The other night, as we sat on the porch watching the sun set into the foothills, Bix announced that he had itchy feet.
“Well,” I told him, “We finally have insurance. Maybe you should get that checked out.”
He looked at me like I’d sprouted another ear in the middle of my forehead.
“You’ve never heard that before?”
I get it now. Itchy feet. Like, colloquially. It’s time to ramble.
It’s true. I can’t remember the last time the spring thaw didn’t coincide with a cross-country move.
But this spring, and for the foreseeable future, we’re not going anywhere. We have things keeping us in Golden—steady jobs, primarily, and the accompanying insurance. We have roots here.
My own itchy feet have me thinking of all the places I’ve left behind in the last few years.
My first year in Alaska, I lived in Wasilla, an Anchorage exurb from which you cannot see Russia and which has little else to recommend it unless you’re a big Sarah Palin fan. My apartment itself was nice enough, though you couldn’t walk more than a few feet without stumbling over a used condom or needle, and someone once wrote “EAT SHIT” in the snow on my windshield and I’ve never gotten over wondering why.
When Bix first moved to Anchorage, we lived in a Soviet-style concrete apartment building with few windows and fewer working pipes. Someone taped a note to the keyed outer entry door with a band-aid once. It said, “Bob. Call me. I have your stuff.” I liked watching the planes take off from what passed for a living room, but the regular sirens in our parking lot, presumably to arrest someone for having a vanity plate that read “VIOL8R,” weren’t worth the tradeoff.
The following winter, our apartment felt like a godsend. It was only a block from the trails we used to commute to work and had in-unit laundry. Even when the snow melted and revealed that our neighbors, had not, in fact, been obeying scoop law—signs posted everywhere depicted a dog, hunched over a dookie of epic proportions, and admonished owners to “AVOID DISEASE AND FINES PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG”—it was nice. No needles. It felt like home.
Each time I left one of these hovels, I felt a strange mix of relief and consternation. (The first time I left Alaska, to be fair, I was pretty sure I wasn’t coming back.) It’s funny to spend so much time desperately wishing to be out of the darkness, both literal and figurative, then feel some remorse when it’s over and things are easier again.
Our apartment in Golden is the basement unit of a dumpy duplex with walls of decaying flesh-colored stucco. It’s not the sort of house you’d buy to live in; it was built to accommodate sets of college students for a year or two before having its carpets steam-cleaned and being posted on Craigslist. It’s a house, not a home.
Which is fine with me. We don’t spend all that much time here, and when we do, it’s reasonably cozy. The water pressure is garbage, but it’s near our favorite trails and bars and coffee shops, so I guess it’s a tradeoff.
It seems odd to me that, as the daffodils pop up and the snowstorms turn to thundershowers, I should feel homesick for the place I was so desperate to leave each of those last three springs—particularly in such close proximity to the place I’ve always called home. These itchy feet have a lot keeping them here, but someday, I think, it’ll be time to ramble again. Still, after half a dozen moves in half as many years, it’s nice not to be boxing everything up again.
For now, that’s enough. Our back porch looks into the Front Range, at Lookout Mountain, at the mouth of Clear Creek Canyon. On Sunday mornings, we sit back there and drink our coffee and make our plans. Spring fever isn’t so bad: it keeps me moving. It’s just that this spring, instead of moving four thousand miles, I’m moving out my front door.