Life Story

  1. Arriving and departing are pretty much the same. For me, at least.
  2. There was arriving, when I’d arrived after a three-thousand mile train trip and spent a month sleeping in a loft bed in a kitchen, and then moved into a flower room in an early-twentieth-century flop house called The Fridge. The flower room at The Fridge…—in there my mattress was a couch that didn’t fit my outstretched body, and so I slept in the fetal position for three months or so, or until I got myself a real mattress from God knows where.
  3. The train ride had been, as one one would expect, interesting. There had been Boston to Chicago, with the cheery, plump African-American conductor whose name I can’t possibly remember. She asked me for a cigarette in Buffalo, and then asked Frank for one somewhere else, maybe South Bend. Frank was my train-buddy. We rode together from Boston to Spokane, where our train finally split, one route to Seattle, the other, mine, to Portland. Along the way, we got drunk every night, played cards, smoked one another’s cigarettes, ate meals together, bought liquor (and smoked a joint) in Chicago together. Frank was a gem, and by the end we of course promised to stay in touch, but of course we never did.
  4. And then there was Portland, the glass room, winter with plastic on the French windows, a space heater, fires in the fireplace, and rain. The occasional snow.
  5. Or, no. It snowed once that winter.
  6. And then there were two-and-a-half more years in which many other things happened. Things that I don’t need to get into. Things-things.
  7. And so on September 1, 2009, I moved back into the glass room to paint a house and earn a paycheck. I moved back into The Fridge. My old house. But not my old house, my old-old house. My regular old house is now overrun with domesticity, and children; fine furniture and ginsu knives. This is the one where it all began, and where it will all end.
  8. In a week and a half, I will be packing up my 1984 Subaru hatch back with all of my possessions and I will be going East, through the Gorge and the Cascades, Montana, the Dakotas, through dairy country and the Rust Belt–to America.  And then to Montreal.  Where I’ll see if I can make it happen.
  9. It’ll be fun, and I’m excited.
  10. Wish me luck.
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11 responses to “Life Story

  1. maybe the difference is: you arrived as a federally-subsidized Empire Builder, you’ll leave as a disintegrating asian import? one-way track becomes a bohemoth highway system?
    and of course, all those thing-things that happened, making you silent but stronger…

  2. Dude! Montreal! Fuck yeah! Was thinking of moving back there next year.

  3. hell, knowing that car, i might even pray for you…

    i’m sure you know this already, but headphones on the highway are a saving grace. and i think you’ll come to appreciate my “air freshener” once you’re knee-deep in manure country.

    let me know if you need a place in southern idaho.

  4. I’d watch out for that ryannl guy (if that is his real name), as his advice about wearing headphones on the highway could net you a hefty fine if you drive by the fuzz and they’re in the mood to harass your Mick ass. (Which is to say, ‘taint legal.)

  5. Don’t listen to hawaiianpun–he doesn’t know anything. ryann with two n’s means she’s a lady you dumb fuck.

  6. I got a sound system installed on the Subaru, so no headphones required. Now, if I could just figure out how to get the fucking pin out of the fucking axle so that I could put the new one in (because someone broke the wheel boot on the front passenger’s side, probably in the same incident that gave the car a huge dent in the front [ahem, paging Ryann Lieben…]) then I’d be golden.

  7. wheel boot? i have no idea what you’re talking about. but yes, i’m sure it was my fault.

    sound system, whoa. VERY NICE.

  8. Tom, why am I learning of this through the internet. This is like hearing you’re pregnant on Facebook!

  9. Anonymous is mean… 😦

    Also, in my defense, without capitalization or other formatting indicators, there is no way to infer that any one letter in a particular internet pseudonym is affiliated with its preceding letters, rather than its succeeding letters. “ryannl” could just as easily stand for “Ryan Norman Luboff” as “Ryann L.”

    Also also, driving with headphones is, in fact, illegal, so even taking for granted all other ignorance, I do, at least, know one thing.

  10. Oh my God, of all the places to be having this never-ending conversation about my name—”Hey girl, did you realize, you have a boy’s name?” “Oh no, thanks, I’ve never heard that before, but I’ll certainly take it up with my parents next time I find it useful to blame them for ruining my life. Thanks so much for the tip.”—BLOGBYTOM is certainly among the last places I would have imagined.

    Then again, I’ve arrived at appointments and interviews, only to be greeted with an “Oh! I was expecting a guy,” to which I can hardly suppress my shock at their not figuring out my girlness when I SPOKE TO THEM ON THE PHONE, so I guess I really ought to be used to this.

    Yes, yes, you’re right, it’s ambiguous, ugh, story of my life. Maybe I should just change my blog name to ryannlwhichstandsforryannwithtwonslbecauseiamagirl, but that’s a bit unwieldy, no?

    In any case, this is totally irrelevant, and I have to apologize to you, Tom, for (inadvertently until now) co-opting your blog comments section. I hope your travels are going well. Please let us never speak of this again.

    One more thing, though, on the legality of headphones-driving: dude, have you ever driven through Montana? Exactly. So chill out.

  11. Yeah, whoa. Jesus Christ, guys. Let’s all just try to relax.

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