But what's funny is that if you'd asked me in April if I'd want a series of Utah photos on my screen whenever I paused in my work, I'd have said a definite no. I was so tired of Utah at that point; even when I was hiking there, I didn't really think I'd be missing it when I left.
I can't say I actually miss it, to be honest. I miss some of my friends there, and I miss the energy of my department. It's sometimes hard, working in isolation here. Oh, Kev is here, but he's not immersed in English lit. I've started going through the books on my exam list more seriously; the current goal is to try to finish the novels (all 80 of them) by the end of the year, so that I'm in a good position to dive into the criticism in January. And possibly re-read some novels before the actual exam in late April. Yesterday I read Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy -- today I'm working on Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being. Good books, and I'm enjoying them, but I wish Paul or Jenn were around to talk about all this with. To kvetch to. It'd be nice to have their company, to invite them to dinner. My little sister and her boyfriend will be staying with us this weekend; Friday night I'm making dinner for them, for Roshani and Tom and Zoe, for Stephanie and her husband Ron. I'm hoping that Stephanie may turn into a friend I can discuss English lit. stuff with. Fingers crossed.
So I'm missing that interaction, but I'm not missing Utah. I like the moist air here, even when it makes my hair frizzy. I like the cosmopolitan city. I like all the dark-skinned people walking around my neighborhood. I like not having any idea what the politics are of the people I meet. (Not that everyone in Utah is uniform in their politics -- but if you guess "conservative", you'll be right a whole lot more often than you'll be wrong, especially once you get outside the confines of the university). I like not being the weirdest person around. (I sort of like being weird, but weirdest is hard.) If I could pick up my department and move it to Illinois, I'd do it in a heartbeat, and cheerfully never enter the state of Utah again.
But with all that said...there are parts of southern Utah that are sheerly gorgeous. And I find that having them sliding across my screen doesn't make me unhappy -- surprisingly, they're rather peaceful. I think it'll be a long time before I really understand what being in Utah did for me, for my writing. But there was some goodness in there. There was more than a little beauty, and some moments of peace.