Places I Have Been

by Richard Grossinger on March 14, 2010

States, Provinces, and Countries Where I Have Spent Time (in order of length)

This is a game and not to be taken that seriously.  I was just curious.
The figures, of course, are guesses.

1. California: 32.1 years.  I didn’t cross over the California state line until 1962 when I had already logged the better part of 18 years in New York. But, with a week in San Francisco and Los Angeles in ’62, 2 months in Berkeley in 1975, 8 months there in 1976, and moving to Berkeley in the summer of 1977, California caught up with and passed New York in the mid nineties. I am deducting 44 months from California for the time spent in Maine since we began splitting the year between the two places in 2001.  I am deducting another year for various out-of-state travels.  Yet California is a big state, two or three states’ worth on the corresponding East Coast and, once I got there, I didn’t cross the State line that often. We finally moved from California for Maine in June, 2014 but have returned for months at a time since.

2. New York: 18.5 years. This is the time from my birth in November of 1944 till leaving for college in September of 1962.  Trips outside of New York State during that era have been more than made up for by trips back there, some of them for as long as a month, to visit family and friends and do business in Manhattan. For a while our family used Grossinger’s Hotel as a base while it still existed through the mid-eighties.  These days I try to spend a week or so a year in New York City via a house exchange online, so it is gaining relative to all except California and Maine these days. In 2012 I spent 2 months there as part of a house exchange in September and then by renting a loft on 27th between 10th and 11th for November and half of December. I have been there for roughly a week at a time three times a year since.

Thus, almost 75% of my life has been spent in the former and present most populous U.S. states.

3. Maine: 9 years.  Once we bought a  second house on Mount Desert Island in 2000, we began going to Maine three-plus months a year (starting in 2001), so Maine rose from sixth to third place.  We stayed there 5 months in 2012 and 2013. We moved back there in 2014. Subtracting trips out of Maine during that time, it still more than doubles our initial sojourn in Maine from September, 1969, through July 1972 (anthropology fieldwork plus teaching at PoGO, the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham).  Trips back from 1973 through 1975 to finish my fieldwork, a trip in 1977 to give a reading at College of the Atlantic, and visits from 1996 through 2000 more or less round it off.

4. Massachusetts: 3.9 years.  The base figure represents college at Amherst from 1962-1966 but subtracting the summer months and vacations.  Since then I have made more trips to Massachusetts than any other state outside the places I have lived: Cape Cod, Gloucester, Amherst, Northampton, Boston, Cambridge, Newburyport, Westport, Lenox, Rowe, Great Barrington, the reasons ranging from college reunions to meetings with authors to visits to writers and friends.  Sometime in the mid-eighties my wife and I house-sat for two weeks for the publishers of New Age Magazine in a Boston suburb.

5. Vermont: 3.4 years.  Technically we lived there almost five years from 1972 to 1977, but we spent the better part of a full year in California and most of another year traveling to New York and Massachusetts (mostly) and doing a reading tour through the Midwest and teaching at month at Kent State (1973).  Goddard College ran on a trimester system, and we chose to teach the summer trimesters and leave town for the winters, plus I took a formal leave of absence in 1976.  I also traveled to do some readings on my own in the mid seventies.  We have been back to Vermont for about another month and a half since leaving there in 1977, staying mostly with Bob Simmons and Kathy Warner, our friends and authors of crystal fame, who live by the waterfall in Marshfield.  We have also stayed with the Biggams on Bliss Road in East Montpelier, a couple whom we met in the Lamaze class before our daughter’s birth in 1974.  We have also hung out around the magical city of Burlington for a cumulative total of a few days.

6. Michigan: 3.3 years.  We lived in Ann Arbor from the summer of 1966 into the summer of 1969, rarely leaving the state.  I returned for chunks of time between then and 1975 to finish my thesis.  We also used Ann Arbor as a stopping-off place on our 7 drives between coasts during 1975-1980. We spent four days there on our cross-country drive in 2014. This is the only place I ever lived that was not on either coast.

These six states, the only places in which I have lived, make up about 97% of my life.  The rest of the list is guesswork about periods visiting and passing through places.  The precision of decimal points is mostly fake.

