Tennessee’s a brother to my sister Carolina where they’re gonna bury me

27 years of nothing but failures and promises that I couldn’t keep.
Oh lord, I wasn’t ready to go – I’m never ready to go
Let it ride.” ~ Ryan Adams

I’ve been here all of 4 days now, and the parallels to Philadelphia are abundant.  Not that Nashville and Philly are at all alike.  For one, I’ve already seen more cowboy hats in a half week than I saw all year in the City of Brotherly Love (Brokeback Mountain, be damned).

It’s the personal parallels I’m referring to.  I’ve plopped myself down in the heart of a strange land with no connections and no plan.  For the first time in over 3 years, I am utterly alone.  This is not to say that I am secluded.  My landlady has been very helpful in helping me wrangle up some furniture and I’ve met two of my three neighbors (all students).  Plus, this being a Southern city, strangers on the street do tend to nod and say ‘hello.’

But I am alone.  Here I put my Treatise to the test.  The sudden immersion into solitude after so long being intricately involved with other people is very much a shock to the system, like cold water in the early morning.  I find myself flinching against it, startled and desperately crying out for community.  Instead, all I have is myself.

I do not mean to diminish the cherished friendship and love of those I know around the country.  I imagine my spiritual counterpart from a former century would be a monastic man, cut off from his past, unable to communicate with those he once knew.  I live in the connected millennium, though, and so while many people find it fashionable to bemoan Facebook and our texting generation, I relish the way in which it allows me to remain in contact with those people who I no longer share a zip code with.

All the same, there is communication and then there is companionship.  As I was in Philadelphia, I am on my own and must create my community out of thin air.  In Philly, that involved joining an online community at The Writers Cafe, a website for writers that amazingly spawned international friendships that led to so-called Writer Conventions (read: boozed-fueled poetry readings).  Most of the friends I made on that site no longer frequent it (including myself), but there is no denying that the site changed the course of a few lives, including my own.  My roommate in SoCal was a Writers Cafe member.

I don’t foresee that sort of thing happening again, here.  For one, back then I didn’t have an outlet for my writing, so the Cafe was a perfect spot for me.  Now I have this blog.  (It feels dirty just typing that.)

My path going forward is unclear.

I haven’t had a drink of real liquor since I left Chicago (beer doesn’t count), so maybe this is just me detoxing, but I must admit that there is a kind of petrifying veil over my future.  For the first time since my arrival in Philly, there is no set direction in any aspect of my life.  It doesn’t help that my time cushion for finding work is much shorter than it has been in past moves.  (This would be a good time for the Democrats to start creating jobs, hint hint.)

These are my fears, and my reasons for being, all tied up together.  I’ve made a risky bet on my future and I stand to lose everything.

But like Ryan says, sometimes you just gotta let it ride.

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