Start Over

Can we all start over
After the final chapter's end?
When it all starts over
How do these scars begin to mend?


I moved apartments the other week, on some philosopher's birthday or the anniversary of a national tragedy, to a nice studio in a nice neighborhood back on the correct side of the Caldecott Tunnel (now that I've learned my lesson about which side of the tunnel is correct).

I had been making noises about leaving Berkeley for a while, but kept not getting around to it until my hand was forced by my roommate moving out. Insofar as I was complaining about the political culture, you might think that I should have fled the Bay entirely, to a different region which might have different kinds of people. Reno, probably. Or Austin (which may be the Berkeley of Texas, but at least it's the Berkeley of Texas).

I don't think a longer move was necessary. I mostly live on the internet, anyway: insofar as "Berkeley" was a metonym for the egregore, it's unclear how much leaving the literal city would help.

Although—it may not be entirely a coincidence that I feel better having left the literal city? Moving is a Schelling point for new beginnings, new habits. The sense that my life is over hasn't fully gone away, but now I have more hope in finding meaning and not just pleasure in this afterlife while it lasts, perhaps fueled by regret-based superpowers.

I'm happy. I have a lot of writing to do.

In my old neighborhood in the part of Berkeley that's secretly Oakland (the city limits forming a penninsula just around my apartment), there used to be a "free store" on the corner—shelves for people to leave unwanted consumer goods and to take them to a good home. It stopped being a thing shortly before I left, due to some combination of adverse attention from city municipal code inspectors, and a fire.

In memoriam, there was a butcher-paper sign on the fence with a pen on a string, asking community members to write a note on what the free store had meant to them.

One of the messages read:

i'm a (very broke) trans woman
and i don't often feel great about
my body, but there are a few items
that i found here that fit me in a way
thats very affirming to me

There are so many questions (of the rhetorical or probing varieties) I could ask of my neighbor who wrote that message. (Why mention being trans at all? Don't many cis women often not feel great about their bodies? What do you think are the differences between you and a man who might have written a message starting "I'm a (very broke) transvestite"? Or is it just that such a man's sense of public decency would bid him keep quiet ... or, just possibly, write a message more like yours?)

But—not my neighbor.

I don't live there anymore.

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