Friday, August 20, 2010
492: last bread loafian day
Meryl was kind enough to take a photograph of me reading my poem in the Little Theatre during a Blue Parlor one-minute-marathon event. We bullied each other into doing it, and now we can say we read in that famous theatre. While you are at it, see this post on her blog and drool over that last photograph.
This year has been more difficult than last in so many ways:
The obvious is that bump that is ever-protruding. I watched the curve of the desk get closer and closer with each workshop day. The greatest delight (and I hate that this word is so banal, but it's exactly what my heart is saying, exactly with that "light" at the end, the lit-smile radiance) is when I feel the tipsy babe roll in my stomach, a little fish below the surface, skittering around. It's a beautiful sensation, and more than makes up for my trips to the bathroom, my little winces over toilet bowl. And despite the long, dark hallways at night, I'm still grateful for the plumbing in the middle of sleep, when I wake to my shrinking bladder's wails.
I'm also approaching the last year of the MFA program, which means I've got a book manuscript to worry over. In one frenzied morning, I collected all of my wandering poems that are thematically linked to the thesis, and another was spent tinkering on the organization. I had a conference with a famous-writer, and for the first time, I experienced the tinges of one aesthetic dominating my own. I'm used to instructors who will help guide me toward my own vision, but some of the suggestions completely unmoored me, in some ways a good thing (while I might not take it word-for-word, I do realize I need to use some of the suggestion injection), in other ways it threw me, and Meryl had to remind me to stand firm, that my vision was my own and that it had merit in the world. It's been hard--I've felt in turns deflated and elated while here, and last year, it was so much more even-keel. I'm not sure if I should attribute that to the rollicking pregnancy hormones or the urgency of a full-length book as opposed to individual poems that could come or go.
What's really shook me this time around is the invasive feeling of homesickness. I hadn't felt this on any other writing retreat; this is the first time I've felt achy inside. I miss my sweet pups whose noggins knock me about, I miss my chubby cats who wedge themselves into me when I read in bed, I miss my own bed and the shape and color of my house (so much yellow and green shutters here) and the kitchen and abundant milk, I miss my husband, I miss my husband, I miss him. I miss how he is such a firm comfort: I can wedge myself into his arms when I am upset, I can have him talk me down from crazy ledges, I can cry openly and plainly. It isn't quite the same, especially when you've had this comfort for eleven years.
This is all so very whiny and complaining and I hate that, especially since this experience has been such a gift. I love these mountains, I love these old buildings with their dysfunctional doorknobs, I love the daily conversations about poetry, I love being able to ruminate with one of my best friends, I love falling asleep and being able to turn the lamp off when I want to, I love the freedom to not worry over dishes and what to prepare for the next meal, I love the bookstore beneath our room, I love the books and books I've been reading. I love that each time I come here, it transforms me, pushes me into a new phase of being "a writer" that would have taken so long before, love that I have gotten so much work done and have been given so many things to consider, love that there is some measure of hope that the thesis will become a manuscript will one day become a book.
I'm just ready to come home, to carry this experience with me, to love and love and love.
Oh, and all week, I didn't do any knitting on my little kicking bag (oh, the baby just moved again, just as I was writing this!), but today I picked up the needles again, knowing I was returning home, a little rise in domesticity.
And one more thing: I do love that I didn't have to leave my child behind and miss it fiercely. I could carry it with me this go-around, bring the little secret self onto the journey. Next year, I won't be able to fly across the country; I know I wouldn't be ready to leave that expanded family for ten days. It's truly been a good "last hurrah," especially having the company of someone you love (and in this case, yes, baby could count, but I mean dear Meryl).