It’s 2021, and we’re a month in. We’re doing okay. A pandemic still rages, but for the first time in a long time it feels like someone’s doing something. It feels good, even if there’s a billion things left to do. We keep saying that we’re moving on. We’re moving on.
- “B.O.B. – Bombs Over Baghdad” — Outkast
- “Midnight in a Perfect World” — DJ Shadow
- “Cheree” — Suicide
- “Houses (Recorded at Spotify Studios NYC)” — Courtney Barnett
- “Kid A” — Punch Brothers
- “Still Blue” — SiR (w/ Jill Scott)
- “Chicken Grease” – D’Angelo
- “The Big Bang Jump (live)” — Office
- “Hayloft” — Mother Mother
- “Rubber Legs” — Mineral
- “Sh. Fe. Mc’s” — De La Soul (w/ A Tribe Called Quest)
- “Corona” — Minutemen
- “Ramble Tamble” — Creedence Clearwater Revival
- “The Times They Are A-Changin’” — Mason Jennings
- “Little Boxes” — Malvina Reynolds
Here in Sioux Falls, we’re also moving on. Literally, we’re moving — we’re packing up our home of 11 years and wandering three blocks down the road. It’s just the two adults, our teenager and almost-teenager, our cat, our new puppy, and decades of accumulated trinkets. A record collection and a kitchen. Two Kitchenaid mixers; thousands of LEGO; dozens of cables we don’t remember owning.
For a week, we have both houses — a surprisingly affordable trick that allows us to move at a more realistic pace. As one set of rooms fills, the others slowly empty. The echoes disappear in one, appearing in the next.
There’s something unique about an empty room and how it bounces sound around. Every few years, we get to work in an empty room. We replace carpet, emptying the room and filling it with music as we work. We refinish floors to the sound of the World Cup on a miniature desk television. We play old playlists in new houses as we figure out how the pieces will fit. We blast something fun — something that will help us work. A Tribe Called Quest, probably. Or maybe Outkast.
The pieces don’t always fit. Pictures, chairs, organizational crates — they were meant for a former place, acquired to fit into very specific spots in a very specific home. Some things get put in the basement, others get forced onto an ill-fitting wall. Mason Jennings sings an old Bob Dylan song, and we hastily shove some books on a shelf.
These arrangements are meant to be temporary. When you move from one thing to the next, you don’t wait for everything to be perfect. Instead, we start moving, placing, losing and finding. Not forever, but for now. And then, eventually, things will settle, and we fall back into our routines. We forget the work we did to move in, we wonder what all of the fuss was about. We get used to those things we shoved in the corner, happy to relax for a second. Happy that things are finally okay.
Not perfect, but okay. And okay is good. But okay is never good enough. The echoes of those empty rooms stop broadcasting our change, dampened by those hasty decisions. The struggle is to keep making things better — refusing to settle for those quick patches of paint, or that rushed organization job. To keep thinking about how we can improve the space and make it our own, independent of former owners, independent of our old lives.
To keep blasting Outkast on the speakers. To shift things around enough to hear those echoes again.