Both this week and last, I’ve been zipping back and forth between Newton and Keene, feeling more geographically bipolar than usual. During the school-year, my dual residence follows a predictable pattern, with only one complete “commute” between the two states I call home. On a typical Monday afternoon during the school year, I drive from Massachusetts to New Hampshire so I can teach my Tuesday morning classes in Keene, and on a typical Thursday evening, after the last of my face-to-face classes, I drive from New Hampshire to Massachusetts to enjoy my weekend (and teach my online classes) in Newton.
During the school year, this dual-residence works. I love being with J and near Boston on the weekends, and I love walking to campus from my hermit-like apartment during the week. The 90-minute drive between Newton and Keene isn’t unbearable if you do it only twice a week; a lot of folks accumulate more weekly miles by driving back and forth from work every day. J sees more of me during my four days in Newton than some folks see spouses who travel frequently for business, and during the week, J himself is typically occupied with work and other responsibilities. When I arrive in Newton on Thursday night during the school year, I have a clear sense of having left my work “at the office” even though the realities of email and my ever-present paper-pile make this distinction more symbolic than real. Still, during the school year, it feels great to leave town for the weekend even when “leaving town” really means “going to my other home.”
This week and last, though, I’ve been doing several mini-commutes between Newton and Keene. Last week, I had several day-long faculty workshops and a routine doctor’s appointment in Keene; this week, I have several more faculty workshops, another medical appointment, and a date to get my car serviced. Rather than staying in Keene through the week and returning to Newton for the weekend, I’ve been spending my nights in Newton and doing a daily commute…and feeling like I’m neither here nor there. How exactly do you figure out where you are if you take your morning walk in one state and your afternoon in another?
Tomorrow night, I’ll stay overnight in Keene after finishing the day’s errands, and then I’ll drive back to Newton on Thursday afternoon, after finishing that day’s appointments. I’m looking forward to going not much of anywhere this weekend, spending all of next week in Newton, and staying there for most of the summer…at least until the second summer session at Keene State begins, at which point I’ll commute between two states as I teach the literature of the open road. They say a rolling stone gathers no moss, and although I’m not well-traveled, this week I feel particularly moss-less. Instead of enjoying the best of both worlds, after this week I’m looking forward to a spell of enjoying the leisure of living in only one.