The echoes of a person you once knew

Posted on Apr 16, 2015 in Blog
The echoes of a person you once knew
So I went to AWP last week, and it was lovely. Magical. So much fun. Book fairs and cupcakes and dinners and readings and long talks with friends new and old. One of the nicest hotel rooms I’ve ever stayed in. Long bubble baths at night, reading the haul that I brought back from the book fair.

Did I mention that there were cupcakes?

 I felt like my old self again. My pre-2014 self, alive and excited. 

One night I read from a new essay I’ve been working on. I had two essays to choose from and I couldn’t decide between them, so I gave them to Troy (aka my Little Fiction partner in crime) and let him be the judge, and there was a tiny part of me that hoped and kind of knew that he would go for the unfinished essay, unfinished though it was, and that’s what happened, so that’s what I read.

The reading took place in an actual dive bar, with disco lights and a grizzled bartender who looked like he’d been slinging drinks since 1950. At one point in the night they started playing Johnny Cash. Also, there was a taxidermied cougar on the wall.

It was the first time I’d ever read a non-fiction piece out loud and
when I finished I almost felt high, that’s how exhilarating it was. That
strange mix of performance and vulnerability and also power, when you
own the story that you’re telling in a different kind of way. When it’s you, in some sense, that you’re talking about. I will tell you the truth but maybe not all of it–or, I will tell you the truth but the secret to it is that there are other truths that sit right alongside it, and belong to other people.

It is a truth, but it is also a story.

The whole time was lovely and wonderful and I miss the people that we met already, and my stomach started rumbling with sadness and anxiety about going back to my regular life even before the conference had ended.

And now I am back, and slightly refreshed, but also desperate to hang on to that enthusiasm in a way that feels self-sabotaging, as though I can already feel the strands of contentment slipping away. I find myself thinking seriously about exit strategies, and exactly how one goes about moving from one period of life to the next. New job, new city, new possibilities. It’s still a long ways away, but I can at least see glimpses of it now, which is refreshing, and exciting in a way that I haven’t felt for months and months. Maybe there is something to this writing after all. Maybe.


1 Comment

  1. mshalston
    April 16, 2015