Every time I post about how I perceive my life, I imagine that a number of people don't want to read it (maybe accurate!). Why do I post this? Partly because my blog is also a diary (and experiment in openness), partly because it's a way for anyone who knew me once to still know who I am (maybe in ways more intimate than actually interacting with me), and partly because I want to be a data point in how other people can understand human nature (presuming others are as interested in that topic as I am). I'm no Samuel Pepys, but I am a real person who might be part of the cornucopia of people people generally sample when trying to build their mindspace (maybe thinking about it this way is not something most people do).
This week was the first *real* amount of movage. The U-Haul was great for getting the bulky/difficult things across the state, but driving it was like riding a willful-and-ill horse. I also had no help on either side of the move, so I am very bruised and sore (and this morning I finished lugging things at 5:30am). There's enough stuff in the Casa Del Sol now to start to feel like a home; I have tea and bread and other things, but no internet yet (tethering works but is very slow). Sunday will be a Megabus back to Pittsburgh. Ahh, Pittsburgh.
This is intentional. I did not move to immediately be happy or comfortable; at least one of the reasons to move was to shake my life up, as I was too complacent in Pittsburgh despite some things being very dissatisfactory. I will not be as tempted to put down roots here; I know this is a temporary place where I'll stay 6 months to two years and then move on, either to grad school or someplace else. Philadelphia is not inherently lovable as Pittsburgh, nor even the best place to be right now except as a place to figure things out. Also, the Casa Del Sol is very nice as apartment complexes go, but I am in-general unhappy in this kind of living arrangement. If I wanted to move to another city to love it, NYC, Boston, Austin, Santa Barbara, etc, would be better. It's shock therapy. I wish I could import a few familiar faces from Pgh here though.
Still, for the shock, the area is not bad. It lacks the wonderful parks/nature that Pittsburgh has (I will really miss being a short walk to deep woods), and the design is one main road (Lancaster Avenue) with suburbs off on either side. There are very good restaurants and stores of various kinds within easy walking/biking distance, and I'm not far from a train station that will take me into the city proper. 「Khajuraho India」 has among the best Indian dishes I've ever had, there's a Brueggers practically outside the apartment complex's door, and there's a Whole Foods not far away. It lacks the feel I like, but should be livable for awhile.
I am not thrilled at dipping into savings, and I'm doing my best to nudge/twist arms with various groups at CMU to let me do some part-time contract work to keep at least a little money coming in (some of this may be a need to maintain personal ties; leaving CMU weakens my identity). I know I have the funds to live like this without working for awhile, but I don't want to do that.
There are two things that really hit me emotionally about the move:
- Being forgotten - At CMU I was never a fulltime student, and that was one of the things that made me peripheral to the social scenes; the shared experiences of undergrad life or grad school were barred to me. There was a certain class that I felt a strong emotional affinity to; I joined CMU about a year before they started, hung out with them a lot, and then they graduated and left, mostly for California. I thought of them as being as close to my people (I was at least in distant orbit around that crowd). I worry about being forgotten by them though, because I was around but not similar enough. The yearbooks won't have a 「Pat Gunn」 in them, and they may remember me for a few years if my name comes up, but in the end those ties are not reinforced by the structure of the university nor the way I actually did interact with the social circle. This feels to me like I felt a lot closer to them than they did to me, and hooks into a deep fear I have of Unpersonhood. This should be pretty understandable though; I think it's natural to want to really matter to people, and university staff often are a bit alienated this way. Maybe grad school will change all this, once I get in.
- Giving up on dreams - There are many personal ties that I wanted to make or deepen that never ended up working out. A good number of the people involved left town, but for those that remained, leaving Pittsburgh meant giving up on those ties. Thinking rationally, it was unlikely I ever could've made them into what I wanted, but emotionally I still depended on those hopes; our hopes and fantasies define us, and now all that's gone. Even if I move back to Pittsburgh in a few years, many of the people will scatter further. There's no way to step back into what I'm leaving, just like stepping into the same stream twice.
There's another dimension to this that's private for now.
I think there's a tribal reality that no longer holds that might account for some of this friction; in the EEA, we probably remained in the same tribe for our entire lives. I suffered this pain many times throughout my life, I don't know if I am more sensitive to it or just more aware of it. Douglas Adams touched upon this when talking about the tendency of individuals (Ford Prefect in this case), under stress, to give a sudden impression to those around them exactly how far they are from where they were born.
It's been challenging to manage work and moving at the same time.
Tomorrow (Saturday): Random Hacks of Kindness, a 2-day (no sleep?!) hackathon for good causes. Right afterwards, on sunday I'll stumble onto a bus back to Pittsburgh and my now significantly emptier apartment (but with proper Internet and cats).
Completely unrelated: Dice are slowly falling against Qadaffi in Libya (woot), and Dr Kevorkian recently died. On the latter, I consider him to have been a good man, full of courage to do the right thing against misguided foes. The ability to choose a dignified and comfortable death should not be denied to anyone in good mental health, regardless of the reason they seek it, and assisting that should be permitted (there should be sufficient protection against foul play).