Since 1995, I have moved five times. On Sunday, it will be six, as I move from Andover to Worcester.
I can vividly remember when I left a place — more so than when I arrived at a place — each time.
In August 1995, I stood in the doorway of my bedroom in the house I grew up in on Bancroft Road and looked around for the last time. All my things were packed into a U-Haul trailer. I was on my way to Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, to start a masters’ degree in history program at Villanova University. I had planned to leave on the Monday, but Dad (who would accompany me to Pennsylvania) suddenly thought it was best to leave that very Sunday. I agreed. I stood at the doorway and looked into my bedroom, which I’d occupied since 1988 when my parents left the room and moved downstairs to the addition they’d had built (in place of the old Den). It was a large room, with two closets — one a walk-in with access to the attic — and a balcony. A simple patterned wallpaper covered the walls, and a blue carpet the floor. I looked at the small patch of wallpaper that covered the hole in the wall that I’d punched in a moment of rage (my plans for a New Year’s Eve were cancelled rather suddenly, and I was angry that I’d be alone). I looked at the balcony door, and thought of the times I’d sneaked out there for a cigarette before my parents knew I smoked. When I moved into that room, my parents were married. When I left it, they were divorced. I was afraid to move to a place where I knew absolutely no one, but excited as well. Two days before I moved, actor John Candy died of a heart-attack in Mexico.
In July of 1997, I packed up my apartment in Conshohocken to move to Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. My friend from Villanova Kim and her husband Jeff (now divorced) helped me move. I stood in the doorway at the last moment and looked about, the memories of that place flooding my mind. Two great years at Villanova, now completed. I had a masters’ degree and a job at Royal Bank because I didn’t want to leave Pennsylvania. Most of my friends were there, including my best friend in the world, Krissy — we were separated at birth, of that I am sure. Two of the best years of my life had passed in that very apartment. The night before I left, Princess Diana was killed in the car accident.
In June of 1998, I packed up my apartment in Drexel Hill to move back to Bancroft Road. I had been accepted to Boston College’s Ph.D. program in history. This apartment was much smaller than the one in Conshohocken. Only three rooms: living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. I was happy to leave my job at Royal Bank behind; it had been a nightmare. I hated every moment of it, principally because of my “boss,” Christina Marzianni. Words cannot describe how evil that woman was — and probably still is. My hair turned white because of her. Despite her, I had a good year there. I was sorry to go. Krissy, Kim and Jeff and I went out to a bar the night before I left. Krissy drove me home, and, as I entered my apartment, she called to me: “I love you, Shawn.” I replied in kind, and raced up stairs and collapsed into bed and cried like never before. Then the phone rang. It was Krissy. “I couldn’t let you go without one more phonecall,” she said through her own tears. We talked for a few minutes until I became unable to speak, so great was my grief at leaving. My brother arrived the next morning, and we packed the U-Haul. He drove my car back to Massachusetts, and I drove the U-Haul. At the last moment, I stood at the top of the stairs and looked around. Another good year, now over. That year, I’d gone to the best Halloween Party I’d ever been to. I went as Uncle Fester from “The Addams Family”; Krissy, radiant in her perfection, as Wednesday; her friend Lorry as Mrs. Addams, and her boyfriend Mark as Mr. Addams. Two days before I moved, Phil Hartman was murdered by his wife.
I then moved from Bancroft Road to Boston. I don’t remember that move much. But I do remember moving back to Andover from Boston in 2002, but to my mother new house. At that point, in June of 2002, I was a ruined man. I was $20,000 in debt. I could no longer even answer my phone, unless I wanted to deal with abusive creditors. I was exhausted and humiliated. My apartment complex refused to renew my lease. I called my Mother and asked if I could stay with her; she agreed readily. I limped home, with little hope and less money. I had failed. When I moved from Andover to Boston, and then from Boston to Andover, celebrities died, although I cannot remember who.
[edit: Andover to Boston: E.G. Marshall; Boston to Andover: Rosemary Clooney.]
I fixed all that over the last six years. I also completed my Ph.D. and graduated from Boston College, and found a fellowship in Worcester.
On Sunday, I leave her house for my new digs in Worcester. Things are good now. What will I think about, contemplate, remember, before I leave on that day? I don’t know as yet. What celebrity will die?
UPDATE – Sunday, 18 May, 9:18 p.m. — all settled in now; unless Ted Kennedy dies sometime soon, it looks like no celebrity deaths will be connected with my move for the first times since 1995!