As you might guess from the length of yesterday’s and today’s posts–the squares turning into rectangles–writing these short is getting more difficult. The years feel unwieldy now rather than obscure. I’m working to contain rather than to remember.
2008: I start the year excited about returning to Italy–this time to the Sirenland Writers Conference. It’s the perfect storm of writing conferences: Dani Shapiro plus Hannah Tinti of One Story plus Le Sirenuse–where Cal and I went on our honeymoon and where we returned on our 10th Anniversary and on our 15th. Dani’s husband Michael persuades me to join Facebook for access to the Sirenland group there, and just like that, I fall into Facebook. In February I begin my career as chauffeur to the stars by driving Richard Russo from Columbus, where he was speaking at the Library Foundation Dinner, to the Atlanta Airport. Then it’s off to Zion National Park in Utah for Pamfa–Pam’s writing group. In March my first novel is one of ten finalists in the Emory Goes Novel contest. I’m in Dani’s workshop at Sirenland, and I submit a section of novel #2. One day, as we climb 1700 old stone stairs to lunch, a sudden rain sends torrents of water cascading down beside us. And I’m not a foodie but oh, the food… Kathleen gets engaged–we will be adding another Sam to the family! Jack graduates. Cal and I see Allison Kraus and Robert Plant in concert at the outdoor amphitheater at Chastain Park in Atlanta. In August I go back to Pam’s ranch in Colorado. In the fall we settle Jack into Chapman University in Orange, CA, where he will study digital arts so he can create video games. And… we are down to one. Sam begins high school dreading four years of individual scrutiny. He continues the football thread as a backup quarterback. I start the countdown to no children at home. I also begin a conversation with Cal. I’m tired of living in Columbus. And I want to spend more time near water, at the beach I think. I write all the time–working on the new novel and on stories too. And I decide to start a blog. Within 24 hours of making the decision, it’s up and running. Which is unlike me. On September 29th, the stock market crashes–falling 777 points. I sit in my car at Publix listening to NPR as one bank after another fails. Amandah and I and the husbands hike the 23 miles of the Pine Mountain Trail not knowing it will be the last time. 51 books this year with so many highlights: Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather, Light in August by William Faulkner, and The Gathering by Anne Enright. In December “Into the Woods” is published in Storyglossia. When Coldplay sings Viva la Vida, I want to bounce up and down.
She sees that she has before her an important task: to understand that all the things that happened in her life happened to her. That she is the same person who was born, was a child, a girl, a young woman, and now she is old. That there is some line running through her body like a wick.
Mary Gordon, The Rest of Life