My creative instincts go dormant in times of high stress. So do my social media instincts; I drop off of Facebook and Twitter and, evidently, this blog. That's a good survival tactic--I focus on my to-do list, and steer around antic or angry one-line postings--except I feel guilty about the isolation, anxious I've misplaced myself. In the past two weeks, I moved and then I moved again. I stayed up until 2 AM unpacking the last of cardboard boxes in our new apartment and, after a few hours' sleep, packed my suitcases and made the 20-hour trip to Wichita State University for February. The bed & breakfast where I'm staying has an in-house kitty, a Russian Blue who stares at me dolefully and merely tolerates my petting. I miss the polydactyl tortie who leaps up on my pillow and gently extends a paw to tap me on the forehead.
Travel has been the catalyst of my 30s. I have to laugh when I remember missing a dear friend's wedding, back in my 20s, because at the time I couldn't fathom driving to Nashville alone. Travel has offered me the chance to see incredible things, and to clarify what I can do with my life. But at times it is lonely, especially when getting to know the prairie winds and 4 AM trains of Kansas.
A couple of nights before I left home, I hosted a poetry dinner at the Arts Club of Washington. I've been doing these for a while now, as a perk for the members. Each salon is a chance to read and discuss poems, curated to theme, over a three-course meal. The theme this time was "Travel," and here are the texts I used:
- "Travel" by Robert Louis Stevenson
- "Arrival at Santos" by Elizabeth Bishop
- "The Sweet Hurried Trip Under and Overcast Sky: Urban Renewal, xxvii" by Major Jackson
- "Return to Florence" by Cyrus Cassells
- "Report Back: Torino in April" by Sarah Browning (from her new collection, Killing Summer)
- "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles" by Sally Wen Mao
- "Looking for the Gulf Motel" by Richard Blanco
- "Quisiera Declarar" by Erika Meitner
Noble House, a Hawaiian lunch plate spot as good as any I've had in Kauai. I suspect it was Chef Akamu Noble himself working the register. Upon hearing I was a poet from D.C., he recommended I visit Reverie Roasters up the street, where I got a "boneshaker" espresso (I'm a pushover for espresso with a side of fizzy water). Then, just for the excuse to stay, I drank another two cups of batch brew coffee. Cue the 3:41 AM wake-up. I did a few hours of drafting on comments for forthcoming poetry anthologies, so that's two items off my to-do list. But what mattered most was being surrounded by the hum of other people living and working. The funny thing about traveling far from home is that my goal, once I'm here, is always simply to make myself feel...at home. Now I just gotta befriend the cat.