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A Philadelphian Peripatetic

I recently moved for the fifth time in just shy of two years and I’ve decided that this is going to be my final resting place. Not only will I complete the full year of the lease that I signed, but mark my words, I’m never moving again. I absolutely cannot be bothered to. If this building gets demolished, I’ll be going down with it. Rent increases 5% with each renewal of the lease (a rule I find silly), so by the time I die at the age of 101, which I have decided will be the case, the monthly payment will be $67,261. A small price to pay for the worldly comfort of never seeing my entire life consolidated into a shockingly small amount of boxes and suitcases ever again. Not to mention the chore of washing the dust and newsprint off of every single dish and fork. If you care to do the math to figure out how much my boyfriend and I currently pay, you’ve earned the right to know that information. And you definitely got a higher SAT score than me.

A peripatetic is a person who travels from place to place for short periods of time. Synonyms include nomad, which sounds awfully hip and stylish, and vagrant, which is just plain crass. I know this word not because I have a particularly impressive vocabulary (see: SAT score), but because it was used in a book I read last week and I had to look it up. I quickly realized that I’ve essentially been a peripatetic since I was 12 years old. My parents got divorced and the living out of backpacks began, with my dad moving locally, yet inconveniently, every few years. I went to a two-year college in California that brought me to 7 different countries within that time. Shortly after, I moved to Philadelphia, but even so, I met my boyfriend within a week and continued to pack bags for sleepovers and long weekends. You’d think that packing is in my blood by this point, but I still somehow carry much more than I need with me on a day trip.

And now, for the first time in my adult life, I truly have only one place to hang my hat. It’s about time because hats make me look like a little boy with a dirty secret. Against my instincts, I am able to unpack and unload; I can finally settle in and grow some roots. I’m currently between jobs (unemployed) so it feels a lot more like retirement than I had expected. Mostly, I’ve been scavenging for odds and ends on Facebook Marketplace, a platform that deserves its own essay independent of this. I spend about 75% of my time in the kitchen by virtue of being vegan and also being an Italian grandmother masquerading in a meek, pale frame. But none of that is new.

What is new is the implied permanence of a year-long lease, though that has not stopped me before from prematurely scampering off to some new place to focus more energy on decorating than on development. I want this next year to be a test, not only of my relationship but also of my capacity for consistency. I claim to fear change, but I secretly can’t get enough of the stuff. This might explain why I’ve been to 4 different colleges (so far) and can’t seem to own an article of clothing for six months before selling it and buying a replacement. Such are different manifestations of my promiscuous, peripatetic nature.

So contrary to any predisposition, I will be renewing this lease if it’s the last thing I do, not only because I love this apartment, but because my dad definitely won’t offer to drive the U-Haul for me again.

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