Deleted Scenes: Distance

My wife and I recently moved so she could start a new job. It’s the first time since I’ve been conscious enough to know where I am that I haven’t. That is to say, the first time I’ve ever lived somewhere that wasn’t my home, North Jersey, Morris Country—or hell, off Rt. 46, if you want to be that specific about it. I’ve done a decent bit of traveling over the years, but always had home base to return to. I knew where to get good pasta, good Polish food. I knew back roads, highways, a couple secret passages. It was a place I lived forever and now I don’t live there anymore.

This has its ups and downs.

I resolved early on that I wasn’t going to be terrified of the change. She got the job months before we moved, so it wasn’t a sudden thing by any means. Oh, the months we spent looking for a house, only to fail, fail, fail again. Oh, the anxiousness to go, of going. The family drama. Work drama. Gotta go. And then we went. It’s been over a month now. I’m still tired.

But it was going to be a good change and largely it has been, but more than a month in, I’ve moved on from the point of being curious and fascinated at the freshness of my surroundings to just plain annoyed at my lack of familiarity with them. Seriously, I’ve been here a month. How the hell do I not know where to get decent Chinese takeout? How can I not have imprinted in my memory the route to at least three record stores, every venue in my proximity where I could possibly be interested in seeing a show? Why do I suck at this?

I’ve sucked at a great many things in my time, but this is a new one. I suppose realistically I couldn’t have expected to hit up this move like a pro—it’s something I’ve never done before and usually being a “pro” anything takes some practice—but wow. I’m bored with nowhere to go but too anxious to go anywhere because I haven’t already been. Tired all the time but nerved-out because I never leave this place. Every time I go somewhere and don’t need the GPS to get back, I feel like I should get a prize. But I don’t, of course.

And why not? Because this is entry-level humanity shit. People have been moving since the reason they picked up from one place and went to another was because there was a bunch of lions chasing them across the African savannah. Millions upon millions of years. So for me to be out of my comfort zone, spend my days exhausted from nights up late feeling bad for myself is twice as disconcerting, considering my species ancestors were doing this when they were more monkeys than human beings, and apparently doing better at it than I am now.

Not that they had to find good takeout, but you know what I mean.

I’ll persist though, not that I have a choice either way in so doing—it’s that or, what, not?—and while I know this will all get worked out and eventually I’ll think of “getting settled” as something that happened years ago while I hammer down an order of General Tso’s on my way to yet another CD shop, right now that kind of gratification seems a long time off and I’m not sure how to get from point A to point B on it. The GPS, unsurprisingly, is no help.

JJ Koczan