Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Sta ima?

I've been busy. Moving, and starting the new job, vacation, teaching started two weeks ago. I thought about you the whole time. All the things I wanted to tell you. Things happened, and my reaction made me think of you. I like how things seem important when I feel like telling you about them. How would I tell you the story? How would I frame the narrative? You are a good blog.

About those first days living in South Bend, when I would ride my bike around town, from about 8-10pm. The days were so long because I live in the eastern time zone. And a river, water, finally, thankfully, again, water. To live with some sort of barrier there. And it is a barrier that takes us away to more unknowns and brings the same to us. You can sit there on its banks and it could just show up, like the part of the sitcom that will finally get good.

And those were really sweet moments. How I would wear my turtle bag strapped across my chest, and put my garage door opener in it, because that is the easiest way to get on my bike and go, through my attached garage. The South Bend map I bought the month prior, in May, when Mom and I arrived to look for a house. And how meticulous I would be in my thoughts about safety - some identification, garage door opener, cell phone. Just in case. Just in case.

It isn't that hard to get around now. I didn't take the map on the bike ride Monday. I didn't think about carrying identification. I used to do that in Zagreb, carry identification. In case something happened, if they find me, they would know whose I am. I am kind to strangers and I plan ahead.

It was the mover, Tom, who told me about the bike trail on the St. Joe river. "You just go all the way to Eddy, take a left to Jefferson, and then go right, and it's right there." He saw my bike and told me about it. Tom who packed my house and I think about him every time I empty a box. I can still tell the difference between the rooms and boxes Tom packed and Tommy packed. Tommy is Tom's son.

I know those are their names because that's how they introduced themselves to me.

And when they came to unload the truck in the new house, Tom complimented my on the house. He told me how to take care of the floors, how to unpack the boxes that contained mirrors. He told me which hardware store to visit, and what to buy (something to keep the door from hitting the wall when I open the door). Go to ACE hardware by John Adams high school. That's where I went to high school. Don't go to Lowe's. He talked to me about swimming, because he saw my trophy and the article from the newspaper about the time Mom and I swam the Ohio together. He told me that he grew up swimming in the St. Joe River, and that people think it is really dirty, but he doesn't.

I signed the papers after the move-in. I sat at my desk, and we overlooked the back yard. He asked me if I would get a yard. The space of the lawn and the fence makes you want to. I talked about my dream of a boxer just like the one I used to have, when I was little. But that I'll need to wait on that. He said he can't get another dog. He had his Mom's after she died. He can't have another one again. He had to put that dog down after several years, and he can't go through that again.

Tommy wasn't there for the move-in. That's how I know that they were telling me the truth that they are father-son. Not that Tommy is as brilliant a mover as his father. He has years of experience to gain first. The one who worked with Tom for the move-in didn't have the same respect for Tom as Tommy did. He didn't listen to him or wait for him, the way Tommy did.

Those were nice evenings, biking. And letting the prior months of dissertation writing and all the dramas run their course. I didn't write you then because I wanted my quiet, I wanted my peace, I wanted my thoughts for myself. I wanted every feeling, emotion, experience, sensation, for me.

Then the trip to Croatia: Zagreb and Hvar. You saw the photos on facebook. It felt that a door to the PhD research phase, that status, was over. I could feel myself walking and the new doors opening, in Zagreb. I gave a lecture Monday about space and time as factors in cultural dynamics. Inner and outward territorial cultures. Cultures that easily let others in, with few criteria, those that have insurmountable criteria. I think I'm no longer in the insurmountable criteria category. I got there when I got there. I can open the border. New spaces in old relationships.

Teaching. Today, I can celebrate two weeks of teaching. I thought that the hard work was over after the dissertation. No, I didn't think that. I'm surprised about the pace. Even faster than graduate school. Even more. And I wanted something to be easier. Maybe it is the relationships, with my ways of teaching, with the students. Exhausting. I thought the pace of dissertation writing was grueling. Sometimes people are addicted to their ambitions and success.

Your whole life changes when you move from graduate school job market - assistant professor job - dissertation finished - job started. The habits, the work habits, go with you. That part changes less.

I'm reading Aleksandar Hemon (The Lazarus Project) now. I am falling in love. And when it happens through reading, that's a great seduction.

I'll fall asleep soon...more later