Tag Archives: Family

No Sadness: Week of Return

As I sit here in my big comfortable computer chair, I ponder on numerous subjects. I am thinking about the trip, my family, and my future. I am having one of those moments of solitude. Tomorrow will be exactly a week since we departed from New York. I sincerely miss not only the city, but as Courtney referred to us, my family.

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It is quite difficult yet obvious how to conclude the trip. It is almost as if I do not want to because I feel like once I publish this, I am officially home. It is one thing to simply be in the area, but it is another to accept the fact that we are no longer together in New York, waiting for another adventure.

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I never want to forget the experiences and family who made this journey so unique and fulfilling. You do not realize how big of an impact everyone makes until a few days later when you remember each and every personality and memory. I am extremely excited to have documented this so far through a blog because our minds simply do no justice to written words.

As depressing and sad as I would have liked to be, it seems as though I let those emotions out in the last few blog posts. I want to focus on the good times and never forget the excitable experiences each of us have had. I am exceptionally fortunate to have met the individuals I met during the journey. I loved the get togethers and simple family bonds. One of the greatest moments was walking into Jenna, Marina, Keeyoung, and Lindsay’s room and dragging them out and down to mine. Brittany and Cami were already in there. I had 4 take out boxes of food saved from the dining hall because I did not use all of my meals. We had a miniature party and we ate tons of delicious cookies.

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As I pondered on these small but meaningful memories, I can’t help but thank Courtney and Rylan for serving as such amazing professors. I really cannot thank them enough for the tremendous experience I undertook. So, to close on a high note, I will forever LOVE New York and my New York family!

Much Love,
Nathan Wingate

P.S. I am a lucky man, if you know what I mean. I was fortunate enough to meet some exceptionally beautiful people. This first week back is a new beginning for a hopeful and bright future 🙂

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Filed under History, Miscellaneous, Photography

On Returning Home and Missing My Family

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We took so many group photos, it was kind of hard to choose one. But here’s the family in Brooklyn Heights.

So, I can’t say this better than Lindsay, but writing a last post is difficult. And this time, perhaps thankfully, I didn’t have a 36-hour train ride home for meditation. Instead, I’ve taken these last two days in Georgia to tune out and think about what this CSU NY Arts Immersion trip has meant to me. Back at home, I found myself sort of immediately bored without somewhere to walk on Saturday evening and then sort of immediately maladjusted to the truly “free” Sunday that I had without a trip or meeting scheduled—without the buzz and hum of the city in the background. So, I do miss the city with all of its stimulation, all that it offers. But, of course, I’m going to talk about “family” for my last post…because, like the last trip taught me, it’s about the people that accompany you on a trip as much as the place you travel to.

From the beginning, this group referred to us as a “family” and insisted that we take a group photo for nearly every outing. This was quite a contrast to our last group in 2012, who ditched us as often as they could to go out exploring. While that group was interested in discovering the city on their own, this group wanted to experience it together, which meant a certain kind of openness to just about any event that was planned. They put serious trust in their professors to show them the city, and then they could reflect for themselves. For instance, when I suggested a theatrical reading of Russian literature at Joe’s Pub, almost everyone came along—and even though we were all lost because we hadn’t read Nabokov’s Pale Fire, this group made the best of it. They used humor to get through it, seeing who could laugh the loudest at a show that none of us could really understand. It might have been a dreadful event, but this family made it memorable anyway.

From what I could tell, when this group was disappointed with something, they talked through it. This, again, suggests an openness. Instead of a quick dismissal—an “I hated that”—they talked amongst themselves and then with us about what left them curious, questioning, or uncomfortable. For instance, after a visit to the MoMA, Rylan and I discussed postmodern art with one of my English students, which led to an interesting debate about works like those of Jackson Pollock and the significance of visual art as political and meaningful versus that same significance in literature. After our tour in Harlem, many students felt uncomfortable that our tour guide took us into the housing projects; they discussed this together and then with me a little, which led to some of the most honest conversations about race and class that I’ve ever had. Another instance: one art student pulled me aside at the International Center for Photography to talk about the composition of a certain series of photos, which she felt looked poorly Photoshopped. Even though she disliked the series, she was engaged with trying to understand why the photographer would use such techniques. And, of course, in my class meetings where we discussed literature, we inevitably drifted away from the actual texts and spoke about our own experiences in the city, whether good or bad.

