Driving home from the Grub Street conference last Sunday, I worked my camera with my right hand and the steering wheel with my left. The Cinco de Mayo sun made its languid descent over southbound traffic, casting trees and shrubbery in unprejudiced glow. The hula girl on the dashboard chuckled at me. Who tries to capture the landscape while driving 70 miles per hour?
I’ve been eager to capture everything this spring. The yard that fills with crocuses in March.
The pale April halo of the willow tree in the bank parking lot.
The flock of forsythia on the hill.
It’s easier on my bicycle than in my car. Some days, I’ll stop for anything. A shock of green against gray thickets.
An early dandelion sighting.
Whatever is beautiful and just beginning.
I’m storing up spring in New England like a woman who might have to give it up. Come September I hope to be teaching part time and writing more, so we’ll move wherever David finds a full time job. He craves the adventure of living Somewhere Entirely Different. I’m crossing every finger and toe that we’ll stay here.
It’s not something we argue about. We know only one of us will get what we want; we trust we’ll both get what we need. Meanwhile, uncertainty is doing its essential work in me. The message came on a tea bag a month ago. I stapled it into my journal. A week later, I found it on the china cabinet at Willa’s house. Wherever you go, go with all of your heart.
I’ve begun gathering my heart back into myself. Clasping small hands at recess, knowing they’ll play on without me.
Savoring birthdays at book club like they’re the last I’ll see.
And taking pictures. Not just of bright yellow blossoms but of dandelions gone to seed.
I’ve nursed a newfound obsession with deteriorating floral arrangements.
The end of things has become as beautiful as the beginning.
The Muse & the Marketplace conference was a garden in full bloom. The soil of the Boston Park Plaza teemed with writers and people who love writers.
Thank heaven for my blue volunteer t-shirt, and the chance to say, “Can I help you?” over and over again. All along I really wanted to say, We belong to each other. You are mine and I am yours and laughable as it seems we will express things no one has expressed before.
I didn’t take many pictures. It’s harder to explain yourself to strangers than it is to explain yourself to a tree.
Besides, there comes a point when spring takes over so fully that you lose all hope of cataloguing its splendors. Leaves nose out from their branches like Seussian elephants.
The lilacs weary of holding back fragrance.
A week after the conference, I cradle my name badge with reverence. What is a grammar floozy? A woman who cozies up with The Elements of Style in lingerie or a woman who’s fast and easy with split infinitives?
Wherever we go, there won’t be another writer’s community like Grub Street. Few organizations of any kind manage to dance so nimbly between professional powerhouse and creative feel goodery.
I cherished the conference the way I’ve cherished this spring. So good. So fleeting.
The marvel of being human is that we transplant easily enough. With proper care, we’ll bloom in any climate. Every flower has to fall eventually. Who doesn’t love treading blossoms beneath her feet?
The marvel of being human is that we try to capture things that cannot be captured. Words. Pictures. You get as close as you can and then throw up your hands and stop trying. Even when you’re sitting still, it might as well be flying by at 70 miles per hour.