As I write this entry for the “blogging my trip to georgia” thread, I’m aware that there is another thread taking place here and on other blogs, and it’s a thread that started much earlier than my participation in it, and I realize that I’ve not really responded to (“participated in”?) the much earlier posts from, for example, Chuck, but I’d really like to finish the Georgia thread right now, and I only have so much time tonight.
Starting backwards. On Friday morning (August 8), Chuck did me the huge favor of getting up at around 6:00 a.m., which is like the middle of the night for him, to drive me to the MARTA station, where I could catch a train to the airport. Atlanta gets this part of its transportation system right: the subway goes right to the airport. No catching a bus, a cab, a taxi, or a light rail train to the subway. Just pay your $1.75 and go. Delta, which is Atlanta based, even has self-serve check-in kiosks right inside the MARTA station, so before you even enter the actual airport, you will have checked your luggage and printed out your own boarding pass. The actual flight home was uneventful. I was in KC by 9:30 a.m. What did I do with my day? I slept. Too much excitement on the trip.
Thursday I spent looking at mostly manuscript material in the Special Collections at Emory‘s Robert W. Woodruff library. As I mentioned earlier, the papers that held my interest the most were those of Augustus Toplady.
Being on Emory’s campus was a strange experience and here’s why: Emory is a leafy green private university. I did not ever attend Emory University. As a BA and MA student, I attended Georgia State University, Atlanta’s urban public institution of higher learning. While a student, I worked part-time at the Kinko’s across the street from Emory, so my only interaction with faculty and students there was in a service position. How different, then, to be the one with the Ph.D. receiving deference and assistance from university staff in the libraries.
I had a moment of connection on two different days with young women working at a local coffee place when I talked about having worked in a similar job. “Coffee shop”, “copy shop”: they even sort of sound alike. Neither of them were Emory students, though they were college students, and both of them seemed to feel the same sense of outsider wariness with regard to the Emory community that I had felt. When one of them learned that I was now a professor of English (she asked), she wrinkled her brow and said, “Really?” Now what did that mean? Do I look too young? Too dumb? Too hip? (Yeah, right.)
That night Chuck and I picked up a pizza from Athens Pizza, and then later Mike took us to Waffle House for a slice of pie. In some ways, hanging out was fun like it used to be back in the early ’90s when we were all MA students together at Georgia State, but in other ways things will never be the same in that our lives have changed such that we have more to worry about than we used to. Worrying about publications, about landing a good job (note to any UMKC readers: I consider what I have a good job), about tenure, about relationships, about children, about parents. Maybe worry isn’t the right word. And maybe for Chuck and Mike being together feels the same as it always has. For some reason I sometimes experience surprise at finding myself in the middle of an adult life. How did this happen?
I wrote earlier about daytime activities on Wednesday. That evening, Chuck, S, and I headed north of town for dinner with Mike, Jenna and their two children. I hadn’t seen the kids in about two years, and of course they are much bigger and much more language-y than they were when last I saw them. I have no desire for kids of my own, but it sure is fun to spend time with someone else’s.
Here was an interesting moment: while we were playing, I picked up the older of the two and put her on top of a tall box. Her reaction was, “How am I going to get down?” Ah, a pragmatist. Her younger brother’s reaction to the same thing when it was his turn was, “Hee-heee!” A free spirit. Of course, he saw his older sister come down with no problem, so he had the benefit of empirical observation, not just theoretical speculation.
I had a very good conversation with Mike as we washed dishes while the other grown-ups put the kids to bed. It sometimes feels that moments of true connection come too infrequently and at unusual times. But at least they come.
Especially interesting was all my time with Chuck because back in the day, before the grad school diaspora, when there was Chuck, there was Jim, and Jim talks. A lot. (I can speak of Jim with
impudence impunity because he never reads my blog.) So I appreciated the opportunity to have the conversations that we did.
How does one conclude an entry you’ve written in reverse chronological order? Maybe you just stop.