Music:sounds of punk music wafting across the alley
Farewell to Urbana
I put together a mass email about the garage sale and figured I might as well include some farewell words to Urbana while I was busy spamming half the town. Here's what I wrote.
I know some of you very well. Some of you I've never met. Some of you I haven't talked to in a long time. But one thing binds you all together (and there are hundreds of you). You are in some way connected in my mind to the third of my life that I spent living in Champaign-Urbana.
I've been spending the last few months sorting through all my old boxes of stuff accumulated during that time so that I can simplify my life and reduce my possessions because I am moving to Australia for a little while and because it is time to shed the anchors of the past and move on to newer unexpected things!
I came to Chambana expecting to rough it in the cornfields for only 3 or 4 years, get my degree and leave. After spending 5 years getting 2 degrees and slowly nudging my political identity from liberal to radical, I found myself so involved with WEFT community radio, the Prairiegreen party, and the UC-IMC that I decided perhaps I'd stay in Urbana for a good long while.
In my time there I loved, learned, battled, campaigned, organized, agitated, befriended, communed, bonded, played, rode, traveled, built, and more. I lived in 6 houses with over 25 different roommates. I had 6 major relationships. I worked for a dozen different political campaigns, I ran for county board, I helped bring folk and punk music to a voluneer operated non-profit venue, I rode in Critical Mass, I rode with the Hell's Chipmunks, I competed with Team Groogroo, I put surface water data on the web, I played games, I crawled around in the guts of supercomputers, I created 6 dimensional mazes, I threw week-long parties, I organized press conferences, I testified at a union witchhunt, I got sued by the democratic party and won, I spent a day in jail in New York City, I got assaulted by cops in Miami, I marched in Philly and at Ft. Bening, I tried to reclaim the streets of Naperville, I DJed weddings, I ate pad thai laced with crack at the Y, I threw out of control parties attended by rowdy drunken strangers, I had a punk band in my basement, I introduced friends to their spouses, I watched the patriot act take a community member away, I learned the word "permaculture", I met some well-schooled designers of a society, I was a radical cheerleader, I played capture the flag at midnight in downtown Champaign, I mediated conflicts, I started some whiskey trains, I demanded change, I hung posters and stuffed envelopes, I replaced wires with waves one rooftop at a time, I cooked thanksgiving dinner for 40, I perfected the thrash-jig and learned all the nuances of breaking the dancing bubble barrier, I played in the woods after dark, I was an errant pedant, I rode my bike to Kankakee, I questioned Eris, I read every novel written by Ursula Le Guin, I worked for a dot.bomb, I lived through mono, I taught kids how to run a PA at a rock concert, I transmitted pirate broadcasts, I hosted radio shows, I took road trips, I broke a few laws and I helped make some others, I herded a committee of over 80 people through 6 years of self-definition, I tried to make room 3 explode, I ran with artists and scientists and laborers and geeks and farmers and teachers, I started a folk music festival in UP Michigan, I joined a union, I made peace, I wrote and spoke and listened and read and created and combined, I saw community shatter and I saw it re-build, I helped a band of anarchists buy property from the federal government, I produced news, I attended city council meetings, I saw and showed great movies, I invented a new kind of drink, I danced naked in the rain, I watched the ebb and flow of transience in a college town, I fell in love, I broke hearts, I ate apple pancakes, I breathed, I fought for what seemed right, I won, I lost, I broke even, I fell down, I got picked back up, I cried, I laughed, I hugged, I dreamed, I grew up. I think I did a few other things too. It was a good ten years.
And every single one of those things was something that I did in community with others. People from Champaign-Urbana taught me and joined with me in every one of those things. I am who I am today and I will be who I am in the future, in large part, due to the people of Champaign-Urbana who were my friends and allies and comrades and fellow workers and co-activists and lovers and roommates and teachers and students and volunteers. Thank you to all of you for the part you played in my growth. Thank you for giving me a vision of community and chosen family. Thank you for showing me how to struggle against overwhelming power with joy in my heart. Thank you for showing me that I can learn to do ANYTHING with the right kind of help. And thank you for the part you continue to play in the world wherever you are. Maybe the last time we talked there was some bad blood or ugly vibes or hurt feelings between us...but that seems completely irrelevant to me now, so distant, and so unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Whether I'm in touch with you every day, or only every few years, or if we never happen to speak again....you are all in my heart and memories and always will be.
I have no idea what the future will bring. After deciding that my future was no longer in Urbana, I've spent the last year clearing the decks and patiently waiting for the next stage of life to come along. In that time I've fallen in love with Meagen and received a job offer to work in Australia for the next 3 years. Meagen and I are eager to see what new adventures await us in Australia, if the unexpected gifts of Australia are even half those of Champaign-Urbana we'll return rich in our souls and deeply changed for the better.
As with every mass email I ever haphazardly throw together, there's HEAPS of people who should be getting this but aren't because I've lost track of your email address or just accidentally skipped over it when building the big list. I've lost a LOT of email addresses! So if you're reading this over someone's shoulder and wondering why you didn't get one, it's probably because you should email me right now and get yourself back on my contact list.
I know I'll be back to visit, but once this house is empty and sold, I will be just that ... a visitor in the town I've called home since August 1995.