This morning I woke up at 8 and started my day as I would have before. I enjoy the routine: coffee, a little food, a shit, some writing or reading, etc. In the afternoon Lewis and I did a few errands, then he took me to the Vanderbilt library. After showing me how to use the printers, I was left alone to my own devices.
I set out to start exploring the city and think about job prospects. First I went to a coffee shop where I ran into the same guys from the night before, only the unlikely girlfriend wasn’t there. We exchanged pleasantries. I wondered what they thought of me, and if it showed that I was older and not from around there. I made a remark or two that had them laughing. I hoped they held me in high esteem. Vanity, in short.
Another observation: at the same coffee shop, I saw another incongruous couple, comprised of an attractive woman, and a much less attractive man.
After leaving the coffee shop I was alone, with myself and my thoughts. A great pair. I rode my bicycle down 21st Ave, one of Nashville’s main streets, apparently. I had little sense of direction, and tried my best not to worry where I was going, but just to explore. But it’s hard not to worry about where you’re going, especially when you can just look it up on a smart phone. And anyway, I’m not one for wandering aimlessly, and I prefer there to be a destination, or some goal in mind. It seems to me that since one’s intentions are nearly always subverted or interrupted, intending to have no intentions is servers little purpose.
I knew, vaguely, that I was approaching downtown, or what is known as downtown; calling it that is misleading, because in relation to where I’d started, it was up, not down.
When I began to see gaudy lights and even hear country music, I realized I was in the tourist area. I got off my bike and walked; it was getting too dark to ride and I wanted to take things in slowly.
In this calmer state, off my bike, ambling along, I began to ruminate extensively over questions concerning my departure from New York and my move to Nashville. As often happens, the same thoughts of varying profundity and insight occurred to me over and over again, with subtle variation. Here are some of them, in question form:
1. What makes a city a “city” as far as my understanding of the word is concerned? What is my understanding?
2. What does it mean for a modern person to live in a city? (Am I a modern person?)
3. What does it mean to live anywhere that isn’t where one grew up?
4. How does a modern person, as opposed to a non-modern person, orient himself in the space of a city?
5. What constitutes an authentic “urban” experience? Have I ever had one?
6. Am I cosmopolitan?
7. What activities should I engage in to feel the most urban/cosmopolitan?
8. How does one internalize a city? Besides the city of my birth, have I internalized any places?
9. How does a city or a town structure ones experience of the outside world?
10. Does it matter anymore, where one lives?
11. What sort of aspect, if any, will be bestowed upon me if I remain in Nashville for six months? A year? Two years? etc.
12. When will Nashville begin to seem small?
My walk home was long and I passed through the business district, which was desolate and empty. After that, I crossed over at least two bridges that overlooked non-descript, industrial areas. It was not picturesque. Also of note: I passed by the Hustler store, but did no more than look curiously in the window.
Back at home the solitary nature of my situation really hit me. Lewis was at work and there was nothing to do but spend more time with myself. The apartment has a sombre feeling about it. In the kitchen and in Lewis’s room there are photos of his late friend Bradford. It is eerie looking at these photos of a guy I saw less than two years ago; I can recall us smoking a cigarette together and talking about books.
A part of me relished these heavy feelings (one needs heavier feelings now and then) – I was restored to myself.