Wednesday, March 11, 2009

“Whoa, Albany?!?”

This has been the general tone of the various reactions that I’ve gotten to my unexpected relocation last month from Iowa back to New York. Albany is my hometown and I’m happy to be back (despite the fact that “home” has been such a complicated word for me for most of my life). There is somehow simultaneously more and less here than when I left, more blight, yet more beauty than I remembered, and I’ve been busy exploring both in the last couple of weeks.

On Friday night, I saw The Hudson River Panorama followed by a fizzy beverage and some great conversation at The University Club. The art scene isn’t as front-and-center here as it is in other places that I’ve lived around the country, but I’m looking forward to seeing EMPAC and the Live with Less show at The University at Albany Art Museum. On the literary front, I went to see Taylor Mali at St. Joseph Hall and was really impressed, not only by some of his spoken word, but also by his commitment to teaching. (Mali appeared as a visiting writer in The Frequency North Reading Series.) Since the big breakup, I’ve been reading a lot of poetry (by Michelle Tea and Mike Doughty, in particular) and am looking forward to hearing Shane Jones read on April 10th at The Townsend Park Bakery Café.

On the flâneury front, I’ve been pounding a ton of Albanian pavement since my return to the city and still marvel at the big wide waste that is Central Avenue. (Where is the light rail that should replace the lumbering #55 between Albany and Schenectady?) As a staunch perambulator and public-transport freak, however, I’ve been encouraged to encounter like-minded people on the Web who are doing just fine without a car and biking it up in the area. The news about potentially bringing high-speed rail service upstate is pretty awesome, as well.

So, to wrap up one of my lengthiest posts to date, I had to leave home years ago, but am glad to be back in Albany today. (In the interim, I've shed a very thin skin to reveal a much tougher hide.) And lately I’ve been camping out at The Muddy Cup, so stop by and say, “Hello!”, if you see me typing away into The Void.