The continuing adventures

On Friday I left NYC around noon to go to DC. I hit traffic outside of every major city from NYC to DC. On the way I thought about moving to Buffalo, which has presented me with some anxiety but as I drove I also thought, “I am a poet of place without my place– perhaps that’s why I haven’t written since leaving the place.” Except for the traffic, it was a nice drive. Around 7 I arrived in DC, where Sandra Beasley was kind enough to throw a party for me in her gorgeous new apartment. Many wonderful people came: Ken & Lisa, Maureen & Jeff, Ryan, Buck, Kevin, Cathy, Rod and Mel. I was so happy that so many people came. I had very good talks with Maureen, Sandra, Rod and Mel, and I talked to Cathy more than I ever have before. Cathy brought a friend who’d lived in Alabama and knew what “being from Mountain Brook” meant but anyways encouraged me to go to the H.S. reunion. However, I have now received the official invitation and officially declined it. My h.s. boyfriend (the one before Aaron) said, in his e-rsvp, that he would come if his wife hadn’t had their baby yet. I figured– as much as I really want to see all those people again– being around the happy couple, with or without their baby, was just too much. Plus, a friend of mine had already RSVP’d “no” and my parents won’t be in town that weekend, so why bother. And the simple logic: “I hated high school. Why would I want to relive it?”

Anyway, the DC reunion was fabulous. The following morning, I awoke and had coffee and blueberry scones with Kevin, who had been so thoughtful as to get scones. He said there was some advantage to posting so much personal information on my blog– that he thought, “girl likes baked goods. Get scones.” I felt taken-care of, which is such a lovely feeling. I told him Creeley’s Zukofsky story. A couple of hours later we ate brunch with Maureen and Jeff at a creole-y place, where I had shrimp and grits. Our walk around Eastern Market, with its plethora of rose bushes and, of course, the incomparable market, in the warm late-spring sun, filled me with happiness. I thought, “why am I moving to Buffalo? It’s so great down here.” The poetry community in DC is really something, I must say. It’s really supportive. I’ve always felt welcomed and encouraged there.

Saturday afternoon I took a nap, then there was a small exodus to Baltimore where I read with “Blaster” Al Ackerman and Morgan Lukas Schudlt. I read last. The reading was ok– there will be a recording. I read from OFC, and I just sort of read “around” in it– a few “lines” here, a few there. The crowd was pretty good– all my Baltimore friends plus a lot of DC folks. I received a couple of niceties and some actual compliments, including a very supportive one from Rod. The passed-hat culled a lot of money, basically paying for the tank of gas that got me to and from the DC area.

Directly after the reading I drove back to NY. I’d taken a non-toll route down (to DC), but I couldn’t get from Baltimore to NYC without going on the NJ turnpike, so tolls were like $20. My GPS has this great feature where you can tell it to avoid tolls, but to avoid tolls out of Baltimore it would have taken me twice as long to get to NYC. As it was, it took about 5 hours. I came home exhausted but wired on caffeine.

Sunday morning I went to brunch with my brother and his girlfriend, since otherwise I’m not sure when I’ll see them again. Then I packed. Then I rounded up some stuff that Boy left at my house and took it to his house. Then I tried to sleep. I awoke at 8, drugged the cats and put them in their carriers, got the Penske truck and moved all the stuff at my house into it (with the help of Sarah and some sketchy but efficient moving men who charged $16/hr). I left the house empty, but not terribly clean– it will need a sweep and a vacuum before the next tenant moves in (I had to do the same when I moved in, but normally when I move out I do a serious cleaning first; then again, normally I do not move into such a filthy place). Then I moved all the stuff in my storage unit into the truck. Then I went back to Penske and they attached the car dolly and car, and I was out of NYC by 1:30. But I was also completely exhausted. So around 4 I pulled off at a rest stop and napped. Instead of making me feel refreshed, the nap just indicated to me how exhausted I was. I kept driving, but I only made it as far as Corning before I stopped for the night. I stopped around 9, which means that I drove for 6-7 hours. In Corning I flopped down on the hotel bed, watched t.v. and ate pizza. I was to pay for this in many ways.

Early this morning I got up and threw up. I don’t know whether it was the pizza itself, or merely the act of eating pizza on a relatively empty stomach, but after awhile the effort of expelling the food from my system had left me weak, and after emailing the friends who’d agreed to help me move into my storage unit in Buffalo at noon, I went back to bed. I slept until noon, then continued driving to Buffalo. Yesterday I had begun to calm down about the move when I approached Binghamton and the rolling hills of Western New York. There is something about the landscape in WNY that is so expansive and beautiful. There are rolling hills in Virginia and Alabama, but they’re not as widely spaced and the flora is different. It’s like the landscape in WNY is relaxed. Today as I took the 20 into Buffalo the landscape renewed me and quelled my fears. I thought, “even if I move to DC in the future, I need to be here now. If I moved anywhere else now, I’d be thinking about how to get back here.” I thought, “maybe this landscape naturally produces open field work” (since I developed my style without having ever read Olson or knowing about this stuff). However, driving a truck with a car on the back is a slow task made slower by said rolling hills (I was in second gear a lot). Eventually, I pulled into Penske and they took my car and the dolly off the back of the truck. I then drove to the place that I thought would be my storage unit. By now it was 4:30. I assumed the storage place would be open until at least 6, but this one was only open until 5. And although a week ago when I called they’d had 3 mid-sized (6×9) units available, when I came in they only had one smaller unit and one very, very large one. So that was pretty much a bust. But it was ok since no one that I’d asked to reschedule the moving-in (due to my stop and morning sickness in Corning) was available at that time in the afternoon anyway. So tomorrow I need to find a new storage unit, get help moving stuff in, and return the Penske– hopefully by noon so I don’t have to pay for an extra day of having the truck. It can be done, but it will be a challenge.

Since I couldn’t do anything else, I drove the Penske to my new house. I took the cats and my bags to the porch and sat and waited for someone to come home from work and let me in. Sitting on the porch was pleasant, as today was one of Buffalo’s classic beautiful, sunny, warm-but-not-hot summer days. Three of the five guys arrived at once and we took the cats upstairs and let them out of their cages– they immediately hid. I took my stuff up to the cute attic guest room, then went out in search of dinner. I live about a block from where I lived in 2002, and it’s a great location. I walked to one of my favorite cafes and ordered soup and 1/2 sandwich. But because they’d made a mistake with another sandwich previously in the day, they gave me a whole sandwich.

I went back home and talked to the boy whose room I’ll be subleasing over the summer. He said that even with utilities, rent is usually under $200/mo. His room is really big. In fact, the attic room that’s currently used as a guest room and is considered small is larger than my room in NYC. By my most conservative calculation, Brian’s room is almost 200% bigger than my room in New York. And when utilities are at their highest, it costs less than half and much as the room in NYC (without utilities).

It’s cold outside now, the boys are about to watch a movie, and I’m winding down. There’s still a lot to do tomorrow, so I’d better get some sleep.


About Jessica Smith
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2 Responses to The continuing adventures

  1. Lydia says:

    Whew! I started reading this and – although it’s 3:00 AM – I was hooked on the tale of your move and read it all with great interest. It’s good you made the decision you did about the reunion; now you can breathe about that thing that you don’t have to endure. The Buffalo area sounds lovely, and returning to a familiar neighborhood sounds comforting. I wonder if any of your cats lived there with you before and might recognize smells, etc. All in all it’s been an eventful month for you and you deserve peace to collect yourself so I’ll shut up now.

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