Broke into the Old Apartment (This is Where We Used to Live).

I rarely listen to music on the radio, but the other day I was flipping through the stations as I was driving and heard the opening riffs of the Barenaked Ladies’ song “The Old Apartment.” This song was a favorite of mine around about the time I graduated from college, so I turned it way up and reveled in the nostalgia. But in the midst of my revelry, the words caught my ear, and I realized that there was something profound here that I had never heard before: the song brings to the surface the deep grief we bear as a result of our hypermobility.

The homes and environments in which we live give form (and thus meaning) to our lives — the color of the walls, the hole I punched in the door, the grumpy neighbor downstairs banging on the ceiling. I certainly have had the experience that they describe here, going back to a place where I used to live and feeling a similar sense of loss and confusion.

Psychology is largely a mystery to me, but it does seem, as the Barenaked Ladies, have named here, that every time we uproot ourselves from one place to another, we inflict a sort of wound upon ourselves (or if we are being displaced by economics or political conflict, we have the wounds inflicted upon us). I share Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove‘s hope (his book The Wisdom of Stability is a must-read!) that church communities rooted in stability in a particular place can offer the hope of a different way (and even perhaps of healing) to a world deeply wounded by our hypermobility.  Having lived at twelve addresses over the course of decade through college and afterward, I know these wounds all too well.

In order for us to move in the direction of a more rooted culture (in our churches and in our neighborhoods as well) we need to have a keen sense of what we are repenting of, the damage we are inflicting upon ourselves through our hypermobility, and quite to my surprise, I found that these wounds are laid bare in the story told in “The Old Apartment.”

  • Josh Kelley

    While this really has nothing to do with the content of your post, I would like to add that BNL is a great band with well written lyrics. Thank you.

  • Dan

    For one who has been in ‘hypermobility mode’ for some years, I find your piece intriguing. Moving around has some benefits–opportunities to discover people, places, food, etc that otherwise would have been remote or unknown–but it also can wear thin. More and more, I like this notion putting down roots. Your post helps, indicating how this can bring good to self, others in the area who stay, and even to those who are passing through.