I’m at the airport, an hour away from commencing my westward migration. Today: to Austin. Two days later: to Montana for almost two weeks. Somehow, tomorrow is August.
Despite my best tourist efforts in the last two weeks, much remains that I did not see or do in D.C. Eleven years will not pass between this trip and my next, as was the case the last time around. Living in a truly international city with (free!) world-class museums is something I haven’t done since I spent a month in London in college, and it was incredible to be able to see both cutting edge exhibit design and super traditional, but expertly curated, museum displays. As a student with a focus in museum studies, my wheels were turning in the best way. Professionally, I’d call this summer a success.
I think I viewed D.C. through a different lens than London – this summer I was constantly wondering what it would be like to move to the nation’s capital, trying to understand and separate the differences in the experience of a long-term tourist and an actual resident. Could I see myself commuting like this every day? Could I see myself living without a car? Would I want to live in this neighborhood, or that one? A (somewhat) nicer place further out, or back to roommates and roaches in or near the metro center, with the city’s offerings just a walk or short metro ride away?
I must admit, I’m looking so forward to being back in my own place, knowing that wherever something may be, I put it there, being in charge of my own schedule and bills and surrounded by the things I love. I had a hard time deciding whether or not to stay in my current apartment in Austin. It is a good size, gets great light, nice enough neutrals, killer closet, patio, pool…but is not in the most convenient of locations, exactly. If I could transplant it about six or seven miles closer to campus and downtown (and still be able to afford it – ha!), I would be one happy tenant. But that’s not quite how life works, and in the end staying put was the right decision. Hopefully. Sometimes just making a decision, whatever it may be, is better than all of the wondering. And now I know that, for at least another year or so, I’ll live in the same place. I won’t go too crazy, but I want to improve the functionality, look, and comfort of my patio, and try to get into the habit of spending more time reading and eating outside (at least once temps drop back into double digits). In a last minute packing frenzy this morning, my softest sheets went into the garbage, so I’m also on the lookout for a replacement set. I have two IKEA duvets I use, and trying to find linens that don’t clash with one or other is a challenge. I wish I could find gray sheets that were luxurious but not too dark but also not so light they look like dingy white. Speaking of totally different sheets, I have some antique sheet music I bought in Paris, oh, five years ago that I’d like to get framed. Maybe I’ll ask for that for Christmas or something. There’s never a shortage of projects. This is how my mind works – thanks for tagging along. Ha!
And then, as soon as I arrive and cool down my apartment and eat my share of breakfast tacos, it will be time to get on a plane again. If I’m being honest, I’m more than a little resentful that my Montana “vacation” will be spent frantically attempting to finish an independent study project I’ve been working on very independently (read: no professors ever return my increasingly pleading emails). It’s actually a project that interests me, thank goodness, and a dock on a beautiful lake, one of my favorite places in the world, is not the worst place to be cramming, I suppose. Still, I’m reminded again of how your time isn’t really yours in grad school, that the work is never done, and it makes me giddy with anticipation for May.
Whenever there’s a new marking of time – the end of the semester, moving, anticipated vacation which may or may not actually occur – I become hopeful that I’ll have more time to write here. And yet, that time never seems to manifest. I’m considering taking part in the August Break, if only as a means of staying creative and using my camera when I’m knee deep in scholarly journal articles. I guess I’ll decide tomorrow, when I’ve had a little more sleep. And some breakfast tacos.
Do you have any August plans? Tell me that someone is actually vacationing without a suitcase of academic texts so that I may live vicariously through you.