By the time you read this, I will be on the road and heading east for Baltimore.
At no time since I set this application process into motion in June of 2011 did I ever really feel, on a visceral level, that I was actually going to end up in some other place, doing some other thing. For the last year, the future has always seemed, to me, like it will be essentially similar to the present.
Even now, I don’t really feel much of a sense of trepidation. It just seems kind of weird to me, almost like some out of body experience. I listed down all the steps I needed to take in order to move, and for the last two weeks I’ve slowly undertaken them. I’ve said my goodbyes, but without any sense that I’m actually going to stop seeing these people. I’ve cleaned my apartment and disposed of my possessions, but without any sense that I’m never going to see this place again. I’ve tried to write some stories that could be presented in my MFA workshop, but without any sense that, someday soon, I will be working under very different conditions.
This stands in marked contrast to all my previous leavetakings. When I went to college and when I left college, when I moved back home and when I left home, I always felt this impending sense of nostalgia. The world would take on a golden haze, and I’d pre-emptively start to miss all the people and things that I’d leave behind. As the date for leavetaking approached, I’d be filled with this tremendous anxiety and fear.
This time, I kept expecting that to happen, but it never did. I’m not sure why.
Maybe in a week or two or four or eight, it will hit me that my life has become tremendously different and that I’ve lost a time and place and social set that I will, most likely, never recover. I guess we’ll see.
But, in the meantime, I just want to say that I’ve had a really great time in Oakland and in the Bay Area. I feel tremendously grateful to all the college friends (and acquaintances), writers, techies, Oakland hipsters, and other assorted folks who allowed me into their lives. Although I can’t really name everyone who deserves to be named, I will mention that I’m particularly grateful to Brian, my former college roommate. I moved to Oakland after visiting him in May of 2010.
When I arrived, he went out of his way to show me around and introduce me to his social circle. It would not be that much of an exaggeration to say that he introduced me to every single person I know in the East Bay. Most people don’t have the deftness and social acuity to arrange a friend’s debut into society. It’s because of him that these last eighteen months were the complete and total success that they were.
Because that’s really what I got out of Oakland. I felt like I didn’t have much of a community when I was living in DC (a situation that was entirely my own fault). When I came out here, I knew that I wanted things to be different, but I wasn’t really sure how to make that happen. The problem with making friends and meeting people is that it’s very difficult to practice. In order to practice meeting new people, you need to already know people. Brian’s vast acquaintanceship certainly allowed me to get a lot of practice.
And I am really happy that I got to meet everyone. Y’all are fun, thoughtful, and fascinating people. And getting to know you has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life.