“If I could think of a way to do it right now, I’d head back to Louisville, sit on the porch drinking beer, drive around Cherokee Park for a few nights, and try to sink back as far as I could into the world that did its best to make me. It’s not hard to get tired of interminable palms and poinciana, and I could do at the moment with a single elm tree on a midnight street in the Highlands.”Hunter S. Thompson
If I ever moved back to Louisville, I knew I had to live in the Highlands. To me, nothing on God’s green earth matched the quirky eccentricity of this part of town. Nothing symbolized the ethos of Louisville – in all of its weirdness and diversity and beauty and hope – like the Highlands. And as a South End kid, when I finally learned that a place like the Highlands existed, all I could do was look on longingly at the cool and quirky way of life that existed there. In September 2017, my dream of living in there finally came true as I signed a lease to move into a dingy, 700 square-foot second-story one-bedroom apartment right off of Baxter and Grinstead.
For what I was getting, the rent was outrageous (what renter in the Highlands can’t say the same thing?). That didn’t matter to me as much. I was in the thick of things, just like I always wanted to be. Anywhere I could ever want to go was right outside my front door. The coffee shops, the restaurants, the bookstores, the festivals and parades – all just a short walk away. I may have come up as a South End kid, a fact that I will always be proud of, but my heart belongs in the Highlands. For two years, that’s where my heart has been (along with all the rest of me), taking long walks to catch a late breakfast at Highland Morning on the weekends, grabbing a coffee at Heine Bros, or getting caught in the gravitational pull of Carmichael’s just to look at books – even if I’m not buying anything.
Late in the summer, an opportunity came up for me to move somewhere new. Somewhere not in the Highlands, though admittedly it’s right around the corner from it. It was in Phoenix Hill, just a couple blocks from Market Street. It was nicer, a little cheaper, completely renovated and even had a yard for my dog, Rocky. Objectively the answer was obviously “Yes, time to move.” But the one hang-up for me was that I would no longer be a resident of the Highlands.
I know that may not make much sense. What’s living five minutes just to the west of the Highlands to someone who spent years living hundreds of miles away from it? I know. But part of this, for me, is the love of this place. Not just the fun things to do or see or experience here. Not to love it at a distance. But to love it as if it were part of who I am. To love it in the thick of it.
Finally, I talked myself into it. This would be a new adventure, a chance to see Louisville in a whole new way. It would be a welcome change of pace. There’s just as much to walk around and see here as there is in the Highlands. And besides, if I ever start to miss my beloved Highlands, they are just around the corner.
It’s been an adjustment. I traded the lush vistas of Cherokee Park for the concrete jungle of downtown and the crowded car-lined streets for one-way roads. “I want to keep my soul fertile for the changes,” writes Donald Miller, “so that things keep getting born in me, so that things die when it is time for things to die.” Part of my decision to move was to keep my soul fertile for the changes so that I don’t get stuck into the same routine and so that I can discover a whole new geography of this city that I love.
While I was moving, I couldn’t help but make a few observations. It’s a strange thing – packing up one’s earthly possessions to move them from one dwelling to the next. You find things that you had completely forgotten about. You relive old memories as you sift through books, letters, pictures and other keepsakes from your life. And for the first time in a long time, this move wasn’t to pursue a new opportunity or start a new job but simply to start a new way of life. Moving got me thinking about what kind of life I have lived for the past two years and what kind of life I want to live moving forward.
So here are some of my life ponderings from a move to a new neighborhood:
Everything’s better with friends and brothers, especially moving. Several years ago, I was moving out of my first real apartment in Winston-Salem. Many of my close friends had already moved away but I put up the Bat signal to anyone else I knew to come help me move. Nobody came. It was one of the most miserable experiences of my life. Since then, I’ve made a vow that if I got word of anyone else moving – whether friend, stranger, or random neighbor down the street – that I would help them move. Because I know how miserable it can be and I want to do everything I can to make it less miserable.
With the help of my mother, brother, one of his friends, and my incredible girlfriend, I was not alone for this move. The true test of any relationship, friendship or familial bond is whether or not someone is willing to be there with you when you’re moving.
It’s amazing how much stuff you can accumulate. I mean, simply amazing. Marie Kondo could do a whole season on what was in my apartment. I can’t decide if it’s better to never, ever move, or to move all the time. Or just to live as if you were moving all the time. It really is true when Chuck Palahniuk said that after a while, your stuff starts to own you. I’m going to start paying more attention to what fills my life up. I hope to fill it with less stuff and with more experiences.
A change of scenery is good for the soul. If I had it my way, I would have stayed in the Highlands for the rest of my life. But it wasn’t all amazing all the time. There were negatives, too. Over time they started weighing on me. I found myself in a rut – going to the same places, doing the same things, driving down the same roads. Now I live at the crossroads of several places to explore – Nulu, Butchertown, Clifton, downtown and beyond. I welcome the change in scenery. And, someday, I can look forward to returning to my beloved Highlands.
Enjoy more #ReDiscoverLou with Chris HERE!