishes now, someone else to walk the dog. There's someone to take out the trash, thank god, and there's someone to surprise me with a fourteen-pack of Costco dogs the night before my thesis is due. There's someone else besides me. There's someone else beside me, and I know I am fortunate to have that too.