Going back to your Gulf Coast hometown after a long time is weird, a little uncomfortable, especially in the middle of a highly politicized pandemic. Things look the same; they look different. Buildings you grew up in became Panera Breads or are abandoned altogether. Your childhood home is still yellow but is covered in the green mold your mother pressure washed off every summer. There are more broken shells on the beach than you remember. It’s weird to be a Southerner who’s become a Northerner in so many ways.
Before writing my wraps, I always read the previous year’s publication. 2020 sucked, didn’t it? As some of you may feel like 2021 flew by (for me, it’s like Groundhog Day), yet here we are. Another year gone and so much to be grateful for and reflect on. It’s amazing that a person can experience so much growth without breaking. What a year it’s been. It felt like standing still, but I know that I’m moving forward towards wishes and goals that I haven’t yet had the strength to make public.
In the attic there lives a ghoul. His name is Frank. He is not loud. He does not take up much space. He does not eat food. If you didn’t look hard, you wouldn’t see him at all.
Montreal is a very clean city. More than that, it is a very approachable city. Even though my French is rusty, and Richie’s is nonexistent, we managed to get ourselves around without incident (except when Rich somehow knocked out an entire POS system by clicking on the wrong button at check-out). The food was great, the coffee was great, it wasn’t quite freezing. What more could one want?
fter two straight months of no rest, I have at last arrived on the other side. All of my creative projects are still here, unfinished, and yearning to be more. No more excuses to be found or conjured; there’s only work.
In Salem, there are a lot of doors. There are a lot of doors to be seen and a lot of doors to be seen by the right pairs of eyes. Not everyone has the gift; this is just something you’ll have to accept. But, if you do have the gift, then those doors are yours to open. That in itself requires a different set of skills, brave ones, but you can go far on something like bravery. I’ll tell you where one is (a door, that is) if you promise to say anything to anyone. This must remain between us. Here are your instructions.
Every year, the master’s students I work with at Harvard give a five-minute presentation on the work they’re doing out in the field. It’s a hard thing to encapsulate months of work in that amount of time (though three or four always go over their allotment), and I admire them for it. Really seems to focus their attention; to help them hone in on what’s important. In that spirit, I will attempt to do the same for myself and those of you on a path of creative exploration and growth.
Twenty years is a long time. It’s time enough to live a full chapter of life: to start a career and end it, to raise a child, to get fed up completely with society and move to the countryside and cultivate a witchy reputation that is at once feared and admired. Twenty years is long enough to get to know yourself, drift apart, and come together again like any tragic love story. Twenty years is long enough to fall in love with your best friend a little bit more every day until the two of you are more easily recognized as a pair than as individuals. It is an endless blessing in my life to count Harriet as my best friend.
This blog has seen a lot of me. More than that, it’s seen a lot of my work. Over the last four or five years, I’ve written hundreds of pages in the way of essays, poems, operas, spoken word albums, obituaries, short stories, and novels. Every line, every word has been a real piece of me, a real piece that I place in a basket and send down the river hoping that it will arrive to some distant shore. I’m never really sure what I hope to happen after that. I don’t have many expectations for my words (letting go of outcomes is a mental shift I’ve been trying to make for awhile, to varying degrees of success), save one: I hope they do good.
Madelyn sets the crossword to the side. None of the answers are right, but she still managed to make everything fit. Making yourself right tastes better over a cup of instant coffee. Her daughter gifted her fancy beans from Colombia last Christmas. The bag sits on the counter next to the coffee pot, unopened. She likes the ink print on the front so much that she could never bring herself to open it. She settles for opening more cards with other people's names on them instead.