Eighteen months ago, I moved to Colorado's 11th-largest city from a stabilized one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.
My friends called my decision "brave." My soon-to-be ex Brooklyn nabes called me "nuts."
All of them had a point.
In the days of pioneering and frontiers, The American Dream was made of Big Shifts to New Places.
The Mover was a romantic figure, dressed in gingham and guts; accessorized with moxie and just a touch of moonshine - and a long, sharp razor in case of snake-bite.
But times change.
In our age of nano-secondary exchanges, Staying Put has a romance, too.
It's the Philip Glass of life melodies: hypnotically beautiful in its patterned notes, byways and illusions of sanity.
Lest you assume that I'm a Mover By Nature, the truth is: I'm more of a stayer-putter than a Pioneer at heart.
My love of Don't-Go-ness may be part of my Jewish heritage - or my misunderstanding of it.
"You wanna experience the joy of moving Miss Fancy Pants?" I can hear the non-existent Jackie Mason-esque branch of my family tree telling me.
"Test-drive a pogrom, and get back to us about your shpilcha-tsurris!"
But it's even truer, I think, to say that I'm a wimp by choice. Dust-bunnies are my totem animal.
As a dust-bunnista, I had envisioned my move West as One Big Haul - a well-mapped out smooth move - a smoove leading to a long and lovely domestic stillness.
I didn't imagine what would happen to me once I settled in. But who could?
Ten months into my stay, the neo-pagans-next-door to the house in the country that I shared with a fire juggler (hello, East Coast irony), a wanna-be-acupuncturist oil-rig worker and a reclusive ex-Grateful Deadhead, blew up their garage at 4 am.
The fire evacuated both houses, burned down most of the pagans', left my dog with a burning ember in her eye and reinforced the genius of:
a) my dog's ophthamologist
b) wired smoke detectors
c) renter's insurance.
When the embers had cooled (and the Red Cross let me back into my formerly now and newly former old place), my dog and I moved to a 10,000 sq. ft mansion on a hill as human/canine house-sitters.
Our eight-month tenure in the mansion (which came with the unintended feature of owner's relative with huge-o marijuana habit on premises) fulfilled the Extreme Home Makeover Fantasy and habit I'd brought from Brooklyn of wondering what it would be like to inhabit a home with a) heat b) a wired-in smoke detector and a bonus feature of c) a koi pond.
It also reinforced the wisdom of the heretofore-unknown to-me parable, "People in glass houses won't sit well with owners' stoned."
All good things must end. And so did my house-sit.
Last month, I moved, pneumonia-clad, to a week-by-week rental infused with pan-national Goddess iconography and a morose ex-computer scientist co-renter obsessed with ghee. From there, I searched for a sane-ish, longish place to live.
Finding one's house-share means finding strangers you can live with - and who can live with you, of course.
In my search for a new place to live, I considered and was considered by, the following characters:
1) The Artist and His Grown Son: "I guess we just don't think about raising the shades. The trucks outside aren't so bad once you get used to them. And the stereo sort of drowns them out anyway."
2) The Woman With The Roommate Who Camped in the Yard Before Moving Out For No Reason. "Well, actually, we did have this big fight about..."
3) The Couple Who Used Their Backyard as a Dual-Dog Family Poop Museum.
4) The Architect: "I'm hoping to do an 80s screening room thing in the basement. With the right person. At some point. Which I'll pick. Whenever."
5) The Self-Defined "Oscar Madison"-y Girl with the Huge White Cat: "I didn't mention the cat? And you're allergic cats? But maybe not mine? And if you were, there's homeopathy? Or you could get, like, shots?"
6) The Guy With the Trailer...and the Fake Screen Name: "Because I do some things online that I don't want people to know it's me doing. So, um, do wanna come by today or tomorrow?"
It's hard to interview yourself, of course. But in each situation that didn't work out, I can see the How of Me that didn't work with Why of Them.
My dog, bb, for instance. The way she rubbed her butt against the architect's new Oatmeal Maize carpet sample probably didn't work for him. (The fact that she had never done something like this before or since, might have been a sign, my Western friends say. To me, it was a sign that I was so stressed from the Unknowns of Moving Again that I hadn't noticed my dear dog's dangling dingleberry. But whatever).
The good news is, that after weeks of visiting Places Where I Didn't Fit In, I found A Place Where I Fit.
For now, at least.
In four months, my new landlord may choose to raze my latest home.
But for now, there's a fire alarm. My dog sleeps well. And my roommates and I share a love of good food, a nightly beer, clean spaces and the belief that when Life makes you move...
Let it be Smoooove.