Waiting for a Permanent

I live in a transient town, at least for those of us in our 20s. There’s an ample supply of intoxicated undergrads, a lesser supply of educated grads and Ph.D.s, and a nonexistent supply of unattached young professionals. The population rises again with rooted families and retirees.

So when does this place become a permanent one? Buying a home involves commitment (I rent). Entering a relationship involves commitment (I’m single). Townhomes may be plentiful, but my disposable income is not. And potential partners are limited. I’ve been approached by popped-collars with backwards ball caps and men old enough to be my father. Until I find a match in one of these two areas, this town is temporary.

The dilemma is how long should I wait for a permanent to emerge before packing my life and settling into a new one? I’ve accumulated enough work experience to qualify for desirable positions, and I’m comfortable creating conversation with strangers. I could easily find a new volleyball league and volunteer group to join. And there are microbreweries and jazz clubs and coffee shops waiting for me to open the door. Cobblestone streets and hiking trails waiting for me to explore.

My life currently consists of cozy red couches and boxes of cereal and framed photographs from Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, London, Paris. It includes vintage jewelry inherited from a great-aunt and the black and white bedroom furniture that Dad helped me to refinish. A coffee pot, a fluffy white comforter, cookbooks, candles. Wine glasses, Vera Bradley bags, a snowman collection, a yoga mat. Items and memories that fit neatly into cardboard boxes. How exciting it would be to move those boxes further than one block or one floor.

I’ve moved very few times in my life. Across the state before I began kindergarten and back to the zip code of my parents’ youth in time for first grade. Twelve years in the same school district followed by four years in a college town not unlike my hometown with corn fields and cow pastures. While most of my friends chose to move northeast, southeast, and westward after graduation, I decided to comfortably settle into the next chapter among familiar surroundings.

Sometimes my eyes wander to upcoming sentences, anxious to find out how the story ends. But if I skip ahead to the final paragraph, the space between becomes less enjoyable. The lines leading to the conclusion are where the action happens, where the the character’s stengths and weaknesses are revealed.

Perhaps it’s time to open a new page filled with fresh sights and sounds and scents. It may be another temporary. But I’ve decided that I’m okay with making a trail of temporaries because I know they’re leading to a permanent that’s worth waiting for.

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