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40 T/D/Y #30: Moving Out

I lived at home with my parents for a long, long time. Because Thomas More College was just a couple miles away from my home, it made sense to continue living at home and commute to school rather than spend the extra money for the experience of living on campus. My first time living away from home was the semester I spent in Rome. When I graduated from college, with no clear plan or job prospects, I started working full-time at the supermarket deli, which certainly did not provide enough income for me to move out, even if sharing an apartment. And so I stayed home.

A few times my friend Jay and I talked about getting an apartment together, but nothing ever came of it. I believe the time we talked about it most seriously was a few months before he moved to Denver for a year or so. My other friends had either already left town or else were in similar situations, and I had no interest in finding a place with a bunch of strangers.

Although I said my job certainly did not provide enough income for my own place, in fact I did start paying rent to my parents; less than I would have for an apartment elsewhere, but rent nonetheless. And when I started working for the Postal Service in 1995, my income more or less doubled—but then I started training in Chung Moo Doe late that year, and that ate up a lot of the added income.

Once I started working in Boston in 1999, I finally had both income and reason to think about moving out. My daily morning commute from Nashua took at least an hour to drive the 32 miles down to Alewife Station in Cambridge, the northern end of the Red Line subway, where there was a parking garage that filled up by 9. Frequently, traffic would make the drive longer. The subway itself took about another 20 minutes to get me in to downtown, where the office was just a few blocks away from the station. In the evening, traffic usually flowed better, and I seldom had great difficulty getting back in time for my martial-arts classes or orchestra rehearsal, but I didn’t like the rush. When I didn’t have something scheduled, I tended to stay in the office later just so that I wasn’t sitting in traffic as much.

After turning 30 years old, I decided that I should move out that year, but for months it was a decision without a plan. I didn’t put effort into looking for an apartment or even really think specifically about where I wanted to move, I just knew I wanted to move close to Boston. Fortunately, my friend Doug, who was already working and living with friends in Boston, knew that I was finally mentally ready to make the change. When he heard that another friend of his, James, was looking for a roommate, he suggested I should meet James and check things out. It turned out that James was going to be renting a three-bedroom house in Medford, a suburb just north of Boston, and needed a third roommate. The house was in a good location with easy access by bus to both the Red and Orange Lines and parking for my car. James seemed like a good guy, so we agreed to give it a try.

We had one major misadventure while living in that house. The house was located at the southern end of the Middlesex Fells, a wilderness area and major part of the local watershed. The winter of 2000-2001 was very snowy, and early in the spring we had a week of very heavy rain on top of the existing snow and ice. A nearby culvert for the creek running through the Fells backed up, and one morning I got up to discover the entire Fells was now draining itself through the basement of our house and the neighbors’. Fortunately I discovered the problem just as the water was starting to come into the house, as James had many boxes of his belongings in the basement. With some frantic work we were able to move most of the boxes upstairs or onto the higher shelves before they were damaged, though I was thigh-deep in freezing cold water by the time we finished. I also had the presence of mind to realize I had to move my car, finding the water lapping up just below the door when I got to it. Later that day our third roommate, Scott, ended up being on TV as local news reporters came by to survey the situation; our basement must have had a good five feet of water in it for a couple days before it all drained.

Aside from that, I generally had a good time living in that house in Medford. My commute still took around 45 minutes, as I had to walk to catch a bus to get to the subway, but that was at least half the time it had been taking before and I wasn’t spending that time crawling along the highway in traffic. I could also easily go out for the night, whether catching a show or going dancing, and be home before 2 AM. James proved to be a complicated person but we always got along well, and I also got along with Scott, who mostly kept to himself. I also enjoyed finally being out on my own rather than living with my parents, and at the same time having the cushion of roommates instead of being all by myself.

[Note: I have back-dated this entry to the 21st. Despite spending the whole day traveling back to my parents' home for the holidays, I managed to have enough time to write the entry while waiting for my delayed flight in Newark... only to be confounded when I got to their house and was unable to get my computer to connect to the Internet. So I'm back-dating it to maintain the post-per-day plan, because it was done and it's not my fault I couldn't get it online.]

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