Small-town time

So, two weeks ago, I posted while completely blacked out about how I called my mother while blacked out, because that seemed like a thing to post here. I’ve moved to a small town to teach literature for a year, and I’m not sure how time passes at all anymore.

Since then, I’ve made very close friends with a few people, because that’s what you do in this sort of scenario. Immediately, I found the other single woman on campus who loves Kurt Weill operas and non-monogamous bisexuality, and that’s how things go. In New York, that would have taken three years, but in small-town America, we’re celebrating our birthdays together and I’ve met some of her family. How else you gonna do?

The weird thing about small-town life is the married people. I don’t dislike them, but they are different from the marrieds I know in the city. I’m really hard-pressed to think of strictly monogamous couples I know, or people who define their relationships according to clear definitions of Straight or LGBTQblahblah, whereas here a friend has encouraged me to be a faculty adviser for the queer club because I’m one of the few who doesn’t consider a husband part of the landscape. What do I have to offer these kids? I have pretty random sex, if I have sex at all, with whoever is around and doesn’t bore me. Is that a sexual orientation? I’m mostly celibate because I can’t be bothered to give a fuck.

There are somehow a million meetings and yet nothing to do. I met this amazing woman, truly beautiful and talented and emotionally present, who said she plays music and drinks every night because that’s what there is here. Is that what there is here?

I don’t know if I have time to try to date, or the energy to do so. I wish I had visitors all the time to distract me from this question because I don’t think I’d like to. The prospect is not entertaining.

And yet, there is so much going on. Every time there is a reading or a gallery opening I see all the people I know because that’s most of the people that are. I thought that would feel claustrophobic, but it doesn’t. It’s rather nice, in fact. I feel known, and no one is hostile or demeaning to be around.

It’s been a week since I saw my classes for the first time, because of Labor Day, and it feels like forever ago. My classes have almost doubled in size since then. Every week is like starting over.

I spend my time in this big quiet house thinking about crickets and how the cicadas are gone. I sleep like a baby.

5 responses to “Small-town time”

  1. lane says:

    this post makes some great images in my head.

    it sounds like … a strange fun adventure.

    do you have to look for a new job in January to be ready for Sept. 2012? That part sounds crappy. But the itineracy of it sounds fun.

  2. F. P. Smearcase says:

    The pacing of friendship in New York, or perhaps I mean in adulthood and outside of school, is indeed its own thing. I always felt like I had an easy time populating my life with friends but it took me five years here not to feel lonely a lot of the time.

    These generalizations are rather weightless, of course, but it’s sometimes felt to me as though if you live here and aren’t in your 20s, you have to make a huge effort to have a social life. I’m a little raw about it now, of course, since two of my three close friends here now live a few hours away. It’s an undignified process, and one that makes me question a lot of things, to try to russle up a new set of dearest friends.

    (Inevitably I quote Lorrie Moore. “One of the problems with people in Chicago, she remembered, was that they were never lonely at the same time.”)

  3. A White Bear says:

    Sadly, because the job cycle takes about 11 months, I have to start looking for a job now. A lot of applications are due in October and November. It’s really exhausting to think about. Being on the job market in a niche field, responding to job advertisements that don’t reflect what the department actually wants, paying hundreds of dollars to go to interviews for departments who can’t be bothered to tell you that you are rejected for several months–it’s exhausting and depressing. I feel like I spent my spring being buried under rejection letters, ranging from super-polite to pointlessly cruel, and that was still better than not receiving a rejection at all. When I interviewed for my current position and everyone was really supportive and kind, I thought maybe it was a joke, that they were being nice because they already had someone else in mind for the job.

    I am not looking forward to going through this again, and possibly again the year after that, and maybe again and again. Permanent faculty positions are very difficult to get.

  4. k-sky says:

    A friend who taught in Iowa had a blog he named “Out Here We Make Our Own Fun.”

  5. Rachel says:

    As I was reading your post, AWB, I was thinking how great it is that you are making friends. Since it would take you 10+ years in a small town not to be considered “new” anymore (double that if you’re in New England), lots of people don’t even want to invest the energy into someone they know will be leaving in a year. Sad, but true.

    It’s also great that you know who you are and are relatively confident, with strong friendship networks nationwide. Many people move from the city to smaller towns and realize that the place they were coming from was interesting; they themselves, not very. Cloaking oneself in the charisma of urban life is really not the same as having charisma. But you can be awesome anywhere. I have met some of the coolest people in my little prairie town. The remoteness creates wildly eccentric variations, like the Galapagos or something.

    An adjustment period is to be expected. For me one of the hardest parts was not giving a shit about football, and knowing that would never change. But if you have even the slightest inclination to get out and enjoy nature, do that. It’s pretty gratifying.