Something happened to us this fall. In fact, it's one of those things that you don't have words for -- not easy words, at least -- and so you call it, "the thing that happened this fall." (In Girl Talk, there was something that the family didn't have words for and they called it The Summer that Never Happened.)
It changed us. It made us pull together closely as a family. It made it clear that we needed to rethink -- for the long haul -- what we want our lives to look like and where we want to be.
I wanted to go home. This is what happens to me sometimes. Home. It's all I can think of. My homing device is set on Newark, Delaware -- probably the sweetest, kindest place you can imagine -- or at least that's how I imagine it.
And yet Dave lived with me there for ten years. He wanted his mountains back or cities, he wants cities. And our kids, well, that's why we're moving. Our kids. Our family. And so we pulled up a map and we researched, and we're headed due north, to the bitter progressive cold of Massachusetts -- or at least that's where we're currently honing in. -- nearer to much of our family -- damn, I've missed family -- and old long-lost friends and access to Boston and New York.
What is home anyway? Robert Frost's definition is it's the place that if you go there, they will take you in. We want to be taken in. Sometimes we talk about feeling like immigrants; it's hard to explain without explaining it all -- and we don't have words yet.
But leaving here? We're just making more long-lost friends. In this new migratory culture, is this what it feels like? A string of long lost friends, a constant spinning off and away from those you form deep friendships with -- in one time and place -- only to land in a new time and place?
Today we worried about the kids being uprooted -- this has been home for 8 years. I said to Dave, "Wait, you know what the French would do in a situation like ours?"
He said, "Take a lover?"
"Blame the Greeks then take a lover?" (Funny, right? A short discussion of European politics ensued -- about which we think we know something and really don't. It ended quickly.)
"The French would say," and I put on a French accent, "The children, they are adaptive. This is why they will be fine. It's like this." (I love it when the French say It's like this. Also, note: My French accent face is not my best look.)
So, you might be thinking, "Baggott, you got a job up there or what?" (I don't know why I have you speaking like you're an extra in The Sopranos.)
No. I don't. Actually, I'm very happily able to retain my relationship with Florida State University --where I've taught for the last 8 years. My line has been moved to the FSU Film School where I will teach courses that are a mix of on-campus and virtual. I will deeply miss teaching in the Creative Writing Program here. I love the ebullience of these students, the no-holds-barred debates, the stunning feats of imagination, the incredible brute work I've seen them pour in. It's been an honor and a privilege to teach these students -- undergraduate and graduate alike. Some of my favorite memories are of these students of mine whose work has made me cry and laugh and delight again in language. They have shaped who I am as a teacher and mentor. I'm awed by their brilliance on the page and humbled by their dedication. And I will also sorely miss my colleagues -- a wonderfully supportive, smart, accomplished group of writers and poets -- who have been so generous.
We're not going anywhere until summer hits. So there's time for us to mourn leaving this town we've come to love, this incredible collection of friends, and the school that stole our hearts and brought us here in the first place: Cornerstone Learning Community. How can we ever repay the gifts they have given each of our children? We'll take everything they've taught us -- about kindness and curiosity and tolerance and giving -- with us wherever we land.
Right now, I can't tell you where we'll be next year, not exactly. I can't tell you where the kids will be going to school. I can't tell you what our day-to-day lives will be like.
It's a leap. We're mid-air. As the French say, It's like this.
Oh, AND ... you can buy our house. This link has all the photos; I love looking inside people's houses. And this one will likely be for rent soon too -- in this market. It's got some solid writerly mojo.
OR you can buy the house my parents live in when they stay here -- a cozy home in the historic area of town.