Tag Archives: Georgia

On Coming Home

I left New York City two days ago and am only now writing my last blog post about this trip. The reason for my procrastination can be narrowed down to two things: general laziness and a reluctance to write a conclusion. I have often found conclusions to be difficult to write. They have to sum up the entirety of the narrative without seeming redundant while also offering a new perspective on the subjects mentioned. My mind is blank when I try to think of how to finish this blog series. I want the end to be perfect, like a neat little ribbon tied around a well wrapped present. How will I wrap this all up? Should I write out a laundry list of all the places I visited while in New York or should I discuss the overall theme of the trip and the lessons that I learned there? Both choices sound rather cliche but what other options do I have?

Earlier this evening I stood on my porch, watching Piper (my dog) investigate the yard as if she’s never seen it before. As the sky darkened and the fireflies awoke to illuminate the night, I mused about the trip and my thoughts drifted to the city of New York. The night was quiet here in Lawrenceville, Georgia, which is something that hardly ever happened in New York City. There were no sirens blaring every twenty minutes or people hollering in drunken merriment. The only sound here was the distant rumbling of thunder, a warning of an approaching summer storm. I couldn’t help but smile to myself for I was finally home, but a sadness lingered in my peripheral.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I missed New York City, or rather that I missed being away. When I was there the only thing I wanted was to go home, but now all I want is to leave. It’s funny how we are never satisfied with what we have. My homesickness got pretty bad when I was in New York City, but now that I am home I feel a sort of restlessness creeping ever closer. People are full of contradictions and I am in no way exempt. I posses a strong desire to travel, but at the same time I feel more comfortable at home. I despise being idle, yet I tire easily. All these contradictions and more are just part of who I am, and they help explain my conflicting emotions that I felt while standing outside that evening.

I am unsure as to where I am going with this. Maybe before I just type blindly I should plan out what I want to write, but that’s never really been my style. Writing whatever comes to mind has always been easier to me. I tend to forfeit coherence and structure for ease and authenticity. There will be no perfect ribbon to tie up this blog series, I have come to terms with that now. I have nothing else to say except that I’ve never been very good at wrapping presents. Like my writing, I prefer to just wing it.

A final look at New York City

A final look at New York City

 

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No Place like Home

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 We arrived in Penn Station at 12ish on Saturday afternoon for our train at 2. I had lunch with Courtney, Dr. Norwood, and Professor Steel(e)? I don’t know (he wasn’t my professor but he was really nice). Anyways, we got on the train and it took us 10 hours just to reach and then leave Washington D.C.

These posts…y’all know how much I missed home while I was gone. Knowing that 10 hours out of a supposedly 18 hour train ride had passed and we weren’t even halfway home was beyond irritating. The staff on this train was way ruder than on our way up. Courtney was my seat mate and she spent most of the time asleep, lucky her. Anyway the train was supposed to arrive in Atlanta at like 8 something in the morning on Sunday. I’m not going to go into a ton of detail here, so I’ll keep it simple. Between leaving Washington D.C. and making it to the Amtrak station at some point the bathrooms in our car went out (so we had to use others), our A.C went out and it was hot as mess, and we spent over an hour like 5 seconds away from the Amtrak for kicks and giggles and then once we got there they made us wait again for about that long just to get off the train.

There were people on this trip who loved New York, but I don’t care how much you loved that city. Once you were on the train and heading home you were ready to be home. Not spend 32 hours on a stupid train with stupid people. Courtney did point out that we did get lucky in one respect though. The little kids in our car were remarkably well behaved for having been on the train just as long as us. I have to agree considering I was about to lose my mind. We had a wager going on too about when we would arrive. That the 10pm bet won made me mad.

I was frustrated too because I was counting on the train arriving somewhere near on time. My mom was really excited that I was coming home, just like I was excited to be home so she had planned a movie and dinner with my stepmom, brother, and his girlfriend. Needless to say it didn’t happen. We’re going to dinner tonight instead. Anyways, I was hungry so my mom, even though it was already past midnight by the time I got home, had made food and heated it for me while I took a quick shower and stuff.

32 hours on a train and a shower was very high on my priority list. It was exciting. She stayed up with me and chatted while I ate and then we both went to bed. I slept past noon today. My bed was amazing. If y’all remember my first post, about my dorm room being blank, then I should probably say that not having any real story was kind of sad, but it’s nice to be home, where my story can continue on. I have my room, my dog, and my mother. Even though it took longer than I would have liked, there really is no place like home.

That train staff is going to have tons of complaints and refunds to hand out. My Aunt asked me yesterday what I would do if they offered me a free ticket to anywhere. I said that maybe I’ll use it in 50 years. If ever. 

