Are you nuts?

On my better days, yes.

 

I mean, you left a perfectly good teaching job to move to London to start a writing career? Seems insane to me.

“Perfectly good teaching job” is a relative term. The school was on the brink of bankruptcy, and I was making all of $9200 a year. I knew I had to make my move then, because in a year there would be no more school. In a way I had it made there: I could teach anything I liked in my courses, Tolstoy and Nabokov stories, novels by Graham Greene, Malcolm Lowry and Virginia Woolf—even a Ulysses seminar for juniors and seniors, which today would get me sent before a Republican morals committee, and I really liked my students. Most of them anyway. You know who you are.

There are no potholes on Memory Lane. No ruts, no broken bottles, no dead squirrels, no speed traps, nothing but green trees and pretty flowers and a road bathed in sunlight. It’s a well-kept place, the past, for even the bad neighborhoods seem in retrospect to have had that little bit of charm which you’d somehow forgotten. School hallways, once the province of bully and beggar alike—“Can I hold a dollar? No? Then I’m gonna kill you”—, lose their grim associations; the headmaster’s office, redolent of pipe tobacco and reeking of punishment, now seems quaint and harmless. The gingerbread cottages of lost loves and broken hearts, the humble bungalows of misplaced affections, the hills and dales of jobs gracefully offered and just as easily taken away—once they’re behind you they lose their weight and value. They become picture postcards, tinted by loving hands, hidden in the back of a drawer, waiting to be rescued by nostalgia.