Nothing about South America is what I expected. It’s a huge continent, and you can’t hop from country to country like you can in Europe; it took four hours just to fly from Brazil to Argentina. There are entry fees and visa’s required, which seems exciting until you actually have to pay them or get one. Because you have to fly everywhere you want to visit, I had to ask (and then pretend to be) a travel agent what would be a doable two-week trip. I had to fight my instincts for months while I planned, otherwise we would have covered all of South America in fourteen days. When the trip was finally narrowed down to Brazil and Argentina, the debate over Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo began. It’s hard to ‘pick’ a city when you don’t really know what it is you’re picking, but I chose Rio on the advice of a good friend. In the end I planned what was probably the most reasonable vacation of my life: one week in Rio, and one week in Buenos Aires.
December 15th, 2011 § 0 comments
October 15th, 2010 § 0 comments
Place, where we live, how we live, and why, is an old and favorite topic of interest. Not long after leaving California for Chicago, I realized that while I might never move back to the west coast, it was inescapably the place I am from. These undesired or unavoidable connections, between the place we come from and the places we move to, affect us as much as family ties, even if we talk less about them. For better or worse it is the place we are from, more than the places we move to, that shapes our initial perspective like early parental teachings or our varied experiences of grade school education. Living elsewhere forces (rather than allows) you to recognize that there are people you understand, a landscape with which you feel familiar, and a culture you might not like but are never baffled by, existing with or without you in that place you left. Living in different cities for two or three years at a time reminds me of the first two years you spend in college, fulfilling the “general education” requirements of any degree. Who really knows what classes or subjects they like or dislike until a little bit of everything has been tried? I never moved planning to love or hate anyplace, because I didn’t have much in the way of expectations—that it would be “different” from the place I was leaving was the only given, and the only real constant of travel. I knew each place would be interesting, however, and certain a kind of indifference, such as blatant curiosity, is sometimes a good way to get a neutral perspective. Honestly, what do we know about where we might want to live in our early, mid, or late twenties?
June 30th, 2010 § 0 comments
Adam Gopnik says:
In New York, the space between what you want and what you’ve got creates a civic itchiness: I don’t know a content New Yorker.
Moving is difficult. It’s not so much the physical act of lugging your things from one place to another, albeit an exhausting experience beginning with packing the first box to unpacking the last, but the psychological aspect of being in transition that makes it so traumatizing. All semblance of a routine full of familiarity and comfort disappears as objects are moved, and rather than facing the fear we might feel at not knowing if a new home will become a home, even though they always do, it’s easier to cling to our belongings. I watched my Grandpa horde objects throughout my lifetime, loving his clutter so much that I associated his belongings with his person, and moving his furniture felt just like moving the displaced man himself. While watching his things disappear from a house I loved was like witnessing a small kind of death, seeing familiar, though just as displaced trinkets in my parents various apartments over the years act as a reassurance that they are still themselves. I think about the infamous wagon-wheel-coffee-table scene from When Harry Met Sally when I trash objects I myself fought so hard to keep in my possession. The things that surround us have a meaning we don’t really intend for them to have, and seem to be the most convenient tokens of displaced emotions. Moving this past weekend I realized, only when I was returning the van and all was safely moved, including my most precious yowling Boo, that everything was alright. It’s seeing our lives packed and placed in a homeless state that is so unsettling.
May 22nd, 2010 § 0 comments
New York City is a place that inspires a great deal of nostalgic sentiment, so passionate and opinionated that it often feels exclusive, like how we sometimes feel when talking to our grandparents. While the elderly tend to remember their past with exciting fondness, their dismissal of the present is always a little unnerving. Growing up with one great-grandmother born in 1905 instead of two younger grandmothers, I was always captivated by her quaint stories. At the same time I felt a bit wary of them, like the children in a Ray Bradbury novel who simply can’t believe that the elderly were once young. Just as we all feel a little like the first children to ever roam grassy backyards, it’s hard to accept that there ever was a time before our vivid present.
August 6th, 2008 § 0 comments
The first week in nyc has been a strange one, a cross between grueling packing and unpacking, shifting and rearranging. The apartment has changed numerous times as I argued with D over where furniture should go, and what looked best where. It is odd how the same objects look and behave differently in a different sized/shaped place, objects that were deemed practical in Richmond have lost their purpose here. The # 4J made moving in a real pleasure—at least more of a task than that of moving out—even more enjoyable than a seven hour truck ride with a rather doped up, carsick, and miserable Boo. The apartment is now caught in a stage of livable confusion, it has come a long way since the box filled moment of my beginning, but it has a long way yet to go.