For the first time in twelve years I am not a resident of the five boroughs. I have moved to New Jersey, and next week I will begin a one year appointment as a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at William Paterson University.
I actually started drafting this post two weeks ago on Friday, August 8 as I was packing up to leave. The night before, on a beautiful, breezy early evening out at the Robert F. Wagner Park in Battery Park City, I went to see the Sun Ra Arkestra perform a free outdoor concert as part of the River & Blues summer concert series. I met up with some friends there, and ran into others in the crowd. The Arkestra put on a great show with some of their core tunes like “Interplanetary Music” and “Love in Outer Space,” and standards like “Fine and Mellow.”
As the dark swept around us and the skyline lit up, my eyes fixed on the cylindrical glass exterior of the 17 State Street building. It was in that building in 2003 that I began working as an office temp for Georgeson Shareholder, just a few months after I had moved to the city. It was while working there that I cooked up the idea to apply to the CUNY Graduate Center, and to do so in the English department instead of in history, the field I was most familiar with at the time.
That night I found myself looking up at that same building eleven years later, after so much had happened in my life including five moves, teaching at four different colleges, leading hundreds of walking tours all over the city, finishing a Ph.D., and a whole lot more personal drama than I care to share on this blog. Now, I’m preparing to take on a new job just across the Hudson. To say that “I felt like I had come full circle” would be the corniest thing I could write about that night, but, well, it’s hard not to come to that conclusion. Ultimately, it felt like a satisfying and fitting end to this chapter of my life.
And now, as I sit here finishing up this post in my new office at William Paterson, the next chapter begins.
Nice, Lavelle! Congrats!
Congratulations on your new position!!!! Sun Ra and the Arkestra…wow, that brings back memories…remember I’m 61, I’ve been there, done that!!!! What will be on your syllabus?????
I’ll be teaching African-American Poetry and Contemporary American Fiction. Still working on reading lists, but I’ll post them here later on.
Thanks Lavelle, I will enjoy reviewing your syllabus. Good luck to you!