What people ask…
1. Bozeman: One woman in the crowd asks, “What is the yurt now?” Of course, I tell her like it is… “Well, it’s our storage unit right now” and when my sentence ends I see the disappointment occupy her face, quickly, unapologetically, the way it does when someone’s image of someone else’s life has been shattered. “Life is messy,” I add, proud of my messy life, and when I say that, I see about 1,000 smiling faces.
2. Airport (aka What I ask): Long layover in Chicago O’Hare. As we pace up and down the long stretch of gates, I complain to Chris about how iPhones have ruined everything, including spontaneous meet-ups. “Will we ever feel free again?” I ask. And then one of my dearest friends, Courtney Martin, appears in front of me, with her daughter and husband. I haven’t seen her in a long long while. We shriek at each other. We might even do the chicken dance there on the slick marble floors as urgent travelers weave around us. Thank you, gods.
3. Maine: Eula eats frozen blueberries. Eula goes crazy-town-monkey-legs-arms-flung-high and I feel like there is nowhere I would rather be than with her. At the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, students lean forward in a cozy red room and one woman asks, “Does it ever go away?” She means the wanderlust. “Of course not,” I tell her. And I want to hug her. I want to hug everyone there.
4. Middlebury: Shit gets complicated. We sit in our friends’ driveway for 45 minutes assessing Eula’s runny nose and rattling cough, her worst sickness to date, to decide whether we can bring her into the house of a newborn. No, we can’t. It’s a quick decision. It’s a decision a parent makes, because, oh, we are parents now. Sadness lodges in us because these are close friends, dear friends, and we want nothing more than to move in for a few days, meet their wee babe and drink wine with them. But we aren’t sad for long because our daughter is sick not dying, and that’s all that matters. A professor/friend swoops in and we land in her home, what she calls chaos and we call stunning human chaos. At 3am, when my baby can barely breathe and my exhaustion is complete, my rage takes over and, even though I will myself to repeat “I release the need to blame others or myself,” all I want to do is pound blame into the person who gave her this cold, which is irrational and unfair, but sometimes I am irrational and unfair. I stroke her sweaty head. I hold her to my chest. I worry about her. I am awake all night, convinced that we should get on a plane tomorrow, call the whole thing off, and go home. But we don’t. The next day, we arrive at my reading, and as I’m paging through my book to pick a passage to read, Chris realizes that we are out of baby wipes and then we both step into a puddle of mud and then we split ways–so that I can go read and so he can go tend to our girl, whose eyes are watering from stuffiness, who is still so game for this, such a trooper, so enamored of every new thing anyway. After the reading, a very serious and endearing college student stalks up to me, whispers: “So is it the yurt or The Land?” It takes me two seconds to tell him it’s the land and then, right there, as Eula tests her voice in the hallways, as old professors of mine mill about, I miss the land bad, badly, bad, bad, bad.
5. Burlington: Images. Drinking tangerine juice in an ancient stone house with a friend I haven’t seen in six years. Eula feeding me mashed-up pieces of zucchini and laughing at me laughing because maybe she’s getting better and because it’s funny to feed your parent, isn’t it? Breakfast and evening with old friends and two boys and a grandmother and a dog. The true pleasure of being 1 of 5 writers at a reading and getting to listen to words from other people. Still blown away by Angela Palm’s short story about bullets and tumbleweed and girl friends. How does someone craft fiction? Wow, oh wow.
6. New York: Drove seven hours, and we felt like masterful animals because somehow the naps aligned with the drives (sort of) and the stops led to new discoveries–like a boy scout group giving out free hot dogs at the Connecticut welcome center off I-84, like a chained-off river that we thought about sneaking down to and then never did. Kissing our beb/papa goodbye after he drops us in Long Island City and heads to JFK to fly to his work situation in Milan. All in a day. Now I am staring out a window at a gorgeous city haze and drinking hibiscus tea made by the one and only Katinka Locascio. Eula on the mend. Love my love people.