If it depended on me, the moving- van industry would be belly-up by now. Likewise "Liquid Paper." When your address book has long since become a spaghetti plate of white-outs, cross- outs and random digits looking for a home, there I am: same name, same address, same phone number. In a sea of upheaval, an island of . . . tar.
It's been milestone-time lately. My it'll-do-for-now occupation of this territory is just completing its tenth year, all of it based in this one apartment. The average family makes an average move about every three years. And Washington's supposed to be even more transient than that.
How long is 10 years on Capitol Hill?
This long: Ten years ago, when you wanted to go downtown, you had to climb aboard a 30 bus headed up Pennsylvania Avenue. If it was sumd crowded (it was always crowded; sometimes it seemed that it was always summer), you would arrive at your destination ready to go home, having already sweated completely through your suit. There was no Eastern Market Metro stop -- there was no Metro at all.
And at the Eastern Market itself, people I considered old-timers used to tell tales of a carry-out stand there that once had offered fresh, homemade breakfasts and lunches. It was gone by this time, and it would be some years more before its successor would appear on the same site, sending lines of people snaking out onto the street every Saturday morning, and giving me the closest thing to a say-hi-to-your-neighbors town-square feeling that I've yet encountered.
Ten years? I was in this place before Roy Rogers rode in, and before the first Big Mac was packed in styrofoam within sight of the Capitol.
I figure this calls for a celebration, maybe a plaque outside the door: ''Estab. 1974." I'm also considering buying personalized stationery to mark the occasion, but I want to do it up right. I'm thinking of something with shields and ribbons, maybe angels blowing trumpets along the sides -- the sort of thing you'd find on fancy documents, or college sweatshirts. Down at the bottom, on one of the ribbons, it would say: "1974-1984: Tenth Jubilee Year." Right below that, there could be a motto, something like "Standing Still" or "Going Nowhere" -- only in Latin. I have put a more classically inclined neighbor on this case, and the best he's come up with so far is Sic Transit Immobilitas Mundi, which isn't quite as punchy as I'd like, but it might have to do. In a box under my bed is a bicycle rack I bought over Memorial Day weekend -- of 1978. Every so often, I slide it out and do a little more work on it. That rack is nearly put together now; the only thing left to do, in fact, is mount it on the car. Where'd those six-plus years go, anyway?
That's how it's been with the apartment, too. You take a place for "now," for "just a while," and gradually that while expands on you. The first lease runs out, but you don't move: You've really just gotten there, after all. Then you're not quite through getting the place set up the way you want it, so you ought to stay at least a little longer. Then you do have it set up the way you want it, so it would be silly to move out right away.
Then you realize how much you like the sunshine pouring through the front windows every morning, and you convince yourself there couldn't possibly be another apartment in the entire city that faces so well in precisely that direction.
Then you're saving up to buy a place of your own, so why spend more on rent than you already do? In turn, you realize you may wind up leaving town sometime soon; and if that's the case, buying doesn't make lots of sense -- you'll only have to pack everything twice.
You might as well stay put until you figure out what you're doing with your life. What you're doing with your life, you realize, is staying put. Anyway, there's no point in moving now -- not with all the new stationery.