A year ago I was sitting at home, on my bed, the night before I was to drive 500 miles away to school in the desert. And I was terrified. Excited, eager to see what my first residency had to offer, but honestly--scared. I was scared of where I was driving, scared of southern California freeways, scared of leaving my kids and E for that long, scared of having to meet people and be interesting and be vulnerable about my work. I was scared of showing up and being found out as the one person who was just pretending to be a writer.
It was hard. I won't lie. I am not one for new social situations, and it took me most of that first residency to warm up enough to the idea that people might actually want to talk to me. But in the end--literally, the end, like the LAST night--I finally realized that I was surrounded by supportive, kind souls who had been talking to me the whole time, and I better start acting like I wanted to be friends with these people. The second residency this June was completely different, and from day one I felt almost like I was with family.
I don't know if it's the kind of fast closeness that comes when you're traveling, or the fact that we all spend time reading so much of each other's work and thoughts online. But this group of people I'm going to see next week... they're important.
This time, as I sit on my bed and think about tomorrow: residency number three, I feel like I'm going home. Not home, home. But another home. Is there a word for it? The kind where you feel safe and you can use shorthand for the kind of creative thing that feeds your soul. It's a little bit like the bond I had with my ballet friends growing up. Maybe this is what I would have felt like if I went off to college. Or maybe I wasn't ready for it at 18, and it's better that it came to me at 32.
I wish I could go back and tell last-December-me to just relax and trust that people wanted to talk to her. That she'd grow to love the desert that looked so alien as she first drove into the Coachella valley.
I'm so excited for tomorrow to come so I can drive towards Palm Springs. But I'm also wishing I could stop time. This residency marks three out of only five. I'm more than halfway and I don't want it to end.