Even if we all felt homesick and tired and maybe even tired of each other at some point in the trip, we remained a “family,” as the students put it. Family, to me, means sharing experiences in honest and open ways–unafraid to question, to engage, to make decisions about what we value in art and life, or even our values and how they change. To just know that you can trust someone else with your true feelings about what you’ve just experienced. That is the real purpose of this trip in my mind—to establish that kind of rapport. It’s not to try and cram in every artistic and historical event in New York City into three weeks time, so that students can dance through them and later talk about their experiences like badges or trophies (“I saw this; I went here; I’ve done that before”). Instead, the purpose of this trip—and I think travel more generally—is to form lasting bonds with your travel mates, to reflect together on what you are seeing and learning, to miss the people more than the place when you get home.

Like the authors that we read for this trip, who were all searching for connections with others in places far from their homes, that’s what we seek when we venture to new places out of our comfort zone. I’m glad to have found that with my 2014 New York family. We talk so much about the importance of family in the South, about how family sustains us and keeps us grounded in place. But after this trip, I know that the concept of family extends beyond the bounds of our blood relations and our region. I know that, despite all the depressing literature Southerners may write, those connections forged are very real, and that perhaps, in contradiction to some of my earlier posts, home is transportable if you are with your family.

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Filed under History, Literature, Miscellaneous, Neighborhood Fun, Photography, Theatre, Visual Arts

Canvas

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The Present, soon to be Erased.

So, this post is coming right after the one I just did. I’m just going to say again that today was/is our last day in New York. Tomorrow we’ll get on the train and head home. We’ll be back on Sunday. Yay!  Obviously, if you’ve been reading this, you know that I have been missing home like a crazy person. Conversations with my mother & my aunt, meeting a friend, the Jack Jr. from Build-A-Bear, and my grandparents visit today has really made this trip less lonely than it could have been.

Really though, even though everyone knows I’m happy to be going home, I’m still going to blog on it. It’s important to me. I mentioned before that I wouldn’t say part of what made this trip so lonely and I still won’t, though some reasons, like family, make it obvious. I’ve been away from home for long periods of time before. Staying with family or even from when I went to Mexico and still nothing was as bad as this. I mean, I loved the Natural History Museum and the Met, I found magic at the Whitney and at the library(even though I never did make it back to that lion—darn!), but still there really is no place like home.

New York is big and busy and is filled with opportunity and excitement. I guess I just don’t like it. My grandfather had me stop and actually look at some of the architecture around the buildings today—from Greek, to Franco, to English and it was really amazing. Though if I have to say, this place filled with opportunity and life is nothing compared to my home or to being in Mexico. And maybe it’s because I was probably even more familiar with Mexico than I am with New York.

 I stayed with e Mexican family and I went out pretty much every night and even though I barely spoke Spanish, I flourished in Mexico. I was happy to go to my biweekly meetings and even though it wasn’t required for me to do the whole thing in Spanish, I had Spanish vomit of the mouth about my home life and the events we did. I loved it. I think I’d like to go back one day. I never felt the need to carry mace or anything like that there, even though I had it. I just…existed with people and it was a friendly and lovely experience.

That’s not to say people in New York are unfriendly. But during lunch I had a conversation with grandpa and grandma about “foreign” and how we shouldn’t look at other people as being foreign. They’re just like us with different beliefs in a different country. Though I have to say, I feel like New York is more foreign to me than Mexico ever was. Like I said, I’ve had fun and a good time here, but I think there really is something about it that makes it lonelier than any place I’ve ever been.

