Anticipation of Homesickness

I was at the airport a couple of weeks ago having a drink (you know, like you do), and shared my table with a tattoo artist traveling to Mexico City.  We were at some airport branch of an actually nice restaurant downtown (The Keg?  Is that a place?), and I said “I can’t imagine the food being as good here — something about the airport atmosphere.”  He answered, “Well, if you think that way, you’re probably right,” which is totally a good point.  Self-fulfilling prophecies, etc.

So: I don’t know yet if I’m going to be here or elsewhere in the fall, but if I do leave, I imagine missing it very much.  And since I think that way, I’m probably right.  I feel like at interviews on the east coast I’m sort of an anomaly merely by being from Colorado.  “Oh, wow!  And you came all the way out for this?” (um, yes.)  “Oh, then  you’ll love the hiking in Shenandoah.”  I don’t know.  Just weird assumptions based on where I’m from…  On Friday in DC one of the current students mentioned choosing to live in a specific place (Alexandria maybe?) so she could be in a neighborhood with trees.  And it got me thinking about trees and the west and the openness we take for granted.

I left the interview and wandered north, famished.  I went into the first non-chain restaurant I saw, Founding Farmers.  Turns out it’s owned by a collective of family farmers in South (or maybe North) Dakota.  And then I ventured over to the American Art Museum.  I’ve been cataloging a lot of works from there, so it was really great to see many of them in person.  Even though I catalog dimensions, I never have a good sense of the scale, or how it feels to stand in front of a work.  Much of the paintings are western landscapes, and it made me feel proud and patriotic and a little homesick…

I walked through relatively empty galleries dedicated to American folk artists, and passed into a special exhibition of Timothy O’Sullivan’s survey photography.  I thought about how DC is a much bigger city than Denver, but here I was, nearly alone in a world-class museum I had entered for free, looking at art purchased with and maintained by our tax dollars.  And I was looking at images of the west — of my home state, even.

Interspersed with the O’Sullivan photos were a handful of contemporary photographs of the west.  And one was a photograph by a friend, neighbor, and colleague, Eric Paddock — a man who works at the Denver Art Museum and occasionally teaches down the hall from my office.  The work of someone I’ve run into around town and am always delighted to see, right there, on the walls of the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum.  It was comforting, that little dose of familiarity, and reminded me how interconnected we all are.

In other news, I’m halfway done with interviews!  I’m going to Philadelphia next weekend, staying with my sister for a few days and driving up to Long Island on Friday and again on Monday for interviews.  Then two more the first weekend in March (Portland, Berkeley).  And then waiting.  It’s totally exhausting, but by no means a bad experience…  I just hope it all works out in the end…

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