Well, an ol’ friend of mine, Colin, has moved off to North Carolina. He’s excited about the prospects of starting fresh in a new town with a house of his own after living here for 19 years. I’ll miss him, and I wish him the best in his new life in beautiful Asheville.
I’ve been thinking of my life, of the way it was when I lived in North Carolina. My talks with Colin, sharing my experiences, memories, joys, and caveats about that state have brought a lot of my life there back to me, and I feel so weird about it. Times there were tough; I make no bones about it, they were tough. Hard scrabble. But every place I went was still fresh. Not much in that mid-20’s time in my life had a chance to go boring.
Well, to think of it, that’s a lie; there were excruciatingly boring times; stale. Very stale. As stale as the air in my closed bedroom; the smell of cigarette residue, dust, chemicals from my work clothes, and sleep. For the eleven months that I worked my night shift job at PBM Graphics, I was nocturnal. I tried what I could to make something of my daylight hours. Gave it the old college try. I would catch the bus and hang out on a city lawn somewhere or do some shopping or just go walking around. But until I was fired from that job, I spent my days and my off nights mostly alone. Wrote a lot of poetry and journal entries. Got emo before “emo” was a word. Worked on my website. Life was dull, and I tried everything I could to make it exciting.
And then, as I mentioned, I got fired. That’s when my whole world changed. I was a daywalker again. But with no income it was a hard life. Paul and I were no longer roomates; he found an apartment in a triplex house north of the UNCG campus, I lived in a locking bedroom in a boarding house just south of campus. Rentwise I was on my own and I did what I could to make rent. Even went so far as to rake the thick blanket of leaves from the boarding house property in a deal to work off my rent.
Outside of looking for work and doing odd jobs here and there, I supported myself by “telemarketing”, meaning I would call my mother and ask her to bank transfer some money, which she did because, for once, she could. And I lived that way for over two months until I wrecked my car in the first snow of the winter and made the decision to move back home.
Well, it was during those hard times that I met the greatest people who ended up being the greatest friends someone could have. Kind people. Smart people. Not your typical coffee shop people. People who would listen to your problems and offer useful advice. People who would have you over for dinner and drinks, no charge. People who would drive you around when your car is stranded and in need of parts from the auto store. I don’t know if Greensboro is just loaded with people like that, or if it was all happenstance that I crossed paths with them and their charity, or if it was just the state my life was in that demanded my reaching out to others to survive, but those were good people. They made my life rich. Their general lack of negative comments and attitudes helped me stay upbeat, kept things fresh. Gave me good perspective.
So, I’m here in Austin, on the eve of my 5-year anniversary as a resident of this good city. Colin has gone away, and I know of others who are making the same moves to other places, and sometimes I have to stop and wonder what it is that’s urging me to keep my life in Austin. I get shaken about it sometimes, because right now my life is really, really stale. It feels that way more often than not. It’s good to be established, I guess. It’s good to have longevity when it comes to jobs, residences, habits, friendships, being a regular patron somewhere, yeah…but it’s stale. It’s boring.
I’m not considering moving back to North Carolina. At least not seriously. I know in my heart and mind that if I did it would not be the world I knew. Those 15 months there were unique and cannot be duplicated. They were at a time in my own lifespan where the neurology of feeling “fresh” about life was more prevalent, where feeling haggard and tired didn’t happen. I’ve aged, and these eyes of mine have seen a lot since then, so the innocence, newness, virginity of living there won’t exist, at least not to the same scale. Just as anywhere else. I’m sure if I would’ve lived in Greensboro for five years I’d most likely be feeling some semblance of what I’m feeling now.
I feel like I need a change. A different view on life. A different set of motivations. I’m not asking for sudden termination at my job. I’m not asking for eviction from my apartment. I’m not even asking for a different roomate. What I’m asking for is a sea change in my mindset; the ability to see things with new eyes, to find things that are still fresh, that are allowed to be fresh in the eyes of my friends. I don’t want the pass-or-fail edge that my final 2 months in Greensboro had, but I want the attention it inspired in me, the connections it inspired me to make. The last time I felt that was almost 5 years ago, and it’s time for an end to the stale.