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Five Minutes to Departure

So long, 9th St.

These things are supposed to be marked by ritual: in about 12 hours I'm leaving this apartment, where I've lived since 1997, and moving into a new place with my girlfriend. But instead of sitting around drinking a scotch and reflecting fondly on moments past, I'm staring at a large pile of stuff on the floor and feeling a desperate need to sleep. Luckily the mattress is leaning against a wall and there is no way to just...rest...for a moment. The stuff on the floor comes first.

But I still feel that it's time for a montage. I come in the door, 22 years old, young enough for my parents to help me move. The next scene shows men delivering my futon. Then I lug some wood up the stairs to build a bookcase. My hair starts to gray; wrinkles appear around my eyes. I hug a woman and she walks away. There's a shot of a group of friends, each holding a wineglass, all laughing as I wear a wig. Etc. Then a shot as I nod slowly and close the door behind me, on my way.

Of course the montage could just as easily show me crying face-down on the bed, or the time I ate an entire chicken and a loaf of bread while watching eight Babylon 5 episodes (downloaded via Bittorrent) in a sitting. Fade to a pile of cigarette butts in a coffee cup; fade to the button popping off a pair of ill-fitting slacks as I sweat and curse, desperately try to get ready in time to make a friend's wedding in the city. Fade to me vomiting white wine in the toilet after that wedding. From outside the half-open bathroom door, my neighbor asks if I'm okay. (When I walked out of the bathroom, he said later, I was naked.)

Depending on how you cut the film, I was mostly happy; I was mostly sad; I made good choices; I made bad choices. Regardless, I've got to clean the bathroom, and my neighbor is going to help me wash the last of the dishes. There's no more time for writing or saying goodbye to the last eight years, just a pile of stuff in the middle of the room.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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