The "Biggest Little Goodbye" and what's next

Saying goodbye to Reno; introducing "The Cyprus Files"

“These calls had been one of the features of her stay in Reno, that six-week fever dream in which she constantly listened to Mr. Roosevelt, and couldn’t get it through her head that she couldn’t vote for him this year, as she would be a resident of Nevada, not of California.”

–James M. Cain, Mildred Pierce

“To say goodbye is to die a little,” Raymond Chandler wrote in his great detective novel, The Long Goodbye. I’ve usually found that saying to be true. Even if we find our experience of a place challenging at times, departure tends to invite disorientation, as we resume life’s journey within a fresh context.

It’s transition time over here at The Usonian. My two-months-long hiatus from newsletter writing was precipitated by my move-out from Reno, Nevada, in preparation for my next effort: a Fulbright year in Nicosia, Cyprus as I explore the urban history of that divided island.

I’m not done writing about Nevada, and I still have so many Usonian stories to share with you in 2021. In this post, I’ll reflect a little on my time in Reno and offer a glimpse of what’s to come, including a new sub-blog about Cyprus which will live within this newsletter.

The biggest little goodbye

“The biggest little city in the world,” as Reno’s once-and-future tagline proclaims, first achieved its heights in the early 20th century, when a 6-week “Reno divorce” drove the local economy by offering a relatively simple way to cut ties with an errant marriage.

Though the casino resort town was the equivalent of Las Vegas before Vegas, the majority of Reno’s casinos have not kept pace with the glitzier resorts found in the more famous burgeoning Nevada metropolis to its south. Meanwhile, the proliferation of gambling across the United States has weakened Reno’s gaming allure.

Today, Reno is amidst a period of reinvention as the city reimagines itself as both a tech corridor and gateway to nearby Lake Tahoe. Companies such as Tesla, Apple, Google, and Panasonic operate facilities in the region, luring tech workers from Silicon Valley with the promise of a less-congested and more-outdoorsy lifestyle. Reno’s charm as a quirky Western city is palpable on buzzy South Virginia Street or in bars and restaurants across the city.

But summer fires and ash remind residents and visitors alike that Northern Nevada remains part of the American West, and the difficulties of climate change will continue to threaten inhabitants of this region, particularly in regards to wildfires and droughts.

I’m grateful for my three years in Reno, while I earned my MFA at the University of Nevada, Reno. I learned to cross country ski and became a more knowledgeable cyclist. I made friends as I explored some less-trod corners of Tahoe and remote areas of Nevada. I was able to visit my friends and family in California and re-connect with some of the places where I spent my earliest years. And with the help of my advisors and classmates, I became a much stronger writer.

But time came to say goodbye. And hello.

Introducing: “The Cyprus Files”

After I moved out of Reno, I began laying the groundwork for my next project: a Fulbright year in the Republic of Cyprus, an island nation in the Eastern Mediterranean with an embattled history, a province of various empires from ancient Egypt to the British Empire, to its present-day status as a member state of the European Union.

Cyprus achieved independence from the British Empire in 1960, but a civil war that followed between the island’s Greek Cypriot majority and Turkish Cypriot minority led to the island’s invasion by Turkish forces in 1974 and the island’s division between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish-occupied lands to the republic’s north. Today, UN Peacekeepers continue to patrol the “Green Line” which partitions the island, as well as the capital of Nicosia, the last divided capital in Europe.

Over the next year, I’ll be studying the history of that urban division as an affiliate of The Cyprus Institute, a non-profit research institution in Nicosia. With my new monthly newsletter channel, The Cyprus Files, I plan to share my findings and experiences on the island to help meet the Fulbright program’s goal of building mutual understanding between the United States and the rest of the world. Please consider subscribing to The Usonian and/or The Cyprus Files to receive all my updates from the island of Aphrodite.

If you are already subscribed to The Usonian, you will receive The Cyprus Files automatically as emails sent directly to your inbox. If you don’t wish to receive The Cyprus Files, you can unsubscribe to that channel once the newsletter goes live toward the end of September.

Like The Usonian, The Cyprus Files will be a free newsletter; it will run on a monthly basis for the duration of my time on the island. The Cyprus Files will also be available for free in The Usonian archive.

Next up in The Usonian

Despite my summer break from newsletters, I’ve still got a lot of ground to cover in 2021. In the coming weeks, get ready for some more enlightening interviews from amazing writers working in entirely different contexts—including poets, thriller writers, and literary translators. As always, look forward to more posts about design, history, and travel.

Above all, thanks for taking this journey with me. Until the next time.


Harrison Blackman