Sunday, December 14, 2014

The End

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I just woke up from a pillow-mark-on-my-face, sweaty-hair, drool-on-the-pillow nap. Work hard, nap hard, I guess. The sun is setting and the resort is quiet. Almost all the writers are gone.

I came back this residency to TA--to work for the school keeping the schedule of editor and author appointments and to do anything I could to help out. In exchange, I got to be here to see my mentee graduate and catch up with my friends. I'm dog tired, and not in the way that I usually am. Ordinarly my brain is fried by the end of the week. This week it's my cankles. Assisting is not a huge mental challenge, but I was always moving.

Last night was the end of something. The end of my time here? Maybe. At least the end of my time here as it has been. Being here two residencies after my own graduation has shown me, as my friend Maggie puts it, that we're all completely replaceable. There are new people at the fire pits now, new people who have their usual spots in the R Bar and their own jokes and their own memories of drinking cheap wine while they laugh and cry about awkward moments in workshop. New people eager to hear advice about publishing and discover more about this world. I'm excited for them and what they're discovering. But it's been good to discover that the thing I think I miss has very little to do with convening in the desert. The thing is the people I took with me, and they're with me just as much at home.

The people--my people--are so much a part of my daily and weekly life now that I don't need the excuse to meet up. Being here I just feel the absence of the other friends who are not. But in real life, they're all there. Several times a year we're together in person, and in-between, it's our texts, chats, Google Hangouts and phone calls that keep us close. One of the best things about a low-res program in 2014 is that all these people live in my phone where I can reach them instantly, regardless of where they live.

I want to say that being here showed me that I don't need this place anymore. That sounds kind of sad, or maybe a little rough. But I think it was the lesson of this, my 6th residency. I guess it's shown me that the thing I was so dizzy about finding over the course of the first few--the community, the feeling that there are people out there who understand me and what it is I want for myself--isn't only something that exists here.

I didn't take that many pictures this time. We're all too comfortable with each other. Just family. Plus it just feels like I'll see them again. I feel less frantic clinging, because I know who has proven they'll be there next week, too.

If anything, being here reminds me that I am responsible for keeping the ties I have to this network of people. If I want to workshop, I owe pages to the two friends that read my work every few weeks. If I want to get together and laugh, I need to keep making time for it. If I miss people, I need to call them.

This school helped me find myself as much as anything. To figure out that I can call myself a writer and that having a group of like-minded nerds might enrich my life. I have that part down. I'm good. I just need to go forward and work hard. I need to keep the people close to me who I want close, even if this phase is over.

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