7. Connecticut: 5.5 months.  Summer camp in Kent in 1961 took almost two months and, years before that when I was about five, my natal family rented a summer house in Westport.  I also visited my brother in Westport numerous times from the mid-nineties until his suicide in 2005.  There have been other trips over the years to see authors and friends, starting with just missing Charles Olson in Storrs in 1969 and visiting James Hillman and Norman Macht in Thompson during the late eighties.  We have also stayed at least day or two each year since we created a backup warehouse in 2005 in East Windsor with its proprietor Ed Mondazzi.  We stayed more like two weeks in 2011, hanging out between and after college reunions.

8.  Colorado: 4.7 months.  This constitutes mainly the summer of 1965 renting a cabin in Aspen with Lindy, plus part of the summer of 1967 together in Lindy’s old family cabin in Central City after doing fieldwork in Arizona.  There were many additional visits in the range of four or five days each while Lindy’s family still lived in Denver into the late eighties.  We had a gap of fifteen years before returning in April 2012 for readings, book signings, and a visit to Lindy’s hometown corresponding to the fiftieth year since high-school graduation.

9. Florida: 3 months.  I was taken there for periods of unknown length as an infant, and I spent three more weeks during two craniosacral-therapy intensives at the Upledger Institute in Palm Beach Gardens in the nineties and aughts.  Plus, we visited Lindy’s sister and our author former Met pitcher Terry Leach in St. Petersburg for a week in 2000.   I also went to baseball spring training in 1963 while in college.

10. Texas: 1.5 months.  My mother left my stepfather for three weeks when I was in first grade and went to see her mother, then in Texas.  I was on a teen tour that visited Six Flags in 1962.2. We stayed in El Paso, Austin, and Houston on our 2014 drive east.

11. Arizona: 1.3 months.  During the summer of 1967 while an anthropology graduate student, I did fieldwork with the Hopi in Old Oraibi and Hotevilla and, at the same time, I taped interviews and filled out forms in Snowflake and Prescott for the Dictionary of American Regional English.  My teen tour went to the Grand Canyon in 1962.  In March 2011 Lindy and I drove from the Bay Area to Scottsdale and Sedona for five days. In 2014 we stayed in Scottsdale and Patagonia for almost a week on our drive east.

12. Pennsylvania: 1.2 months.  I crashed at summer camp in 1952 at the age of 7 (Swago) and got sent home with whooping cough.  Otherwise, I visited Swarthmore as a prospective student (1961), was interviewed for a job there (1978), stayed with my uncle Lionel in Pittsburgh for a week after graduating from high school (1962), and researched an article across the state line for The Sullivan County Democrat (1964).

13. Ohio: 1.1 months.  This was mainly teaching at Kent State for the better part of a month in 1973 plus visits to Kent (to read with Robert Duncan and Allen Ginsberg in 1972) and Yellow Springs (to visit our friend Mitchell Miller at Antioch)—a few days each.  Add in a bit of 1960s Toledo and the Ohio Turnpike, a college stop at my room-mate’s in Hudson in 1961.

14. Hawai’i: 4 weeks. In July 2010 magical trip to the fiftieth state, the south and north shores of Kaua’i. I agree, this isn’t America; see the travel journal on this website.  We returned in February 2012: a week back at Noniland on the North Shore of Kaua’i, three days on the North Shore of Oahu for Bill Mistele’s undines gathering, and four days with Bruce and Carolyn Frantzis of Energy Arts in Kihei, Mau’i.

15. England: 3.4 weeks.  Lindy and I spent traveled in various parts of the country in 1998 as described in the travel journal on this website.

16. Washington: 3-3.5 weeks.  Lindy’s sister and niece and nephew moved to the Tacoma/Gig Harbor area during the early nineties, and moved her mother to a retirement home sooner after.  Her family reunions have been there ever since.  Add my grade-school friend Philip now in Seattle, and the trips have had an extra day or two.

17. Quebec: 3.2 weeks.  We stayed overnight several times in Montreal while living in Vermont and then visited Quebec City and Montreal for almost a week on our exit from Maine in 2007. We stayed a week in Prevost and Montreal on our drive east in 2014.

18. Utah: 3 weeks. Lindy’s sister Polly has lived there for decades.  Plus we saw our daughter’s movie premieres (Me and You and Everyone We Know and The Future) at the Sundance Film Festival (2005 and 2011).  I hung out with friends (Myron and Malon Richardson and Gino Sky) in 2012.  I met another great Utahan, electrician Darren Hunt, on the plane from LA.

19. Oregon: 1.7 weeks. We visited our Vermont friends, the Bagwells, there during the seventies and eighties and then added our daughter who lived there in the nineties and aughts—a few days each time.

