This year, I will have lived nearly half my life in Texas, the other half, Chicago. It makes for an interesting response to the age-old question: where are you from? When I was living in Chicago, my response was Dallas. And now that I live in Austin, I always defer to Chicago. It’s a question that really doesn’t have a tidy answer, even though that’s what we expect from it.
When I first moved here the culture shock was more pronounced than in any country I’ve ever visited, no matter how foreign their culture may be from our own. Lack of public transit was one prominent factor—something I’d never realized I depended on so much until I had to do without. But there was also a difference in values, in the way we spend our free time and even in the way people here approach work and responsibility.
I expected Austin to feel like home, but it never did—still doesn’t. And it wasn’t until I realized that it would never feel like home that I began to feel comfortable. Austin is a new city, and like any other major metropolitan area, deeply flawed and complicated in so many ways, but blossoming nonetheless. And that, at the very least, is interesting. The writer in me wants to see how it all plays out.
But cities and people aren’t that different from one another. We are the product of place, of culture, of history, of choices that came long before but yet still affect us in a profound way. We are ever changing, and the best we can do is try to understand the sum of our parts. And I think July’s E-Zine is an attempt to do just that: discover how our geography, history, and family shape the way we view ourselves.
Jessi Lee Narducci’s poem attempts to directly answer the question of where are you from? Heather Sager’s sparse story is a window into a decision that undoubtedly affects those involved for the rest of their lives. Poetry by Michael Salcman is rooted in history yet still deeply personal, and Dawn Wilson’s haunting story explores just how detrimental other people can be to our idea of self. And finally, Michelle Chen’s “Casual Walk” demands we take notice of all the things that make us what we are today.
Austin is a place where the glass and steel of the city collides with the beauty of the Texas Hill Country, and photographer Ashley Leann Ojeda captures it in all its diversity.
When I think of summer, I think of travel. For me, traveling has always been an experiment in lifestyle design—a way to live completely in the moment, breathe in every new fragrance, and consider every new sound. So rarely do we have to time to sit and really take notice of the world and all its vibrant colors. On the road we meet more new faces than we could ever hope in our day-to-day grind. Yesterday is hardly as important as today, and tomorrow is merely an afterthought to the now.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that travel is all roses and sunshine. There are always hiccups, even in the most carefully laid plans. We mix up travel dates and realize we have nowhere to sleep for a night, wander down the wrong street at the wrong time of night, only to be put back on a tram by a considerate Czech police officer, and spend entire afternoons searching Paris for an alarm clock to ensure we don’t miss the train to our next destination. Even buying something so simple as toothpaste can turn into an all day excursion.
This month, Curbside’s e-zine travels too. Frankie Concepcion’s poems take us to Manila, J.H. Martin’s to Myanmar. L.E. Malone’s fiction resides in a nondescript city that I like to imagine as New York City; Joseph Scapellato brings us home to Chicago. Then we continue onto Denver and other small mountain towns in Mitchell Grabois’ poetry. And Chrystal Berche’s Twilight Dancer series reminds us that, no matter how vivid the colors of our new locale, no matter how enthralling our own travel experiences may be, it’s the people nestled in the local pubs and the stories they share with us that really make travel worth while.
So whether or not you’re be traveling this summer, take a few moments to live vicariously through our contributor’s words. Take them with you on your journey to whatever corner of the globe you call home, or might find yourself in the future.
Hands down, my favorite part of being an editor here at Curbside (aside from the instant gratification I get from sending out acceptance letters) is being able to work with and publish a diverse group of writers and artists each month; people who come from all different walks of life, who may be at different stages in their careers, but nonetheless share an unwavering commitment in presenting the world as truthfully and as honestly as they can.