I moved to Massachusetts in late October 2003, and began The Hurting in January of 2004. A week and a half ago I moved out of Massachusetts and back home to California. It had been, all told, an exile of exactly eleven years: I moved away from the west coast in June of 2000 (to Oklahoma, where I lived for three years), and marked my official return in July of 2011.
Moving is terrible. I've certainly done it a few times over the years: I lived in five different houses in Massachusetts, which adds up to a lot of unpleasant lifting and carrying, to say nothing of dismantling and reconstructing cheap furniture. But hopefully this will be the last move for the considerable future.
In the beginning and for a few years thereafter this blog had a decidedly more personal bent - which was not so much an intentional focus as an unavoidable consequence of the unpleasant circumstances surrounding my life at the time. I was living in the middle of what could only in hindsight be described as a slow-motion nervous breakdown, unemployed, in a shack in the middle of the woods with a crumbling marriage. (Hindsight being 20/20, the writing had been on the wall regarding the marriage for a long time, but it took a while before either of us realized that fact.) The reason this blog was titled The Hurting wasn't just tongue-in-cheek - there was a thick layer of real bleakness caked underneath the orange Blogspot template.
If you have had a blog for any amount of time, you should be intimately familiar with the unpleasant sensation of rereading your earliest posts. For me, however, the sensation is doubly unpleasant on account of the fact that my circumstances have changed to such a significant degree that I can barely recognize the person who wrote the first few years of this blog. It's been a long time since we were so poor I had to beg readers for money to buy groceries (that grocery money actually appeared is one of the great miracles of my life). It's been a long time since the "we" in question was a going concern. Now the "we" in question is entirely different, and the person with whom I moved to California represents a definite and marked improvement over the one with whom I moved to Massachusetts. I've gone from working the night shift at a children's mental hospital to working in academia. A working scholar and a teacher, of all things. Jesus H. Christ!
After having lived there for almost eight years, I can say with some degree of confidence that New England sucks. I'm sure it works fine for Andrew Weiss and Kevin Church, but I'm simply ecstatic to once again be in the land of Mike Sterling and David Brothers. It's not the winters, as most people would maintain - I grew up in the cold parts of California, after all, so I'm hardly a stranger to the snow. But there's something indefinably uncomfortable about the region, a coldness that goes deeper than the weather if you get my drift. If you weren't born there, it's hard to really make yourself fit - which is in itself an odd thing to say about a region filled to the brim with immigrants - but there you have it. Whenever people found out that I had come from California, they're first question was always "what the hell are you doing in Massachusetts?" In all the years I lived there I never found a good answer, and I still don't have one. Thankfully, it's not a problem anymore. The whole place may be two minutes away from falling down around my shoulders at any moment, but I'm back in California, and be it ever so humble there's no place like home. (And, not for nothing, it's worth pointing out that even with a crumbling infrastructure, the roads out here are still better than the roads in good ol' Taxachusetts - and no tolls to ride the damn freeway, either.)
I'm not a superstitious person - or more precisely, I'm one of those people who always likes to say he's not superstitious, but is in fact just as superstitious as the next person. It is therefore submitted without comment that upon returning to California the very first song heard on the radio in the rental car on the way from the airport to town was "Once In A Lifetime" by the Talking Heads. Don't ask me how, but David Byrne knows these things.
Now might be the time you could reasonably expect me to say something along the lines that, given the change in circumstances over these past eight years, The Hurting has run its course and it's time to put the blog to bed. Well, fuck that shit, you should know me better by now. We're gonna rock it till the wheels fall off. Stay tuned for more half-assed content delivered on a completely inscrutable timetable from now until the end of the world.