“Sarah, you look super cute today!” the barista exclaims as a tall woman in a sweater and pearl necklace walks into the shop. I’m facing away from the counter, so as soon as she walks past me, I can no longer see her. The conversation continues behind my back, and I can hear every word. Here’s what I know: Sarah does look super cute today. If this was Thomas Hobbes’ “state of nature,” I would probably kick her in the face and steal her sweater. Sarah is applying for a job. She knows the barista and at least two other people in the building. They are laughing. Sarah likes room for cream in her coffee. She likes giving relationship advice, too.
My back is to the counter, but I can see out a big window in front of me and another one on my right. I can’t hear anything that is going on outside, but I can see a dog and some people milling about. A couple of them are hugging. An old man put out a little bowl of water for the dog, and a little bird just stole a piece of bread from a big bird. Three children are jumping off a ledge where their father is sitting. Every time they make the jump, they act like they’ve just flown over the Atlantic. Their father joins in. He is barely in the air two seconds, but he makes the same jubilant face as his children when his feet touch the ground. The youngest child, a toddler, falls over from laughter. The father picks up all three children, puts them back on the ledge, and they do it all again.
A few days ago, I began moving to Cleveland. In a little over a week, my move will be complete, and I will commence the next chapter of my young life. Here’s what I know:
Furniture is essential. There are few things that are crazier than living without furniture. I did it once my senior year of college. I slept on an air mattress, and barely anything I owned was higher than two feet tall. Live like that for a year, and you start forgetting that you need to stand to use regular furniture. Sleeping on a hardwood floor is great and all, but I’m thinking it’s not something I want to continue doing…
Furniture is expensive. Dear god, is it expensive! I could buy a used couch, but then I’d have to find a way to transport it, which would also cost money, and at that point, why didn’t I just buy a new couch and have it delivered? Well, because buying new things is a little ridiculous when you can give old, storied things a new home. A home needs furniture, but furniture needs a truck and friends to help move it. In this particular situation, my extreme independence and inherent stubbornness prove to be my greatest faults. (I did, however, build a bookshelf out of concrete blocks and pieces of plywood. It looks pretty good, but I would not recommend it unless you are The Hulk.)
Biking is fun. Today, I decided to bike through downtown Cleveland to a coffee shop where I could sit and do some work. Biking is amazing. It’s like driving, but you get to see things. I could hear little bits of people’s conversations. “Yes, I got the eggs!” and “When are you coming home?” My heart beat a little faster when I saw Lake Erie on the horizon. Without my GPS yelling at me to turn left or right and when, this vast hole in my mental map of Cleveland is quickly filling in. Superior Avenue runs parallel to St. Clair. Prospect goes straight to East 4th. &c.
3.3mi is far. I don’t know any way to say this without making it seem like I am majorly unfit, but I was seriously winded by the time I arrived at my destination, a cute little place in the Market District. I was sweating buckets. My thumb was bleeding from where I’d pulled a hang nail at a traffic stop. At that moment, all I wanted to do was teleport back to my apartment. (Speaking of teleportation: we have iPhones, why don’t we have teleportals?) But I sat down. I drank some water and ate lunch on a bench in front of a pretty mural. I feel more revived after the necessary food and water intake, but I’m sort of dreading the ride home…
I know that the refreshment and joy I feel living in Cleveland is a honeymoon phase. When I studied abroad in Ireland, they issued warnings about a honeymoon phase, between the jetlag and the onset of culture shock. I know that some day I will be biking through the rain. I know that some day I will have to shovel snow off my car. But, right now, why can’t I just enjoy the fact that the sun is shining, the people around me are smiling, and I rescued a bumble bee from playing Sisyphys with a window?