I haven’t posted for a while, and it’s partly because I’ve been so busy. Mostly because I’ve been so busy. But there’s something else . . .
I feel as though I’m in a still place, a place of stasis. That’s not necessarily bad. Stillness is also peaceful, and I’ve been feeling less frantic than I have in a long time. It’s a good place: I love everything I’m doing. I love teaching undergraduate writing at Boston University, I love teaching my graduate creative writing students at Stonecoast. I have enough money to cover my living expenses and some luxuries, which certainly hasn’t always been the case. (Graduate school — ugh.) I live in a beautiful apartment, in a beautiful city. I just happen to have the best daughter in the world.
But it’s a strange place, too, because I’m not used to standing still. I’m used to things happening, to continually moving toward. Or, you know, away from . . . I’m used to a sense of motion, rather than stillness. It’s strange, for me, to think that I could stay here for the rest of my life, and it would be a perfectly good life. If nothing changed, I would be fine. Of course, that never happens. Things always change: if nothing else, I will get older. Nevertheless, if I stayed here, where I am, for a long time — it would be perfectly fine. And sometimes that fills me with a sense of panic.
I think it’s because I’ve spent my entire life moving from place to place, adjusting to new circumstances. Hungary to Belgium to the United States. Philadelphia to Washington D.C. to Boston. To Richmond to New York to Boston again. University of Virginia to Harvard to Boston University. And now here I am, having lived in Boston for a long time, having been at Boston University for more than ten years, as a student and then teacher. A great deal has happened in that time — and it’s really only in the last few months, since I settled into this apartment, that I feel as though I’ve arrived someplace. That I’m not just transitioning from one place to another. There’s something lovely about feeling settled. But I’m not used to it.
I suppose what I should be thinking is, I’ve come to a place that I can build on. Here, where I feel both strangely at peace and agitated from that strangeness, I can finally start to build what I want to, which is books — I want to build out of words. My first full-length novel is already with my lovely agent. I just sent him a synopsis of the second novel. And I do have so many ideas, for novels and stories and essays . . .
So I suppose my advice to myself should be: settle in and work.
The other thing I need to remember, to remind myself of, is that nothing ever stays the same. Stasis is, in the end, an illusion. The world may feel still, but it’s spinning. Everything we do, every choice we make, can change what happens. Who knows what will happen with this novel, or the one after it, or the one after that. The more we do, the more opportunities we are given to do things. And that sometimes means we are overwhelmed with work (ahem). But it also means we get to do amazing things . . .
I have already gotten to do a lot of amazing things. And I intend to do more.
So I need to take this stillness as the gift it is — a time when nothing seems to be happening, and I can maybe catch up, take a breath. Get ready for whatever is to come.
(These pictures are from our snowstorm last week. Today we are having another snowstorm, and once again university classes are cancelled. I don’t remember them being cancelled twice in one semester . . . ever. Not since I arrived here more than ten years ago. This is a particularly heavy winter, just right for being contemplative.)