I feel like Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz. This is a poor example, literarily shallow, over-used and therefore cliched. But even so–or perhaps because of this–it is how I feel. For a while now, I’ve missed home, even though I’ve only been here for a little over a week. But today, more than missing home, I feel I am done being here. I have gained so much, learned more than I’d anticipated about more than I’d anticipated–I am glad I came. And I am glad I am going home.
There are two more days full of mainly readings and social events, but my brain is full. Try taking a picture with a full memory card; it simply won’t let you. That is how my head is functioning right now. I realized at last night’s evening reading that I wasn’t even paying attention. And that’s when I decided, despite the Gala Reception and Barn Dance I’ll miss–events of the sort that, though I see their place, are not why I came here–I have gleaned all that shall be gleaned from this experience, and I’m ready to go home. And start planning my next one. Whatever that will be. I’m open for suggestions.
At yesterday’s lecture, ‘The Romance of Elsewhere and the Bonds of Home’, Lynn Freed spoke about travelling. In travel, she said, some search for themselves, some for anonymity–but most people find both. Because it is only in the contrast between the two that the other can exist. I don’t know if I found neither or both, but I am quite sure that when I wake up and Auntie Em and Uncle Henry are there, I will be just as changed as cliched Dorothy, and her little dog, too.
In the last eight days, I have been to six lectures, four craft classes, three workshops, and thirteen readings. I have walked to my house and back–which is .32 miles or about 600 steps each way–twelve times. I have eaten 19 meals, sent 37 emails, posted ten blogs–this will be number eleven–and cried once. Not a bad, I think.
There is a woman here who looks exactly like my chiropractor, if my chiropractor were to dye her hair black and start dressing like a hipster. I think by now she knows I’ve been staring at her, and I should probably tell her why sometime soon.
There is a a slowness to time here that I cannot describe in words, no matter how many writing classes I attend. Anyone able to capture it, in poetry or prose, should be rewarded a permanent fellowship. The pace of the day speeds and slows, speeds and slows, like the voices of the writers in the little theatre as they read their stories and verse. This is a bad example, really, because it contains a simile, and similes are the figurative language of the masses. Rewording famous quotes is also frowned upon. So, I believe, is listing. Particularly numerical lists.
Using sentence fragments, however, is acceptable. Encouraged, even.
Rocks. On rock.
Barbara, Me, Judith, and Chris at the Book Signing and Reception at Treman
These are the days that I will look back upon longingly. This is the place I’ve wanted to be since before I could drink, before I had a mortgage and a husband, two dogs and a white picket fence. In the weeks, months, and years to come, I will remember. The day I had lunch on the lawn of Frost’s cabin. The day I sat behind Julia Alvarez. The day I thought, for the first time in my life, that perhaps, perhaps I would like to write poetry. I will remember the fog in the meadow beyond the stone wall and through the open gate, the yellow houses against the green mountains, and the dim theatre that has absorbed the words of literary legends for almost a century, while people sat on uncomfortable chairs to listen. I will sigh, wishing I had the courage to read my own words in that theatre. I only regret the things I do not do. But I did this. And I will remember all of this, and smile. But today–today is hot and sweaty. Today I wish I had my own bathroom, and could take a leisurely shower, maybe even shave my legs. Today I miss that husband and dogs and fence. And it is always, always today.
A side note…
Please do excuse any spelling or punctuation errors. I assure you it is due to fat fingers typing on an iPhone keypad, and not ignorance of the conventions of the English language. Additionally, after I hit publish, I can’t go back and fix anything without an actual computer which, as anyone who knows me can imagine, drives me and my OCD crazy.
I have been avoiding writing on my phone– as was the plan when I started this blog– because it runs down the battery. I typically leave my room a bit before seven in the morning and return around eleven at night. I am staying in a little white house only a five minute walk from the Bread Loaf Inn– the center of the conference– but rarely have time during the day to make the trip back. That’s a long time for a battery to last– and a long time for my internal battery, too.
I got actual sleep last night– I even dreamed, though they were disturbing dreams. I recall being tol off by one of my favorite students in one dream, and another in which Missie scolded me for not doing a good job babysitting for her, right before she nearly ran her daughter over with her car (though it was– and I remember thinking this in the dream– a pretty cool car. A red new beetle convertible.)
I have a new approach that will hopefully help my mental state while here; something close to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power Of Now (which I’ve never actually read but have flipped through in the bookstore quite extensively). I walked to the inn this morning, looking at the birch trees and wondering why morning dew makes my feet itch (and why that fact is not mentioned in the song) and repeated to myself ‘I am here now’, and tried really hard to appreciate that simple fact.
I am not unhappy here. I’m definitely learning a lot, starting to get more rest, and only being bitten by one out of every ten mosquitoe– not 12 out of every ten as was the case in North Carolina. But I am lonely, a little overwhelmed, and quite discontented. Thus the new zen outlook. We shall see how it goes.
Pre morning lecture. For some reason that I cannot understand, they just started playing ‘send in the clowns’…?
Post lecture update–the song made sense. It was a lecture on the use of irony in poetry…for lack of a longer explanation. Quite interesting.
There is a reason I had my own apartment for the majority of college– all of it, minus ‘the lost semester’ at lock haven–I don’t share well. And last night I learned that I also don’t sleep well whilst sharing. I went to bed around 1 in the morning and gave up trying to sleep at 6:02. I definitely napped on and off during that time period, but was definitely awake more than I was asleep. I think this might be a major problem as the week progresses.
And to think I was worried about fitting in. I seem to never worry about the right things. It almost makes worrying at all seem kind of silly.
I’m off to the morning lecture. I have no idea what it is on, but a bell just rang so I have to walk toward it.
I’ll post some ‘the view from where I’m sitting’ pictures. The weather here is amazing. I can say this with much experience– as I laid awake last night for hours, all I could think was ‘damn this is annoying’ mixed with ‘gee that’s a pleasant breeze’.