Because this trip, for my class, was based in part of Carson McCullers and her trip and experience here I can’t help but feel that I’m missing something. I don’t know. She flourished here in a way that I think I can’t. The only thing I’ve really accomplished here is spending money and feeling lonely, and these blogs. And there isn’t anything special here. It’s just…me and my everyday experiences that I have to post for class. I don’t know. She turned out novels being here about her home. And me…well, you can see it in this picture and the very first picture I posted.

I said this room was blank, like a canvas waiting for my story. Maybe my story is online now, but it won’t exist in this room anymore. This picture is all that’s left. Because my 11 a.m. tomorrow I have to have every packed and be ready to go. I don’t mind it at all, but it’s sad. Whatever story started here won’t be finished. It will be erased. By my own hand, even, because as I pull everything down and pack it away that story vanishes. What my possessions can do here, is completely different from what they’ll do back home. I’m not overly sad though. Even if I don’t ever accomplish anything spectacular, the story I’ll have in my own room back home, is the one I’d choose over this blank slate.

It’s familiar, it’s love, it’s family. It’s happiness. And we all have the right to pursue happiness. I’m going to do it in the place where I’m happiest, at home with my mother and my dog. I don’t know if I’ll blog again, telling the joys of home and what not, or even if I will blog in the future. There’s no telling. I’m thankful for the chance to experience New York, but I’m still really happy that it’s time to go home. 

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The Past, that looks a lot like the Future.

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Channeling Classic Education

Today is/was our last day in New York and it is/was a free day. I have no idea what the others decided to do but I hope everyone had a nice day. For me, I got a special visit. My grandparents live in Maryland and they got up super this early to take a bus and come see me today! It was awesome! Finally, something more familiar and like hope in New York.

My grandpa took us out to lunch to this really famous restaurant called Sardi’s. It’s on 8th Avenue and 44th Street, number 244 or something like that. Anyway the whole place is really nice and the food was super good. The staff was really nice too. Because it’s famous, a lot of famous people have been there and so all around the walls on practically all the available space, there are caricatures of all these people.

My grandfather, who remembers coming to this restaurant as a kid was right down memory lane and having a blast. He was listing names and pointing out who people were. Anyways, I’m not the type of person who recognizes a celebrity when I know the name; not even ones that I should know. Like, I think my list of known celebrities consists of like, less than ten. So he was going on about “classical” education and why I should know these people. It was actually really funny and I just kind of smiled. My grandma made a comment to him that they had had over 40 years to learn these people and what they were famous for. I’m only 20 and while that’s not really an excuse, it’s the one I’m making here.

This whole conversation actually reminded me of a conversation the group had on the literature tour the other day. It was about Assigned Reading and how books that are assigned tend to get the automatic ‘dislike’ just because it was assigned. Unfortunately, like the famous discussion at lunch today, assigned reading usually includes the classics and so from my experience students don’t seek out more punishment by finding other classics. The conversation also talked about how students generally have to find the work on their own, which will probably happen when it’s more likely to be important or meaningful to them anyway. Overall, I thought it amusing how my grandfather could manage to sound like one of my professors while having a nice lunch. It was very entertaining.

So maybe my classical education hasn’t tuned in quite yet, but I’m having fun for now. And while I have found some really great books or art that I love when it’s assigned, I find it is usually more important to me when I stumble across it. It makes it more personal, because it’s like somehow the book or artwork knew when I’d need it. And maybe that’s weird, but that’s how it is.

Other than that, we had a wonderful time at the Discovery Museum where we saw the Terracotta Warriors from the Qin Dynasty and the Han Dynasty. That was cool. I highly recommend both it and the restaurant Sardi’s to everyone. J They’re easy to find too. You know, since the museum actually turned out to be right next door. ^_~

P.S. No picture yet, because we had no service, but there will be one later….hopefully 😀 

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Filed under Miscellaneous