Thursday, August 16, 2012

Other People's Churches

Once my temp job ends in a couple of weeks, I am allowing myself, after years of struggle and misery, a pleasurable idea: Maybe take a vacation?

I've recently been starting to become accustomed to my new role as "Austinite" (after deciding not to move back to NY/NJ). Austinite with $10,000 currently in the bank, bay-bee! And Austinite who is finally regaining some sanity and wants/needs/deserves (?) a simple thing like a VACATION, just like anyone else might get.

Not to NYC. (Been there, done that. I feel I know the place well enough to not want/need to visit right now.) But, boy, do I really miss that crisp, fall air up north! And reading all of the Sexton stuff lately made me want to pay my respects at her grave in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts -- also where Plath lived the first 4 years of her life. Which got me thinking about all of the literary associations in and near Boston that are important/interesting to me (and to those I admire):

Jamaica Plain = Sexton grave, Plath early childhood home
Winthrop = Plath home from '36-'42, plus where Otto Plath is buried (have to see the site of "Electra on Azalea Path"!)
Wellesley = Plath home from '42 through college (and where she first tried to kill herself--OK, that's grim, but...interesting!)
Northampton = Site of Smith College (where Plath lived in Haven House and Lawrence House), and where Plath/Hughes lived in '57 while she was teaching at Smith

Then there's Boston itself: I do of course want to see things of historical importance to the founding of our country. And I want to see Harvard just because it's Harvard. But then there's especially... Beacon Hill, where Plath/Hughes lived. And The Ritz (now called "The Taj"), where Plath/Sexton/Starbuck drank weekly after attending Lowell's workshop.

And in non-Plath/Sexton news: Salem! I want to feel the atmosphere, pay my respects at the memorial and visit the museum. And a big bonus: Nathaniel Hawthorne's "House of the Seven Gables" house is there! And while I'm in the mood for the American Renaissance (one of my top 4 favorite literary periods), there's also Melville's "Arrowhead" home in Pittsfield, Mass., where he wrote "Moby-Dick" and "Bartleby, the Scrivener," among other classics/favorites of mine.

Whew. I'm kind of tired just thinking about all of that! The initial New England-y idea came about just because I have some extra money to go stay in a bed-n-breakfast for a week during the lovely fall season in a part of the country that I didn't know but got a taste of while living in NY/NJ... And then all of the above kicked in! There's SO much to do and see while I'm up there. Stuff that's meaningful to me psychologically/intellectually, along with the sensual part of just enjoying the crisp fall air and colors.

Is it true that I can be a "normal" person living in a city I call home and simply taking vacations every now and then, just like "normal" people do? What a concept. (Something along the lines of, "Wow. I'm a person who has the music I like around me." Or: "Wow. I'm a person who has a variety of clothes to wear to work.")

I still, though, can't quite even imagine "relaxing" and/or "being happy." Funny that my idea of "relaxation/happiness" is going to visit a bunch of memorials to dead people. But then, even when a high-schooler, my idea of "interesting" was driving with my new license to decrepit local graveyards, and attending other people's churches just to see what was going on.

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