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Lions Roar : November 2012
65 SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2012 my literary heroes had written about this roaring, ragtag thor- oughfare. Frank McCourt lived for a year right over Montero Bar & Grill after his first marriage broke up. He’d both hated and loved the place. His apartment pulsed with music and seemed a shameful spot for a schoolteacher to live in, but the bar did have its charms: one need never be alone. And here was Montero still, with its creaking blue neon sign, its dusky interior. And the nature writer Edward Abbey, on the very first page of Desert Solitaire, talked about the docks at the end of Atlantic Avenue. The fact that two of my favorite authors had referenced a street in my neighborhood made me feel a covert affinity with them, a secret strength—if they could find success despite real limitations, so could I. Oh, I did not want to give up this place! I was a mess that August day when the movers hauled my possessions down the stairs. “But you can sublet places on Craigslist!” said my friend Sally, during our goodbye supper. “Sample other parts of the city dur- ing winter and summer break! It’ll be an adventure.” I sighed. What a Pollyanna! Didn’t she understand it was change itself I most disliked? Yet Sally was right. For the past four years I’ve been the vag- abond queen of Craigslist.com, hopscotching Brooklyn. And the adventure has been wonderful. While I live in each apart- ment, I study what it has to teach. I read its books, eat the food on its shelves, and consider the perspective from its windows. Beyond that, I’ve been forced to undergo a spiritual edu- cation in acquiring and letting go. It’s as if I were a hermit crab inhabiting one distinctive shell after another, or a rein- carnate who got to live through many life cycles while being allowed to keep her memory of each. And something has shifted in me, thanks to this reitera- tion of loss and gain. I’ve begun to internalize that this is just the way of things: alteration, change. The tide washes in innumerable things—some marvelous, some mere hard grit—then sweeps them forth. Again. And again. PHOTOSBYATISHAPAULSON