This wasn’t the first time I’d moved to a town where I knew next to no one. There was a certain thrill of being in a brand new in a place. The idea of starting over, of letting go of the past and moving full force into an unknown future. I’m aware that not everyone feels this way. Some people cling to their past as if to a life raft; if they just let go they’d find they won’t drown at all – the water’s shallow enough to stand up, and they can walk into their future unencumbered.
Anyway, that’s what I did. My life as a physical therapist was getting pushed further into my past. In July 2000, I moved to Boston to start my year of service as an Americorps VISTA with Massachusetts Campus Compact.
I was given a furnished four room apartment in one of the dorms on the campus where I would be based. It wasn’t as lavish as it sounds: one of the rooms was a bathroom with no shower, another was a kitchen with no stove that you could walk the length of in two steps (or one really long step). But I loved that little place. I took showers in a community bathroom next door to my room – me and the other 20 or so girls who lived on my floor. I brought two hot plates into the kitchen and, though highly illegal in a college dorm room, I cooked some spectacular meals with just two burners and no oven.
Perhaps it was this experience that really got me thinking about how little we really need to be happy. I did miss baking brownies, but an oven wasn’t imperative for a happy life. Yes, I would have loved not to have to wear flip-flops to take a shower, but I’d been on a two week sailing trip with no showers at all, so this wasn’t really that bad. Here I was living in a place with everything I could want within walking distance, in an apartment I didn’t have to pay for, about to start a job I was sure I would love. Do you really need much more than that?