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Born a Ramblin' Man

With another deadline looming overhead like a leering, drooling vulture, I squeeze myself into the corner of the basement I call The Dungeon, The Pit, or, when I'm enormously confused, The Office, and start tapping away. I'm actually early -- my due date is a distant five days away. But I've got things to do. The mission is clear. We're moving. But first, we're taking a short vacation.

The trip's a minor distraction. No problems here. My Significant Other has to conduct several business meetings at various locations in Eastern Québec. Most of these places have beaches. One town is having a Puppet Festival. It's summer. The boy and I are going, too. Wife works -- we play. Delicious.

Returning to our current address to confront The Move doesn't scare us. We're good at this. Since S.O. and I met, almost ten years ago, we've had two addresses in Montréal, four in Edmonton, and we're now heading into our second address in Our Nation's Capital.

In an earlier life (before S.O.), The Road took me from Whitehorse, Yukon to McNabb's Island, Nova Scotia to Clinton, Copper Cliff, Val Caron, Sault Ste. Marie, back to Val Caron, Sudbury, and then to Toronto (all in Ontario). From Toronto, it was on to Edmonton, Alberta. A brief respite back in Val Caron launched me towards Winnipeg, Manitoba, then Edmonton, back to Winnipeg, returned to Edmonton, then split to live in Yellowknife, capital of the magnificent and beautifully bizarre Northwest Territories. Business called from Toronto, burned out quickly and popped me out on the French side of the Ontario-Québec border, in the legendary city of Montréal. It was here I met my match -- a woman who could pack a whole bedroom into an empty five kilogram onion rings box.

I have moved cross-country with everything I owned: in a '77 Chevy van (I still miss old Silver), by tractor trailer, by train, in the original VW Beetle, and the move from Montréal to Edmonton was done mostly via Canada Post! (Our two cats got to fly out by themselves, along with my guitar and an antique trunk. We didn't bring furniture.) This is a minor move -- all in-town. But I try to look at it through four-and-a-half-year-old Julien's eyes. And then the scars begin to itch a little, and I slide backwards through time...

I was born in the Yukon because of my father. He was a pilot in the Air Force. I can't say why we moved from there to a little island off the coast of Nova Scotia. (I believe it's classified.) After McNabb's Island, Dad was no longer in the Air Force, and we moved around Ontario a bit. For the kid I was, going to different schools, making friends, leaving friends, was a drag. Some places I liked better than others, but what I wanted most of all was to stay somewhere.

And almost everywhere we lived, out popped another baby. I was the first born, in Whitehorse, and then Rick came along just before we made the drive to Nova Scotia. Dave showed up there. He used to like drinking the ocean water. Off to live in a trailer park in Clinton, Ontario, and baby bro' Tim makes his appearance. Up to Sudbury where lovely sister Carolyn was born, while Dad and the rest of us kids sat waiting on the rocks outside of the hospital, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken. Don't ask me why I remember the chicken; it's just one of those things that staples itself to your memory.

So, at least I did most of my schooling in the Sudbury area. Went all through high school without changing schools. I still see dear old friends from back then when I go to visit my mom. But then it was time to give college a try, so it was off to Toronto and art school. Got through first year, then went out west to get a summer job. (Now there's a story.) Didn't get back to Ontario for several years, and when I did, it was only for a couple of months and I went back out west.

Our fine young son is taking everything in stride. We've prepped him for months. We've told him all of the things that are going to happen during the move, and how much work we would have to do. We've had kids' books from the library that dealt with moving. He came with me when I was driving around all the different neighbourhoods, looking for "For Rent" signs. He came with us to all of the places we looked at. He is happy that he will be within walking distance to his new friends, Declan and baby Curtis. One of the kids from his class also lives within a few blocks.

One of our biggest concerns was whether Julien would be able to stay in the same school or not. He made good friends. We like the kids, the teachers, and the way the school does (most) things. His school goes up to Grade 6. I hope he can stay there, and be with most of those same kids when he moves up to the next school. I guess this means that I hope we can stay here -- in this city -- for more than a few years.

Meanwhile, I'm surrounded by boxes. Some full, some empty, some half-full and on standby. There's stuff all over the floor in pseudo-piles, organized by category. There's the "If Not Sold in Garage Sale it goes in Garbage" corner; the shoeboxes of tape cassettes; "Electrical"; "Computer Software"; "Computer Hardware"; the "Sort and Trash" pile; "Office Supplies"; my bike; and all the bags of "No-longer-keepable Stuff that is going to the Recycling Bins." Various stacks of papers have crept to my very elbows on the old teacher's desk and tables I work on. Moving exposes my past and begs me to correct my course into the future.

I carry around the most ridiculous things. Sentiment is like a second skin. I have boxes of bits of paper with addresses and phone numbers of people whose names I no longer recognize; memorabilia from good times with people I will always remember and miss; stacks of yellowing newspapers that I'm hoping my son may some day find interesting as a bonus insight into history; t-shirts with the attended event's name on it; ticket stubs to all the rock concerts, plays, and sporting events I ever attended; paid bills (you never know when you might have to come up with that proof of payment!); and pretty well every card and letter anyone has ever sent me.

And, of course, there's my record collection. I can't wait for the day I eventually open those boxes and play something on a turntable. I think that will probably be the day that I know I will finally be staying somewhere. But, you know what? Every one of those vinyl albums will be warped, and I'll just throw them out.

© 2005 - 2012 Hal Levy and the above captioned author.