Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Collapse: Letter IV

May 17, 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

Yes yes, I had promised you my moving story. I had forgotten your tenacity when promised something, however.

You remember “The Old Days”, where one simply rented a truck (or contracted someone to do so) and just loaded up and moved – as I remember, we both did this for each other at least one time, if not more. The world no longer works that way, my friend.

My house, as you may recall, was sold and I had a fixed time – 60 days – to leave. The last few years had been a time of material purging, so there were a great many fewer things in my home than used to be there – but were still many, no doubt. No problem, I thought to myself, I will merely procure a truck, load up, and travel on.

Alas, this too had quietly changed.

You may remember the time we suffered through Mr. A______'s high school civics class about the ability of an individual to move freely between states. That right still holds, but the actual process to move yourself permanently between two states has become a great deal harder.

There is a fee now, of course: the Interstate Relocation Recovery Fee (called something different in your locale but similar in nature) charged by the rental companies to cover the cost charged by the local or state government for an individual “selfishly” leaving their current location and reinvesting their resources where they have lived – as if all those years one was a net drain on the system (the fact that you are escaping the local death tax is probably the primary motivator). The fee is graded based on the scale of the truck you are attempting to rent and seems cross referenced (somehow) with someone's idea of your net worth – for me to rent a truck with a 4 meter long bed would have been prohibitively expensive. Even a trailer would have been a quarter year's salary.

I have my small truck of course, with a bed. And so I had some room. But not enough for everything in the house. And so I purged again. I sold things at seemingly ridiculous prices (strangely enough, at that time no-one had thought to tax the individual sale market. But I am sure that loophole is closed as well at this point).

None of the good things were sold, of course. Our photos stayed. My books, of course – can you imagine me without books? Clothing and such – but the whole “casual business attire” I had for 30 years all went to charity as that need was now long gone. And of course, the bits and pieces of the things that I love to do, the hobbies and interests that add zest to life.

I reduced my possessions so greatly that by the time I was done I had a simple truckload of items to be taken, tarped down against the potential for inclement weather and a full cab with the rabbits in the passenger's seat. Almost 60 years of living, and my life had become compressed to this.

If I were a melancholy man, this would have struck me as depressingly sad. My life in a single truck with only a small amount of things waiting for me at the other end. Some things had gained and then lost meaning, others were utilitarian in value and had filled there purpose – but all the pieces and parts of my life that were non-essential were gone. Only the core remained.

Shutting down the utilities remained the last thing to do – and yes, it was as difficult as you think. Everyone “demanded” a forwarding address on the grounds that I might still owe them. Fortunately I do not have a new mailing address and so I gave them an e-mail account as the only contact point – having left the geographical area, I had no intention on allowing them to track me.

And so, one glorious morning in August, the rabbits and I left early and hit the road. It was almost 20 years to the day we had all moved here in the first place. A lone cardinal chirped away as we left – as far as I could tell, there was no other sign or presence that noticed our going.

- Seneca


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