It’s just past 1:00 p.m. in Boston where I am writing now, and just past 11:00 a.m. in Colorado, where I was sitting in a bar at Denver International Airport last night until our red-eye flight took off just before midnight. My body isn’t sure where it is, or what’s what. When our plane landed and I was ready to find my way home and into bed, Boston was waking up to a new day.
When I left New England a little over a week ago, the region was recovering from heavy rains that had flooded communities and pushed rivers to the edges of their banks and beyond. The landscape where JP and I spent the first couple of days of our trip was, to the contrary, completely parched. During the five-hour drive from Denver to the sleepy town of Las Vegas, New Mexico, we saw nothing but miles and miles of flat, dried-out earth. The Rockies were green, but seemed far out of reach across the plains as we drove. High wind advisories warned trucks off the highway, and occasional gusts kicked up swirls of dirt in the distance.
A few days later, back in Denver, it snowed overnight. We woke up to a world of white. Then the sun came out, and within a few hours the snow was gone. Temperatures were mild for the rest of the week, although the mornings were crisp and cold. The sky was blue and endless. On our last evening in town, JP and I walked the length of the 16th Street Mall with Fourth Genre founding editor Michael Steinberg, not once, but twice, because we were all so enjoying the the chance to be outside, to move our limbs, to breathe the fresh, dry air.
Back in Boston, spring seems to have arrived while I was gone. The rains have vanished. Rhododendron bushes on either side of our front door are suddenly in full purple bloom, and green tulip stalks are shooting out of the ground along the back deck. The grass is green and thick. It actually looks like it needs to be mowed. The air feels almost tropical with humidity, and trees everywhere are budding.
I attended a panel at the AWP conference about the importance of “place” in writing. Michael Steinberg was on that panel, along with five other writers. Each described, for about ten minutes, how a sense of “place” plays — or has played — a role in their work. Four of the speakers have written extensively about their places of origin: New York City, Hartford, South Dakota, Cleveland. No matter where they travel or moved onto in life, they find themselves mentally drawn to what they left back home.
I’m not sure I have a place I can really call “home.” I was born in New York City, but my family moved north when I was six. I spent the next 11 years in rural upstate New York, but was often referred to as “a city kid” because I wasn’t a “local.” Since leaving home for college at 17, I have lived in numerous places — Boston, London, Syracuse, Jerusalem, suburban New York, Colorado. I think, actually, I have often fought the feeling of being “dis-placed.”
That’s why today, the out-of-sorts feeling I have is familiar. Half of me is still in Colorado. Half of me is back in Boston. My mind, meanwhile, just wanders back and forth — forever restless.
I truly enjoyed this entry and was especially intrigued with your feeling of being “dis-placed.” I would like to hear more about that and hope you will blog about it or write an essay. I hope to hear more of your impressions of the various places you’ve lived. I wanted to welcome you back to Boston which is my home and because you are a friend of mine, I consider it yours, as well.