mangosteen: (allwork)
[personal profile] mangosteen
I live in one place, although most of my co-workers would be hard-pressed to tell you where that is.

So one of the things about flying as much as I used to do, is that it's easy to get into a mode where *place* doesn't exist, per se. That is, the notion of place is purely instrumental; a customer's office must exist somewhere in 3-space, and I suppose this place is as good as any. Airports kind of count as places, but mostly don't; they're meta-places.

There are plenty of books, fiction and non-fiction alike, that document this phenomenon... where the only sense of place you get as a road warrior is the airport you touch down in, because you *have* to know those well enough to get to the next point on the line efficiently. At least for myself, airports are also these interesting beacons of civilization... if one is working normally, so many other parts of the infrastructure of human civilization have to be working normally that things are basically okay. It's comforting.

The service industry knows their most profitable customers. Marriott Hotels are experts in catering to the kind of constantly moving, high-cognitive-load travelers that make up the bulk of non-glamorous business travel. "Don't worry. Your room has the same 2.5 square feet of nightstand space it has in every other Marriott. You don't have to worry where to put things, how to contact the front desk, or even how to read your bill. It's all the same the whole world round." You go from the meta-place of the airport to the non-place of where you landed to the uni-place of yet another Marriott.

Like I said before, normally I don't remember all that much about the places I visit on business. I mean, sure, there are individual restaurants that I'll recommend* and general impressions I get of places**, but it's not like I get involved in the daily comings and goings of the people who live there; it's a high-resolution background image in the video game of consulting.

This all sounds pretty dire, but it's not. It's not like I didn't stop living in Boston during all of this. Friends, connections, comings, goings... all the parts that make up a real functional life. I think one of the reasons that I constantly asserted that I lived only in one place is because I couldn't imagine living in *two* places. Two sets of connections, social calendars, obligations, and all the general freestyle *adulting* that has to happen when one exists in two places.

The closest I ever got to that impossible situation was when work flew me to San Francisco twice in the span of two weeks. for about 5 days each time. Now, the thing about two weeks is that, presuming Godzilla doesn't show up, nothing really changes. The storefronts stay the same, the people on the street are the same, and weekly activities are still happening weekly. The fact that I have plenty of friends there already, helps. It was great to tell people "see you in a couple of weeks" and ask "is this event still happening on Fridays? Cool. I'll be there again." It was incredibly normal. My hours were more normal because I *had* a life outside work, and there was a certain ease with being able to just get into the rhythm of *living* someplace instead of immediately teleporting out.

In effect, I was living in a place where I didn't live, and when I left the second time, it hurt just a little, like I was moving away and leaving friends behind, because I was.

I'm glad I did, though. It was delightfully impossible.

* ...which looks a lot like being an experienced traveler, but somehow misses the mark for me.

** The drive on Texas state route 121 up to Plano from Dallas reminds me nothing more of a giant's offspring having spilled their bucket of Duplo blocks all over the ground: random rectangles, having no relation to any other features, man-made or otherwise.

Date: 2015-06-19 12:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
On a very different scale, this is my impression of a lot of suburbia. There are no "in betweens". You get in your car here, stare at other cars, and get out there.
When I was in Silicon Valley, I asked people, "What is the name for those big wooden things in the middle of the divided roadway (,-122.032171,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s3PioTS9gyN-iiXbQky0p0Q!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1)? And the commonest answer was "huh? What are you talking about? I've never noticed any such thing."

Date: 2015-06-19 03:45 pm (UTC)
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
From: [personal profile] dsrtao
They look like arbors.

Date: 2015-06-19 08:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
But maybe there's a local, idiomatic name, and I've never seen quite that sort of decoration(?) before.
When person after person has passed by ten feet away a thousand times AND NEVER EVEN NOTICED THEM (as tall and wide as a house), questions arise about attention and perception . . .

Date: 2015-06-19 06:03 pm (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
Interesting thoughts, thank you for sharing :)

Date: 2015-06-19 08:21 pm (UTC)
minkrose: (y-sunrise)
From: [personal profile] minkrose
Agreed on restaurant recommendations -- there are favorite restaurants we have in places (Belgo's in London) but that's just as true of, say, where I went to college, and Peppercorn's was just down the block (in Worcester; it now has a brewery attached but sadly did not while I was in college).

What Andy & I find most memorable for a sense of "we live here" is twofold.
We got the idea of getting an apartment for an extended stay from [ profile] coraline's LJ posts, and that also made the Care & Feeding of Minks much easier. So, having a somewhat individualized living space.
But going to the grocery in another country is our favorite thing. When we went to Norway with my parents, they wanted to stay in hotels -- and we did a lot of city hopping (4 cities in a week) so that mostly made sense. But Andy & I did not feel like we had BEEN there until we went grocery shopping.

We have a favorite tea shop in London. After we arrive, my first errand is to go to the tea shop and get us a supply of their house blend black tea for the week. Needing to buy milk and things like that, that is what makes me feel like I fucking LIVE HERE. Also, taking the subway -- my ability to navigate our closest underground station like a daily commuter is a thing that makes me feel like I belong here. I had just come down with a bad cold the last time we arrived in London (tea was still acquired, but otherwise I just wanted to lounge on the couch and watch movies while I was on cold meds). I said to Andy, I feel bad! I'm in LONDON. Aren't I supposed to be out doing stuff? And he said, do you FEEL like you are in London? And I said, Yes, I can see double decker buses going by outside the window. And he said, Does that make you happy?

And it did.

So. those things. This is part of why I don't enjoy business trips -- I'm on one right now, I'm at a professional conference in Denver. But my best friend Marc lives in Denver, so while I stayed in the hotel for the much-busier first couple of days, I am now staying in his guest room, and he will pick me up tonight and we will grill food with his friends and toast his completion of his degree program (his last final happened to be yesterday) and it will feel like Real Life. It helps me deal with being On, with the professional persona I must project while in these atmospheres. The one that makes my coworkers think I am an extrovert, and this comes easy to me. Where I feel like I am wearing a disguise, and the fact that I can get away with wearing stockings that look like normal pantyhose is something I do on purpose to keep me feeling grounded with myself.

Edited Date: 2015-06-19 08:22 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-06-19 08:25 pm (UTC)
minkrose: (smile)
From: [personal profile] minkrose
oh right, and related to the tea house:
We were visiting the Leftons for brunch with Jacob, and I was going through their tea drawer and recognizing all the brands (tazo, celestial seasonings) and suddenly realized that while *I* recognized Tea House tea, that was NOT actually a normal brand to show up in the US. Turns out, it is also [ profile] weegoddess's favored tea shop, which made me feel all the more clever for having discovered it on my own (I got lost, but I could tell from their signage that they were not having any trouble staying in business, which seemed like the mark of a quality local shop to me).


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Elias K. Mangosteen

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