Not all Crab People are super-settled, as one of my Cancerian subscribers, Jessa Crispin, explains so eloquently.
It has been one year and two weeks since I put all of my belongings into storage and started living out of one carry-on sized suitcase. I had been traveling extensively, from Italy to Sarajevo to Texas, and it seemed the one thing that was holding me back was all of the stuff. The home, the belongings, the outfits, the books. The shoes. I mean, bless those shoes, they are things of beauty, but you can’t just drag them all behind you. They had to go, too.
My personal case of the Zap Zone, you see, is focused on my Mercury at 13 degrees Leo, in my 4th house. And I answered the call of my Uranus trine Mercury with, well, at least make yourself portable.
I had been living in Berlin, and feeling like it was time to leave for a new city (five years in one place really is my limit), but I had no idea where to go next. I was writing a book, about expat writers and artists, people who just decided to start new lives elsewhere and the impact that had on them and their work — Claude Cahun moving to Jersey Island, Igor Stravinsky taking off to Switzerland — and I wanted that place that they had, that called to me. But when I really started to listen, it wasn’t a city calling to me so much as the act of movement that was. It’s a different calling, that one. It requires less furniture.
Basically I am now a Cancer without a home, and that has been as liberating and as frustrating as you might imagine. I need to check a reference in a book I own, and I can remember exactly where it was shelved in the old place, but now I can’t get to it. Always, I long for the shoes I didn’t pack, or the dress I abandoned somewhere in the Balkans. And yet. I saw Leon Bakst paintings in St. Petersburg. I had the history of the world whispered to me in a Roman basilica. I was wooed by a Hungarian accordion player. I was nearly trampled to death by some Swiss cows. They didn’t mean to, though. They just got so excited for a second.
I packed that suitcase with equal parts practicality and sentimentality: the black dress that can be worn in any number of situations/the shirt that smells like him. The books I need for the book I am writing/the William James that I have read a hundred times and turn to when I can’t sleep and I get scared. But if anything, this year has taught me how the way to learn to do without something is just to do away with it. You adapt, you substitute, you work your way around. You learn how to be your own doctor and pharmacist with the contents of a grocery store’s produce aisle. You learn how to live without a cell phone, you learn how to live without a home.
In a strange bit of synchronicity, my Cancer fella is in the same place, without a home, living out of a suitcase, moving from one consulting job to another. We exile ourselves sometimes, setting up temporary homes in furnished apartments in cities neither one of us want to live in permanently. We spend a month cooking, playing, drinking, having long, leisurely mornings in bed, and then pack up and bid each other farewell until we run into each other somewhere else on the road.
It is romantic. It is misery-making.
I spent many, many years working to make my job easy to do from the road. I run two online literary magazines, I do freelance writing and tarot card readings over Skype. I just didn’t know until last year I was doing those things so that I could have these years of rootlessness. So I could just pick up and leave and keep my career intact. But it is also amazing how much money you save if you are not paying rent, or electric bills or water bills or a cell phone plan. And you can push all of that money right into Central European sublets and train tickets and agencies that add extra pages to your passport.
Also? My Virgo moon is conjunct the asteroid Odysseus. This is fate.
The suitcase isn’t really holding up so well. The zipper split back in November, but that’s nothing tape and a little wire can’t fix. It looks like hell, but all the easier to spot it on the baggage carousel. I’m holding up better than the suitcase is, although I too am a little worse for wear in some areas. The book is done at least. Right now, I have travel plans up until mid-July, a long, two month jaunt from Berlin to Budapest to Sofia and then to Istanbul, where I will reunite with the fella. I don’t know what comes after that. Whatever it is, I’m guessing it’ll be an adventure.
I forgot how many Cancers were great travelers, from Gertrude Bell to Anthony Bourdain. I do think there is a hermit crab quality to some of us.
Jessa Crispin runs Bookslut and Spoliamag
Image: Shepard Fairey