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April 19, 2000

Twelve years in one place. That's by far the longest I've ever lived at one address. By far — by about double in fact, at least. And now just a few days are left to me here at the Home Office, which I leave with no regrets.

Twelve years. The same amount of time it takes to get from first grade to high school graduation. Ronald Reagan was president when I moved into this house. Eric was just about to turn twelve when I moved in; now he's twenty-four. Half of his life. David was six and a half, and now he's nearly nineteen. That's almost two-thirds of his life. It's even close to a quarter of my life, and we're now talking big numbers.

As much as I'm looking forward to moving, I'm a sentimental soul. That explains why I've found so many worthless souvenirs as I've gone through all my things, packing and discarding. Old newspapers, ticket stubs, ballgame giveaways, all manner of random mementos.

And that also explains the misty feeling I've had my last week here. My last Sunday. Taking the garbage out to the curb for the last time. Today I might have taken my last walk down Sonoma Avenue to the post office. I'm eating out tomorrow night; does that mean I've used the stove for the last time? Saturday night will be the last time I sleep in my bedroom, if I sleep at all.

I can't name all the people who've lived in the other half of the duplex during these twelve years. Most of them came and went without more than a few words or an occasional wave in the driveway passing between us. Until Grady moved in last year, I hadn't set foot in that unit. Some of my neighbors have been almost invisible, while others have been loud, obnoxious and aggravating.

The building itself has changed hands while I've lived in it. When I moved in, it was owned by two retired women from Marin, who were rarely around but knew my name and were always gracious to me. I've never met the current owner; I deal only with his agent, who has made many more promises than improvements.

Sometimes I feel as if for the span of these twelve years I've been marking time. I'm still at the same job, but I'm more secure and in control. That comes from making myself indispensable. I'm older, too, but that's actually been a blessing. I'm a stronger person than I was when I was younger. I have more confidence and a better sense of who I am. More settled, I guess, whether that's good or bad.

Where will I be in another twelve years? Anywhere at all? How will my life have changed by that time? I'll look forward to finding out, but I'll look back with some affection on the last twelve years.

Can you guess why this boy is so happy? Click his face to find out.

Check out Al's tribute to Edward Gorey in his April 19 entry, The Shudderweb Diaries.

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