Sometimes you need to get away from your private island and go to an actual island. If I thought of Martha’s Vineyard at all, I pictured rows of Adirondack chairs, painted chalk-white, a kind of David Hockney painting, or a still-life of boats. I didn”t think of grapes or farms or even jam. I love to be proven wrong, and on visiting there this past weekend, I was, delightfully. Invited by a friend, I discovered an island full of eco-farmers, lush gardens, book lovers and food-knowledgable, but mostly I discovered fun in good company.
I also had a chance to walk by myself down a wooded path, and I only did so knowing houses were nearby. There, I thought hard about what it is I envisioned for myself, if I really had the courage to write, if I had the courage to combine it with a teaching job I could treasure.
Having once frozen at an important job interview, unable to utter one thing in being asked to describe my ideal class, I find I can describe it now. I imagine a living room, with nicely upholstered chairs in stripes of gold and maroon, with a plate of brownies nearby. I imagine myself beginning each class with a poem read aloud. I imagine being well-read, prepared, and eager to impart knowledge and guide creativity into the minds of university students. I imagine looking forward to each class because I have already written or will write, and will every day, on a novel or on non-fiction that absorbs me. I will become the woman whose heart expands to include both her writing and teaching profession. I will find my own teaching voice and style with some grace, and remain interested.
Being engaged, being interested, being encouraged, and writing and teaching writing takes enormous discipline and patience. There are days like today when I just want to rest. I have been both a good and poor teacher. Writing is at the heart of it, as it will be in some of the students I might one day teach if they too want to pursue that path. It’s a fun path, really. It’s invigorating, and it’s difficult, and prompts self-doubt, but when work goes well, it’s like being transported to an island where the french toast and rhubarb and ricotta are good, where herbs are fresh, and coffee ground, where there are cows who I prefer to imagine are to provide milk than slaughtered.