The Strange Doctor here.
It’s been a while. For good reason. At the end of last semester I was fried. With a capital “F.” So I took most of the summer off. I taught my one week intersession class, wrapped up a revise and resubmit for “Walking in Kierkegaard’s Instant and out of American Christendom,” and an encyclopedia entry.
Then I did something I’ve never done since I started this job. NOTHING. Basically nothing. Hiking. Reading for pleasure. Updating my comic book collection. Lots of beer. I enjoyed myself.
However, I did make a very big decision. Let me tell you the story of how that happened.
When I first got to Johnson City, TN, while I was very happy that to have a job after a long bout of unemployment, I was unsatisfied with the town itself. I would make fun of the fact that it called itself Johnson City, and I would refer to it as Johnson “City.” After all, I grew up in New Jersey. New Brunswick was a fifteen-minute drive away. New York and Philly were relatively nearby. It was diverse. Every possible cultural amenity was nearby: Broadway, concerts, museums, The Mets. There were bars and restaurants of all kinds all over the place. Same thing in Saint Louis. Same thing in Tampa.
When I moved here I treated JC with disdain. There was little to do. You could “do” downtown in one night and it was pretty dead. I called myself “A Jersey boy trapped in Appalachia.”
Changes started to happen and I sort of missed them until Art Herbig and Tony Adams came to visit this summer. Art came down for the Anti-Retreat. We really didn’t do a whole lot of work. We revised one piece. The rest of the time we ate out, drank beer and scotch, smoked cigars, and talked all damn night, every night. We went out every night. Atlantic Ale House. Mid-City Grill. Johnson City Brewing Company. Knights. Tiptons. Main Street Pizza. We walked though Founder’s Park. (Yee-Haw Brewing wasn’t yet open, but was being built.) Then Tony came down and we went out too.
After Art and Tony left, it dawned on me. JC is growing into me. When I first moved here Art and I could have hit all the places in JC in one night. No more. Now I find my self going out two or three nights a week. There are things happening. Founder’s Park has tons of things happening, including Shakespeare in the Park. (Something I loved back in NYC.) There are more bands coming. I find myself driving to get coffee and instead of going to Starbucks, I head downtown to The Willow Tree. I’m still a die hard Atomik Comiks nut, and hanging with my fellow geeks is always a good time.
This summer was the first summer where I did not say to myself, “If I really want to have fun, I need to go to Asheville.”
No, JC is not a big city. It’s not even a small city, but it is growing.
Even better, it’s grown on me.
And me on it.
There’s more to this story, of course. It has to do with the job at ETSU. I had a revelation about that as well.