April 01, 2018

A Ten-Year Glance Back

Have you been trying to figure out how to keep going? I have. It is helpful to be honest about that, in this weird stretch: the optimism of our 2018 resolutions are wearing off and yet the weather, by and large, has not yet lifted our spirits. 

One of the consequences of moving is that one has to reshuffle belongings and filings. So I came across the cover of the very first Washington Post Magazine where my work appeared, in 2008, as the lead-off for the "XX Files" columns "of a certain chromosomal persuasion." There's Cheryl Strayed, pre-Wild. A stock image of a girl runs, playful, across a field. 

Ten years later (and in between), I am again in the Washington Post Magazine. This time I'm talking about "The politics of poetry in the era of Trump," following my trip to Cyprus--an opportunity that would have been unimaginable ten years ago. The image is of a woman's calves, decisive, stepping up.

On a bad day, I might look and see  two bylines, in the exact same spot, neither with my actual name. Today, I'll look and see that I'm hanging in, my work now standing alone rather than one of an amalgam. And look how far the larger cover has come. 

I have friends and loved ones, a place to put my head down at night. But when I look back, it will be writing that saved my life during this stretch. Because I admit a kind of pure, driving curiosity about words that hit the page, even after all these years. What they can do. Where they can go. Narcissistic? Probably. I'm cooking, I'm hungry, I'm still here. I'll take it. 

When I used to take photos of magazines and books in our old place, the place we moved from in January, I could take advantage of the pretty walnut of my grandmother's dining table, or the clean bamboo finish of our rented floor. Now that dining table is my husband's desk, and my floor option is a more pedestrian carpet. But the apartment that carpet belongs to is rent-controlled, and capacious enough to welcome a family for dinner on the fly. If you were coming through town and desperate for a couch (er, a floor) to crash on, the carpet of my studio could do the job. This creature is making herself at home at my feet right now~

...so I'm going to consider that a victory. I am all about the small victories these days. If you're going through hell, keep going. 

1 comment:

jdavis5 said...

I love this little reflection. Looking back on how far we've come can certainly sometimes clear away the doldrums of poet-life.