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On Moving Targets and Homes

Six Previous Movements

1

On February 2017, I had been unemployed for 4 months and money was starting to run low. I was living in downtown Mexico City, which had the immense advantage of having lots and lots of public transport options. Within 2 blocks I had

  • 2 subway lines,
  • 2 rapid bus lines,
  • 3 Ecobici (shared bicycles) stations,
  • 3 medium-sized bus lines,
  • A single 24-hour taxi/cab site1

The main disadvantage is, as one might guess, was that it was relatively expensive—rent alone was something like 30% of my monthly income—and without a regular money input, I quickly ran out of funds. It was time to move.

But I wanted some kind of miracle to materialize. Anything. A few days after Valentine’s 2017 I moved to another, slightly cheaper boarding house and burned through some more money.

2

That week, a good friend of mine offered me to be her housekeeper for two months while she had to travel for work. She couldn’t pay me but in kind: free boarding and all-access to her neglected pantry. I immediately agreed.

In the first week of March I packed all my clothes and books and moved to her house, down in the great city’s deep south. Then started two months of house cleaning and pet keeping while I looked for something else. Nothing came.

3

The two months came and went and both of us had to vacate the premises.2 I resolved to move back with Mom while I figured out what to do next. A friend of mine agreed to move me after a negotiation of a beer-based futures contract. Mom was pleased to have me back, but I felt like a failure. Imagine that, crawling back to the den with my tail between my legs.

4

Mom suggested that, since I have no kinds and lots of free time, now was the time to actually apply to Grad School. I decided to re-review that fever dream and found out that three application deadlines were just about to expire. Two weeks, a million emails and some sleepless night later I found out that I was accepted to the preliminary courses of a Masters program. But it was in another state.

Over the weekend after Mother’s Day3 my brother helped me move two suitcases full of clothes to his student dorm room. I stayed in an hotel overnight, before moving to another boarding house.

5

The trip from my new home to the Institute was brutal. Time-wise it wasn’t that bad—after all, 1.5-hour long commutes were common in the big City—but I had to wait in unmarked bus stops, with no protection from the elements and hoping no one would try to pull out a knife on me.

Two weeks after starting the courses, a few of us started touring the tiny semi-rural town looking for closer accommodation. I found a nice place: living within walking distance was worth the increased price.

6

I was accepted. I received a scholarship. The small one-bedroom apartment soon started looking like an actual living place, with actual kitchen utensils, a small but robust fridge, even decorative posters. For the first time since 2011, I had an actual proper place to call home, something beyond a bed and a chair.

It was supposed to be the start of something good. Or that was what I kept telling myself.

The seventh move

December 2019.

The past few months I had been living on a combination of the remains of my scholarship and some help from home. The thesis had no end in sight. Maybe it’s time to start thinking of a new strategy.

We celebrated mom’s 60th birthday in January 2020 and she asked me to reconsider living with her. I vowed to move back if I found nothing by April.

Shortly after, news about this possible global pandemic started to become more and more common. I fell into another depressive episode for a few weeks and February was lost, productivity-wise.

Mom suggested that huddling was the best strategy, given that we both lived alone. If we were to quarantine ourselves, it was better as a team of two. I regretfully agreed and told my landlord that I wouldn’t stay after March.

Once more, it became time to prune my life. Two bookshelves were donated—but the books stayed with me. I stopped buying groceries and on the last week I survived on takeout alone. Even though I had read Marie Kondo’s book, I completely forgot about it and invented my own strategy for throwing things out.

March 31, 2020. M-day was here. Once more, back to the den.

But this time it was different. Last time I only had those things that fit in a cupboard of a house. Now I wanted to move the remnants of my own apartment into another one. Even after pruning I still had some very good furniture that wasn’t cheap to replace, not to mention even more books and clothes. This time I was moving my entire home, not just a semi-useful dwelling.

The movers came early and were surprised by how «little» it all was. When they were done, the truck wasn’t even half full. We hit the road early and arrived at Mom’s before noon.

A new life

Over lunch, Mom shared with me a fear of hers: we both had been living alone for the better part of a decade now; now we had to once more re-adapt to living with «someone else». She asked me to be 110% frank with her, whether that was about hogging the bathroom or sleeping schedules. We agreed to be considerate and frank at the same time. We don’t know how long this will last. We can and should make of these trying times a good memory.

The past few days I’ve been going over everything here, MarieKondo-ing our way to make space for the remnants of my own apartment. It makes for an amusing catalog that I’ll share later. I found my old laptop and revived it with an Ubuntu derivative made for underpowered hardware.

It’s been a few emotional days and I figured that the best way to start reviewing those feelings was to actually set them down on something more tangible than the voices in my head. So, here it is and here I am. Back in my childhood home. Huddled, working, listening to old soundtracks and musicals.

I don’t know what will become of us, and of me. hopefully, something good.

Wish me luck.


  1. Yes, Uber and other ridesharing options were available but I really never used it. Back then, credit cards were the only payment option and I had none. Those cabs were a lifesaver in many occasions.↩︎

  2. She had timed the end of her lease with an important overseas trip.↩︎

  3. May 10 for me.↩︎