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The Last Stop

This is not nearly all that is leftover from my trip. Some things cannot be counted.

When you’re trapped on a train for 30+ hours, you have plenty of time to think and reflect. When will my next hot shower be? Next hot meal? Will I ever see my dogs again? My friends and family? Who will panic first: me, one of my students, the four-year-old sitting five rows up? What did I forget? Who did I forget to buy a souvenir for? Did I lose any weight from all of that walking? Was this really the right time to quit smoking? (Turns out “no” on that last question, so don’t get too excited). But of course, as a writer, I was mostly thinking about what my last post would look like—how I would sum up this trip, how I would convey what I’ve learned and experienced overall.  And this is how it turned out—a return to an old lesson again.

I was nervous about this trip when we started talking about it last August, but by May, when everyone had paid his/her money and it was absolutely official, I was physically ill with anxiety. There was the planning: excruciating for someone as disorganized as I can be. There was the fact that I had never spent more than three days in New York City, and now I was going to have to navigate it…with 21 other people. 21 other people that I didn’t know that well: 19 students, 2 faculty members. It turns out that this is the lesson. It’s never about the place; it’s always about the people. No matter where you are, people have the potential to ruin your experience or to enhance it. I’m not talking about the helpful (and sometimes rude) strangers I encountered. I’m talking about our group—our family of 22.

I was also privileged to catch up with two old friends while I was on this trip, one that I hadn’t seen in months and one that I hadn’t seen in several years. Sitting on a rooftop in Williamsburg, I confessed to one of these friends that I didn’t feel very open anymore—that maybe this inability to be “open” was dragging down my self-esteem a good bit. She calmed my fears by telling me that this was common with folks our age—she’d heard plenty of people in their mid-thirties and forties express this sort of anxiety. I was still thinking about that conversation, along with the rest of the trip, as I struggled to survive the long road home. I sort of knew that, once I got back to Georgia, I was going to realize that I now feel more open. And that this wasn’t only because of three weeks spent immersed in the arts in New York City, but that this was actually mainly because of three weeks spent with an open and endearing group of people.

Let me tell you about them. On our second day there, one student expressed that her favorite thing about the city was that she didn’t feel like a minority there, that no one asked her “what are you?,” that she felt accepted and a part of something. On the third day, one faculty member laughed the entire time we had to pay INDIVIDUALLY for 22 Metrocards, which saved me from a near-panic attack and taught me not to worry so much about the details. Another student—of legal age—remarked that he had been to only one bar in his life before this trip and now he was out with his peers every night. My other colleague researched and led us on a lovely tour of Greenwich Village and the East Village, reciting poetry to us at nearly every stop (my favorite was a recital of the Ramones at the old CBGB’s). More than once at a museum, I overheard an art student explaining the significance of a painting to an English student. On my own, I conversed with art and English students about the importance of Jack Kerouac, the real “story” of hip hop, the experience of eating Ethiopian food and soup dumplings. We talked about music, about writing, about reading, about art and photography, about shoes and shopping, and sometimes just plain old life B.S. I did plenty of eavesdropping, and on their own, this group talked about relationships, their families, their goals and pursuits, their adaptability to what was around them. The students seemed to fall in love with the city—or at least certain aspects of it. They seemed to fall in love with each other, mostly metaphorically, and treated each other with respect. Then one of them literally fell in love with a New Yorker, and I wondered if he’d get on the train with us. And then two of the students didn’t. They didn’t get on the train. They found an apartment in two days. They stayed in New York City to pursue life dreams (or just some summer fun), very Carson-esque, even if they don’t realize it right now. All of this—ALL of it—comes with openness, an openness to the place and an openness with other people.

It occurs to me that, in 1940s Brooklyn, this is what the February House was all about. A grouping of artists that lived together, discussed life, became inspired and reflective because of these discussions. Sure, there was competitiveness, disorder, arguing, even some loneliness and some lostness, but as author Sherill Tippins sums up, each of them had been inspired either to create or did create some of the greatest work of their lives. And they formed lasting friendships, lasting memories. So, now, left to look at the trinkets brought back with me from the great city of New York, I am most moved to consider the people that lived with me for three weeks and inspired me to cultivate their openness. To lose the anxiety and just adapt. To live fully with curiousity. Thanks, y’all.

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Filed under Dance, Film, Food, History, Literature, Music, Neighborhood Fun, Photography, Popular Culture, Theatre, Visual Arts

Welcome to the CSU NY Arts Program Blog!

Follow students from Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia as they travel to and study in New York City this summer. Get the latest updates on their adventures with the arts communities of NYC!


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