Today is exactly the one-year anniversary of my departure for France. I can’t believe everything that can happen in just 12 months. I made so many new friends, saw places I never dreamed I would, and did things I never thought I would be confident enough to do. In a way, maybe I wish I’d renewed my contract to teach another year, as the job search is such as Sisyphean task. I wondered this morning if that is partly why I can’t seem to fall complete in love with Brooklyn and New York. I guess I’m a little afraid that it’s not going to work out here, and I’m tired of saying goodbye to places and people I love. That’s another thing I did more of this past year than ever before. But I guess the price of satisfying your wanderlust is that you will never be able to completely root as securely as Aspen trees that cling to each other underground and you’ll always have to be ready to plant yourself in some new, loose soil.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in the DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) neighborhood and volunteering at the Dumbo Arts Center to help with a very cool installation of red paper trees. The gallery oddly looks a lot like Untitled [ArtSpace], where I worked in Oklahoma City. I’m also going to be working at the Under the Bridge Festival this coming weekend and am really looking forward to all the experimental art. The volunteering has been great for meeting people and seeing another part of Brooklyn. I can’t believe how huge and diverse this borough is.
What keeps New York so engaging for me is that you never know who or what you’re going to run into. I was taking a tour around DUMBO when we spotted these artists emerging from the East River wearing inflatable outfits. Someone in our group said that they were meant to protect you if you fell from high buildings. It seemed like an alien invasion to me. But the most random coincidence of my weekend was when I was waiting on the subway platform and as the train pulled up someone approached me and I realized it was the documentary filmmaker who had taught at Quartz Mountain this summer. I was a little in shock for a few minutes, but it was so awesome to see a familiar Oklahoma face and I went to a party that night for one of his friend’s birthdays. I still can’t believe all the circumstantial details that had to happen so that we were in the same place at the same time.
I feel like I probably talk too much about Oklahoma, but things just keep coming up that remind me of my favorite state. I walked into a gallery the other day and heard The Flaming Lips and saw that a stage version of Rainbow Around the Sun, which I saw at deadCenter, was going to be performed here in October. Rather than make me too homesick, I feel like these coincidences are helping make me feel more like I belong here. Although with all that’s going on every day, in every neighborhood, does anyone not belong here?