Thursday, December 29, 2011
The Work Ahead
My last night in Seattle, after a large nap-inducing dinner, I sat in my living room with two of my musician friends and listened to them compose songs in honor of Brussels and Titanic for my pleasure. They were the best final hours you could ever have in a departing city. And then I was gone.
Now, 48 hours later, I’ve seen the better part of the rest of my family (on both sides), including uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces, step-siblings, and the family cats who have grown very fat with their winter weight. I stayed up late last night re-packing my bags for this weekend’s New York City Year-of-the-Shanda festivities and fell asleep to the comforting sounds of Patrick Stewart’s voice.
It is strange holding pattern to be between homes. Very familiar, but still the ground is shifting underneath your feet.
Tonight, I shared a Greek pizza with my Aunt (the one always characterized by my father as “eccentric”). While we sat in the nearly-empty Corsican restaurant she blinked at my vague descriptions of the projects I want to work on in Belgium and said “so what are you most afraid of during this adventure? What are you most excited for?”
Way to skip the chit-chat on the best places to buy chocolate and musings on your old Belgium crushes, my dear aunt! Why don’t we just get straight to the heart of the matter? This doesn’t surprise me coming from a woman who has sought out shamans and flown to Belize for drum circles and a few months ago shaved off all of her hair in solidarity with a friend of hers who’s undergoing chemo. Let’s just skip the casual banter and get right to the vulnerable underbelly. What am I afraid of? What can’t I wait for?
The fact is – I guess they amount to the same thing. The writing.
You’ll have to bear with me – I’ve been watching too much Star Trek as I fall asleep these nights, but there was a quote from a recent episode that seemed to tie a bow around this fear-excitement dynamic nicely. In an episode called “Evolution,” a wizened and brilliant researcher reflects on the path that led him to this career-capping moment and turns to a promising, young Ensign Crusher and imparts this nugget: “you will never come up against a greater adversary than your own potential, my young friend.”
It’s been awhile since I’ve had such a vast buffet of possibilities for my writing life. Maybe I’ll find this wellspring of inspiration and sit at my corner writing desk for 16 hours a day. Maybe I’ll only be able to stab out tiny poetry prompts. Maybe I’ll bring it back to you and you’ll all say “what were you even trying to do?” Maybe I’ll just say “screw it all” and write my teen movie.
But the fact is that that level of possibility and the option for greatness is a little daunting.
So maybe I’ll just go on this chocolate tour of Brussels that my friend sent me.
In any case, this evening, after everyone else went to bed, I sketched out some more of the novel outline while a fat kitty tried to sleep on my laptop. And now, a few hours later, I am reminded that it’s a truly satisfying feeling: lying under a pile of blankets having just used my computer for its intended purpose again.
I’ve got a lot of work to do.