Here again, like a broken (but not unpleasantly skipping) record. Last week. This week:
- Don’t live another day unless you make it count
- I laugh to think how young we were
- He says I’ve won five pounds if I have his kind of detergent pack
- It makes an old man throw away his cane
- It took half your leg and both your lungs
- Can you take me where you’re going if you’re never coming back
- And you’ll realize how much you never knew before
- Je veux seulement l’oublier
- Everyone so cloak and dagger
- I let my music take me where my heart wants to go
As always, good luck guessing the lyrics!
It’s funny, I feel like I’m suddenly at a point in my life where I don’t know what point I’m at in my life.
There’s a number of different factors that have conspired for this, I guess you’d call un-tethering. Like, I always knew I was out in uncharted waters, but I thought was at least in distance of the shore, some shore, or had grown comfortable enough that didn’t mind endlessly floating.
Now I’m not so sure, at all, and I feel a bit like I’m going through the motions. I know the best course is probably to change those motions up a little bit, and I’m trying to do that. I just can’t help but remember the last time I really changed my life around, the last time I changed up the motions. That was when I quit my job in Pennsylvania and moved back home ten years ago.
Don’t get me wrong, I like where I work now, and I find it more fulfilling than where I was a decade ago. But back then, I felt a little like I was giving up, changing things up because I didn’t know what else to do. I wanted to work in publishing, but I wasn’t thrilled to be going back to New York.
It’s ten years and a little change since then, and I still don’t feel settled, or like I belong here, or I’ve found my place. Some of that’s living with my parents: I love them dearly, but I’m looking for a place to rent and will hopefully finally follow through. Part of that’s just loneliness: I have some IRL friends whose company I enjoy, but am I close to anyone? Part of that’s probably just the normal disaffectedness that starts sometime in your 30s but then really takes hold as you edge closer to forty.
Part of it’s I just don’t know.
It’s funny, again, how I was just talking in this post about falling a little in love with places and yet never following through on the impulse — my own, or that of friends urging me to do it — to move there. I imagine the different lives I might have led if I’d moved to Austin, or San Antonio, or even, more recently, Banff. If any of those had seemed like really viable options, or if I’d just said screw it with viable options and done something crazy.
I don’t know that I would be happy, or feel tethered — that’s the thing about roads not taken, I suppose — but those would have been decisions, at any rate.
Maybe that’s it, at least a little: feeling like I’ve gotten here, wherever here is, with its good and its bad, through no conscious decision of my own. When you aren’t actually plotting a course, it’s hardly unexpected that you’ll find yourself lost out in the woods.
I’m not sure I’ve found the footpath just yet, but I’m looking.
Last week…or rather, two weeks ago. This week:
- “Wild Is the Wind” by Nina Simone
I hear the sound of mandolins
- “Paperbacks With Paragraphs Underlined” by Woodpecker!
Sex and death have always been two kissing cousins
- “Ooh La La” by Goldfrapp
Don’t want it Baudelaire, just glitter lust
- “Numb Bears” by Of Monsters and Men
Breaking little twigs with my feet
- “Lover to Lover” by Florence + the Machine
I’ve been setting myself up for the fall
- “Paperback Writer” by the Beatles, guessed by Clayton
It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear
- “Song to Bobby” by Cat Power
You sang the song that I was screaming
- “Bad Boyfriend” by Garbage
If you can’t love me, honey, go on just pretend
- “Camouflage” by Tim Fite
And if you really wanna pop, put this new shit on
- “Walk Us Uptown” by Elvis Costello
Some scoop gold from the dirt in the gutter
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.