20. New Jersey: 1.6 weeks. My stepfather had several accounts there for which he did advertising, and we drove through New Jersey regularly en route to Grossinger’s and the Catskills, probably over a hundred times, each one less around a half hour.  A New Jersey Nets game too.

21. Italy: 1.5 weeks. This was the biggest chunk of our 2006 trip to Europe as detailed in my travel journals on this website.

22. Germany: 1.5 weeks. This was a key part of both our 1992 and 2006 trips to Europe detailed in the travel journals on this website. The 2006 visit was to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair.  Otherwise it was Berlin and Munich.

23. Mexico: 1.3 weeks. The travel journal for this 2003 trip is on this website: Cuernevaca, Oaxaca, Mexico City, etc.

24. Ontario: 1.2 weeks. Toronto and Toronto Island were stopping points during trips between Vermont and Ann Arbor during the seventies. We hung out with the writers at Coach House Press and did readings at an art gallery. We stayed two days on our drive east in 2o14.

25. Illinois: 1.2 weeks. A combination of trying to set up fieldwork through Northwestern in 1968 and being a reader at the Chicago Poetry Festival in 1975.

26. Slovenia: 1 week. This is detailed in my 2006 travel journal.

27. Iceland: 6 days. Ibid.

28. Idaho: 6 days. This comprises two trips to Paul Pitchford’s healing camps in Potlatch outside Moscow in the early 1980s.

29. New Hampshire: 6 days.  One of my stepfather’s accounts in childhood plus a visit to Russell Banks in the early seventies, a reading in Franconia during the  mid-seventies, and travel through NH between Maine and Vermont and Vermont and Boston plus, regularly, the little bit of Portsmouth coastline between Boston and Maine these days. 2 2/3rds days during the summer of 2012 as part of a house exchange in Lee.  Lots of rain, deep August mood, and got to make five meals out of the mature vegetable garden–14 free range chickens too.

Under 6 days each in rough order of descending length of time:

Wisconsin.  A reading in Madison in 1967 and a stint on a literary grants committee (CCLM) in Milwaukee in 1974.

Nevada.  Our station wagon broke down in the Sierras and was towed to Reno for three days of repairs during our 1976 drive back to Vermont.  A publishing convention in Las Vegas during the eighties.  I know the state’s stark mountainous geography best from the air.

Oklahoma. Three days on our 2014 drive east, in Okmulgee, Avant, and Tulsa (see “Driving the Labyrinth).

British Columbia.  Part of my teen tour in 1962 passed through Vancouver and then Lindy and I paid a brief visit to Victoria and Vancouver in 1999.

Czech Republic.  See my 1992 travel journal.

Holland.  Ibid.

Nova Scotia.  A 2008 trip to Kingsburg for a few days from Maine.  A brief visit to Halifax en route.

New Brunswick.  Some fieldwork in 1970 and driving through back and forth to Nova Scotia in 2008.  We made one night stays in Fredericton (1970) and St. Andrews (2008).

Indiana.  Bloomington was our alternative to Ann Arbor for graduate school, and we visited Indiana University twice. We stopped in Terre Haute on our 2014 drive east.

Iowa.  An overnight stopping-off place on our cross-country travels at Alan and Cinda Kornblum’s Coffee House Press.

District of Columbia.  My family visited there in the late fifties, and Lindy and I stopped for a day to visit authors in the mid 1980s.

Alaska. A 1976 Tlingit-Eskimo-Euro writers’ gathering was set up in Anchorage by Andy Hope.  I went with Bob Callahan, Ed Dorn, and the Jim Pepper Quartet

Kansas.  A reading in Lawrence during the early seventies.

West Virginia.  Lindy and I read in Morgantown and Keyser in 1973.

Wyoming.  Part of our cross-country travels in the seventies and eighties; we stayed overnight once in Laramie and visited the rocks with local artist V. H. Flach.

Alberta.  A stop on my 1962 teen tour at Bampf.

Rhode Island.  A visit to Block Island in the seventies; touring John Todd’s water-purification facility on the Providence waterfront in the nineties; and flying into the airport for travels to Maine in the aughts.

Louisiana.  New Orleans was a stop on my teen tour in 1962.

Nebraska.  The only place on this list where I never stayed overnight, but it takes so much time to drive across the damn state I feel as though I have spent at least a day here.  Plus that bad dinner in McCook described in New Moon.

All other places in my life were drive-throughs or fly-overs of minutes or hours.  In sum, I have not been all that adventurous.

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