So I'm sitting in Duke's Bryan Student Center watching the afternoon NCAA games and killing time online. I gave my talk this afternoon. I thought it went well. It was a small group so I went the informal route, making it more of a seminar than a lecture. Most of the Duke historians who would have found the talk relevant are on their way to the OAH meeting in Houston this weekend, though one prominent historian with an interest in US-South Africa connections was there and we were able to talk about future collaborations and the like.
Before the talk I finished up my research for the trip. What I thought might take an hour took nearly three, and I am heading home with easily four reams worth of photocopies. The work just starts once the research is accumulated, of course, and there will be lots of organizing and filing and in the process thinking over the next few weeks and months as I try to turn thousands of documents into that alchemist's blend of art and science that is good historical writing.
I don't leave until tomorrow, but I do have to be up early. I downshifted from the incredible Washington Duke Inn, where I spent the last few nights, to a decidedly more downscale place where I plan only to lay my head before my early flight. I don't really want to leave campus, because, well, I won't be at a place like Duke again any time soon and once I'm gone I'm gone. It's a silly mindset that ties into a lot of the feelings I expressed in yesterday's post, I suppose, but i want to be here, to hold on to this quasi-attachment, for as long as possible.
It's a gorgeous day here, the sort of spring day that makes me miss the Carolinas (I lived in Charlotte from 1994 to 1996). Campus is bustling, people are beginning to talk about weekend plans, which in many cases means tonight's plans, and of course basketball seems to be on everyone's mind. By this time tomorrow I'll be back to Odessa, to home and hearth, which I am looking forward to, and to the politics of higher education in Texas, which I am not.