Ah, I do love my colleagues here - my colleagues who were at my farewell gathering yesterday evening, and who furnished me with the perfect bon voyage gift - a most tasteful NJ tee-shirt and magnet-with-thermometer, which will record LA temperatures against a NJ background (today, I ordered a whole lot of bright blue steel bookcases for my new office, with the sense, among other things, that I can stick such carefully crafted magnets on them).
And these goodies (plus a NJ pin) came from a Turnpike rest stop! Better yet! for someone whose favorite Rutgers undergrad course was the one that I taught with a perfect subtitle: "American Road Cultures - counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike". I'll wear the shirt when we drive out of town next Thursday (don't know yet about a photo of that one ...). The Simon and Garfunkel song seemed so very full of the whole mystical promise of America when I first heard heard/knew it in England - I'm sure that it's fuelled a great deal of my restless travelling at some subliminal level. No hitch-hiking from Saginaw - though in the early 80s there was a Greyhound bus ride from Fredericktown, New Brunswick, down to Key West, running scared from a (by the time I got on the bus, ex)- quasi girlfriend who was having a bad mental health time, and hid under the table, because she thought that I was Terry Eagleton. Yes, an odd point on which to be confused. I don't think I told that story in the class ... but a good number of stories got told yesterday evening, including perhaps my favorite ever tale, of the day I looked out of a classroom window during the first orals exam in which I'd been involved, and saw a possum climbing a tree. I'd never seen a possum before, and was frozen in mid-sentence at this weird creature.
It's very hard leaving friends when they're part of one's daily institutional as well as social life: I'll miss them more than I'm currently letting myself think about.