Tuesday, December 01, 2015


"So what brought you out here?"

I have been interested for a while in listening to myself attempt to answer some of the biggest questions that are posed to me on a daily basis. This particular question's answer is quite heavy and personal yet slips into small-talk with total nonchalance. A typical stab at it goes like this:

"I wasn't sure how to make a big change in my life/career direction unless I relocated to a new place. It's like the overgrowth was so thick that trimming things back to reform it wasn't enough; the whole thing needed to be replanted. I could have stayed and been happy my whole life in Lincoln--I'm quite sure of that. I guess I just wanted to try something else. Who knows why."

Given the casual nature of the conversation, I suppose my cerebral, labyrinthine response is probably a bit more than is expected, but meh--you asked a very pensive person! Also, imagine a bunch of "uhhs" and "hmms" in there. Also, imagine the above making much less sense when constructed in 10-15 seconds instead of the 4-5 minutes it took me to compose the paragraph.

What I'm thinking about today is the fact that the above comes out differently every time I say it (for example, last night I said "ah, wanderlust" and left it, but that's not really true, or is at least only a slice of the truth). I arrange a new group of words every time, and I think ultimately I'm trying to say the answer for myself or else I probably wouldn't try so hard to find the perfect expression of it.

I wish I had audio of these conversations over the last year plus because my suspicion is that the narrative has changed over time. The changes may be subtle or overt, but I know the way I frame it has to have been altered by my experience since moving here. I know my perception of myself as a professional and former academic had a big influence on my earlier explanations, but I can't quite know exactly how it has evolved since then, though it is likely that I'm leaning on that former professional identity significantly less to explain myself these days.

Narratives are hard to pin down for me. I'd have a hard time putting my life's narrative in simple terms because there would be too many parentheticals and asides diverting from the main thread for it to be very linear. I've loved realist authors and novels for many years (Dostoevsky, Clarín, and Galdós spring to mind) because of the incredible detail they inject into every page. Not just the characters and each of their tiny emotions! I will describe for you the lamp as well, dear reader! And I suppose that proclivity leads me to look with the eyes of realism on my life course and want to identify each and every bit of meaning along the way.

I can't give a clear or perfectly framed answer to the question, but the good news is the words are still being lived and written. Maybe next year? Who knows.