I am not above falling a little in love with the places I’ve visited.
I flew back to New York yesterday afternoon after about half a week in Austin, Texas. I was there visiting schools — UT Austin, St. Edward’s University, and a two-hour drive to San Antonio — for work, while also visiting with my sister, who’s presently living there because of her own job. Lest you think I got much vacationing in while I was there, I left straight from the office on Tuesday afternoon, immediately after a presentation about commissioning textbooks, and I was up most mornings before the sunrise while I was there. (Did I mention it was a two-hour drive both ways to UTSA?) Aside from a couple of really nice dinners, the company of my sister and her cat and her husband, I didn’t really see much of Texas. It was nice to get back just so I could get a little sleep.
The weird thing is, I’m kind of okay with that. Austin’s a great city, but I’ve been there before. Was a time, I would have wanted very much to stay. Was a time, I seriously considered moving to Texas.
That was over a decade ago, however, and my life turned out a bit differently. It’s been almost that long since I’ve had any contact at all with the friend who first tried to convince me to move down to Austin. And while that sometimes makes me a little sad, ten years is a long time. Enough to make those thoughts — “you’re right, I should move to Austin” or “gosh, San Antonio is the prettiest city I’ve ever seen, I should move there” — feel like they were somebody else’s.
Moving there would have probably been hitching a ride of somebody else’s dream anyway. I think I said as much to my friend Sharon at the time. So while I applied for a handful — maybe even a large handful? I don’t remember — of jobs in the city, and did seriously consider it whenever Pennsylvania seemed like the wrong choice, it doesn’t feel like a place I’d want to live anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, the weather was lovely — if a bit hot — while I was there, and there’s plenty to do in the town that’s worth doing. Especially if you can put up with Texas traffic. It’s a place I probably wouldn’t mind visiting again, especially if I really got a chance for a more touristy visit, But it’s no longer a place I’m in love with, Austin or San Antonio. I don’t know when those feelings, if they were even real, went away, but went away they did.
I likely wouldn’t be musing about this at all if I was truly in love with New York, if this and now felt like the great long-term plan. It’s closer, and moving back here without a job was a smarter move than trying the same thing with Texas. But I think I’m still waiting for that new place to come along, the one I can fall a little in love with, take a chance on, and that won’t feel like somebody else’s half-remembered dream a decade from now.
I had to go into the office today, because tomorrow I’m heading to Texas for work.
I don’t know that I’m looking forward to it, exactly, and I’m likely to be very busy, traveling to and from campuses, talking with instructors and whatnot.
I’ll be there for the rest of the week, returning Saturday.
Last week. This week:
- “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John, guessed by Occupant
The words she knows, the tune she hums
- “I’m Not in Love” by Kat Edmondson
I don’t take cues from horoscope hounds
- “Callin’ Out” by Lyrics
I won’t stop till I feel my lungs stop breathing
- “Wise Up” by Aimee Mann
Prepare a list for what you need
- “Plus Ones” by Okkervil River
And no one wants a tune about the 100th luftballoon
- “You Don’t Know How it Feels” by Tom Petty, guessed by Betty
But she don’t give a damn for me
- “Duet for Emmylou and the Grievous Angel” by Rah Rah
I won’t kiss you now but I will once you’re gone
- “Witchy Woman” by the Eagles, guessed by Occupant
She can rock you in the nighttime till your skin turns red
- “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Mephis Blues Again” by Pat Guadagno & Tired Horses (orig. Bob Dylan)
And the ladies treat me kindly and furnish me with tape
- “Nobody Home” by Pink Floyd, guessed by Clayton
I’ve got a little black book with my poems in
So it goes. Good luck!
I amused myself earlier today:
Other than that, the day was pretty much uneventful. I had a lousier than expected morning commute, when the subway station at Hunterspoint Avenue just wasn’t running at all, and I followed a mass exodus a few blocks to catch the E train. (That gets me in relatively close to the office, but a few blocks more, again, than my regular commute into Grand Central.) Then the evening commute was mildly awful again, when a bunch of trains (including mine) were canceled and combined with others. The train was packed, up and down the aisles, but I read my book and was only about ten minutes later than I usually am. Would that I could only say that I’d never had worse commutes.
I’m a little more adjusted to being back from Canada, I guess, although no less nostalgic for my time there and kind of wishing I could go back. I’d like to, at some point, and hopefully it won’t take another three years like it did last time, but for now I’m sort of getting the hang again of being in New York.
Of course, I’ll be traveling to Texas in a couple of weeks for work. I’ve booked my plane tickets and rental car and everything.
It’s taken me a little while to get back into the swing of things, writing-wise, to recapture whatever momentum I was hopefully learning to build (if some days not actively building) in Banff. Part of that was my writing group getting canceled last weekend, and part of that was just the weirdness of returning after two weeks. But I’m back on the horse, and if not writing a lot yet, at least writing, and moreover finishing things.
I finished a story this evening, a flash piece I think I still need to trim about a hundred words from before sending it out. Meanwhile, I’ve got a couple of other stories — one written before, then other at, Banff — out for consideration elsewhere. The waiting to hear isn’t fun, nor are the rejection letters, but those rare moments when a story actually clicks, then falls together? That’s worth it.
My writing group wasn’t canceled this week, and I actually like what I wrote there too, but I think I’ve decided to stop posting those works in progress here. Partly because they sometimes do become actual works in progress, something I might want to expand and adapt and, eventually, submit. I don’t know that a short selection from a rough first draft posted here precludes me from doing so, or that it could reasonably be considered a reprint — which most places won’t buy — but I think I’ve decided to stop taking that risk.
Hopefully that will just give me added incentive to finish stories and sell them if I want anybody but my writing group to see what I’m working on.