I love driving the road home to my house in the valley. I love even more when my father drives me home on this road. I can relinquish responsibility. I can fall asleep and feel safe doing so. He drove me to our house, covered with stars, and I fell asleep in my bed of imitation-ish silk, gray walls that match the walls in my room here on the coast. I love falling asleep at my house. Except for when I'm terrified that the phone will ring. Which is always. I guess what I mean is that I love waking up at my house. Because the light is always perfect and my room is always cozy and I always get to be just a bit younger than I am. Except and even on days when I have to wake up at 7am, which was almost every day I was home because I was commuting between Littleton and Boulder for the &Now conference. I have seen this specific light very few times in the 22 years we've owned that house. Because I was either too young to remember, or I was a teenager who slept in, or I was a teenager who had to wake up to go to high school so early that it was never even light out yet, or I was an adult who slept in, or I was an adult who slept elsewhere. My house is always the safest between 6:30am and 10am as long as no one is home, or it's a weekend, or everyone's quiet. Other than that, it's impossible to say.
My five days in Colorado were a perfect balance of home & solitude and conferencing & chaos. I only got to see conference people, one non-conference friend, and my immediate family, but I had such a pleasant time with everyone I did get to see that I was more than satisfied. I spent the day before the conference gathering myself into myself in my backyard. And I spent the day after the conference, or the morning at least, having brunch with my parents in yet another hip new Highlands brunch location, which is one of my favorite things to do with my family.
I spent the in-between times crying in my car between Boulder and Littleton and Littleton and Boulder because I love that drive up and down 93 with all my heart, so I left my heart there when I left all the other times, or what my heart used to be, so I found it again, and I found that it's not what it used to be, or can't be what it used to be, so I had to cry because it was different even though it was still, unfortunately, the same.
The conference itself was everything I needed. I forget sometimes what it feels like to be completely surrounded by people who understand what I do, immersed in an environment where nothing else exists but teaching and writing and reading and academia and publishing. This might sound like some folks' version of hell, even folks who live that life, but I'm still just so grateful to be here that I was, as they say, a pig in shit all weekend. I got to hear my friends drop brilliance bombs all over everyone. I got to test run my first hypertext essay in front of real live humans who actually know what I mean when I say hypertext essay. I got to sit in bars and hotel lobbies and have conversations about job searches and publishers and journals and pedagogy and future projects. And of course, because all these things are also really just about love and hate and death and life, I got to learn and re-learn things I need to know. I got to listen to some people from various parts of my life read things that inspired me. One person even read a story in which a character named A makes a small appearance. Which is, coincidentally, my first initial. And he was, coincidentally, reading in part about a trip we happened to make to a famous land art installation in the middle of a lake in the middle of a desert last April. [See also: the story I wrote about this]. So many parts of my life converged in Boulder, my home and my heart. From Utah: L&A, L, M, J, J, D, A, R, J. From Los Angeles: A, M, S, T, P. From Colorado: N, L, and a bunch of folks I've "known" for years but never really known.
Oh and I got this awesome bag with Percival's name on it, which at the conference made me feel like a good USC representative, but which, in LA, makes me feel like a fan girl.
That thing about home being a place became true and untrue at &Now. Because I was home, physically, and I was home, with friends from other homes I've had. So Boulder was home because of its physicality, but it became home even more because of the parts of my home, the people, who have never actually been to my home, the place. It was a variation of my dream world in which all my friends live in the same town/city which is an amalgamation of NYC, LA, CO, SLC, the desert, and Buenos Aires, and we all teach and work at the same school, which is a school we founded, and we all hang out at the best bars and restaurants all the time and we walk around together and have conversations about innovation and how annoying the word innovation is and how awesome we are for being innovators regarding the word innovation.
Anyway, here is Boulder, one version of my home, one of the closest facsimiles of home for me, in all its post-flood pre-winter mountain air glory.
I came home from my home feeling refreshed and energized and like a whole person and not like an airplane bathroom. Which was a relief and probably part of the reason I've survived this shockingly, unexpectedly awful first week of October. Because, at the end of every day, I can send my ghost out into the ether and it can find the ghosts of all my friends and I can feel like I will never be lost again because I was never lost to being with.