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Building communities

Last night I read the next journal. While journal #1 was pretty much 1995 (or 1994 - 1995), journal #2 covers 1995 - 1999, a four year time span with huge gaps missing. It's an unpleasant read. It starts on an up note -- Daryk and I were still together, in love, happy -- and then goes through a monumental pile of crap -- the breakup, my introduction to heroin, my friends robbing me, Bob's death (the death of Bob the first, that is), Stoney's death, and Maggie's death.

But honestly, the most depressing part, for me, is the change in my tone when I moved from Chicago to Pittsburgh.

In Chicago I had a life. Places that I frequented, friends, a job that I dug, and apartment I liked ... and then all of a sudden I'm back in Pittsburgh with none of those things.

It got me to thinking about building communities, about building a life. When I first moved to Chicago, most of my friends were my roommate's friends, hand-me-down friends (sure, we both knew catbirdgirl and holzman at Antioch, but they were really much closer with her). But by the time I met Daryk, I was working at Facets, living on my own, and writing mostly about people I knew from work, or the neighborhood ... my friends, people who cared about me.

Now I've been in Pittsburgh for about 9 years, and it really took me until just two years ago to build a community here. Now I can go out and have that same thing I had in Chicago -- chance meetings with friendly acquaintances, waiters who recognize me at the restaurants I frequent -- that night out with Zocks, I seemed to know at least half of the people at BBT; two weekends ago with unixd0rk, we must've run into a good twenty people that I knew.

It's frustrating. It makes me sadder that I left a good life behind than that I fucked up that life by doing drugs. And it reminds me of something that I've only recently learned -- that it doesn't matter where you are.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
lurpy
Mar. 16th, 2005 03:27 pm (UTC)
"And it reminds me of something that I've only recently learned -- that it doesn't matter where you are."

I agree to an extent. I think that general things matter. I don't think I could ever live far from a city for any extended period of time without going insane. Some cities offer things that make you happy that other cities are limited in or might not offer at all. Etc.

As for the way things work socially, I agree that it doesn't matter where you are. I also think that we go through these social circles. We keep recycling our closest friends. For a while, we'll talk to certain friends a lot and put others on the back burner and then it will reverse. I know I'm going off on my own tangent and totally getting away from what you were trying to say but I'm just going with it. I'll shut up now.
(Deleted comment)
hopita
Mar. 16th, 2005 07:15 pm (UTC)
Re: roots: not just a made for tv mini-series
I could go back now as well, though I no longer really have a need to (except to visit Daryk, which may happen again this year at Christmastime -- we'll see).

When I was first back here, my father was so sure that if I ever went back to Chicago, it would be a lock that I'd be a junkie again in no time. He somehow missed the fact that what I missed so much was everything else -- the job, the people, the life I'd built.

Like I told n0thingman today at lunch: reading that notebook was like watching a movie where you knew that the heroine was going to make a terrible choice, and you hoped hoped hoped that she wouldn't ... even though it was my life that I was reading and I knew exactly how it was going to turn out, I still hoped for a different ending.

I wish so much that someone could have explained to me then that moving away would mean giving up all of the good parts of my life -- not just the bad stuff.
suewan
Mar. 16th, 2005 08:38 pm (UTC)
Its kind of bizarre that whole thing, Hope. I think about that, that is life pretty much the same whether ever you go. I'm not sure. I think it's a combination of things such as your mental state, even the time/era, the community where you live, etc. I pretty much live in a conservative town outside of a working class city. I don't really relate to a lot of people, pretty much have a small circle of friends and rarely venture out to my "town". It did hold more of an interest for me when I was younger but since I had my son, my whole perspective on life changed. I often think I'd love to live in a nice community with a nice cafe, a decent bookshop, a decent music stores, some hip/trendy/alternative type places, maybe a coffee house/bar with "events" every so often, etc. Leeds is nearby and that has that feel about it in places but I'm also very much into my own space. I don't necessarily like the idea of neighbours either. I used to love Yellow Springs of all places and believe it or not, I miss that place most of all. And it isn't necessarily because of Antioch, it was just a place that at times, I felt most at peace with myself...well, my final year when I lived off campus...I also totally what you mean about moving away and giving up the good parts as well. That sucks majorly. Definite food for thought, Hope.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 19th, 2005 06:51 am (UTC)
communities
I don't know. I mean, I know that my problems are my problems wherever I go, but... I do think it matters where you are. I was unhappy in Albuquerque, even after I developed a pretty good friend network there. There are some places, like Albuquerque and new York and Los Angeles whose atmospheres I just find oppressive. Now I am living in a midwestern college town with about 35,000 people (including students), and even though the locals are more conservative than I am, and there are not as many cultural amenities as one would find in a bigger city, I have to say that I am quite comfortable in my town, and feel more at ease than I have in years. I especially like going for late-night walks, without worrying about being mugged. I am still working on making friends here, but my level of comfort is still greater than it was in that big, dusty, western city in which I lived for nearly a decade.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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