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Tremendous Rain

Indira Ganesan, Tremendous Rain, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Tremendous Rain, 2013

Tremendous rain today here on the outermost part of the Cape, and a clearing, a washing, a cleansing of the past week.  I have so many questions, wondering what caused two young men to catapult with such pressure to both inflict and receive pain on themselves.  Of course we are responsible; if we are not responsible, if we do not accept responsibility, then we fail as a humanist society.  There is tremendous, incomprehensible loss, the stolen Friday, the fear and confusion, and the resultant relief when the siege was over.

There is a need to tell the story,the where were you when, because telling a story provides relief for the storyteller and sometimes for the listener, and because it builds bridges between people when we desperately need bridges, to fight loneliness, fear,suffering of soul and heart.  My story is simple, removed from the heart of the events, because I was not there, in Boston, when it began. I was on a bus, heading towards Portland, Maine.  Monday, I arrived on the 6:30 bus from Provincetown to catch the 1:15 to Portland.  I thought maybe I could see the runners, because I would be so close.  I took the subway to Park, where I found breakfast at the Clover truck, a place I was curious about.  I remember asking the couple in line for a recommendation, chose granola and yogurt though I really just wanted a muffin and coffee, but thinking why not honor their suggestion.  The minutia of our lives.  I took my food to a table vacated by a smiling mother with her children, but finding it cold in the shade, I moved to a sunnier spot.  Finishing, I thought I will walk to Boylston, but I was carrying my suitcase, and the thought of the crush of spectators, but the knowledge that the seats on the sidelines would be filled, made me go into my favorite cafe, and later, head back to South Station for my bus north.

I had read on Sunday at the wonderful Titcomb’s Bookshop in Sandwich, a shop owned and run by several generations of the same family.  It is a shop I will return to; I was invited by coincidence because I was looking for a book for my niece and found it there online.  Welcomed with enthusiasm and grace, and gave a reading to a group of women who could not have been more generous.  We shared stories, and I left with a package of cookies and brownies I took with me to Portland.

An old Work Center friend met me in Portland, and settled me into the old hotel where I would stay, before going off to teach.  I thought I would make a mini-vacation in Portland, so booked myself another day, before I would take the early bus back to Boston and Emerson College.  I thought I would explore this city, maybe get a therapeutic massage, and write in the hotel.  After unpacking, I thought I’d stroll in the neighborhood a bit before  the reading I’d give at the University of Southern Maine, but as I crossed the lobby, my phone rang with the first of many updates from my college about the marathon.

I spoke to the concierge at the hotel, I overheard conversations on the street, I found a cafe, found news online, talked some more on the way to the reading.  It was baffling, unbelievable, surreal.  It was my city, my part-time city, my two days a week plus more city.  It was my neighborhood, it was Boylston Street where my brother used to live in a funky apartment building I’d loved, where I imagined, after he’d long moved, that I could live one day, if I were to live in Boston.  But my claim to the city was small, fractional.

My reading went very well, and the students were interested, asked great questions about how one manages to keep on writing when the writing becomes difficult, and it was all over too quickly.

The next day, I went back to the cafe, and had a chance to speak to two women who were both affected by the news, and we did what people must do: speak, listen, hug.  This is what we must continue to do.

In another post, I will list the pleasures of Portland.  In another, the pleasures of Boston.  When I returned on Wednesday, the star magnolia trees were already in bloom.  My classes, my lovely students, shaken.  We went through our day’s work, and I listened to their young voices, reading and talking about their work, with such maturity, such confidence.  These are who will tell our stories, who will shape our future.

I returned late to my home, and the surreal calm  of the Cape, its beauty, was accented, as I realized that the further you are from a fulcrum of  trauma, the more unreal the trauma becomes.  Friday, I got up early, readying to go to work.  A neighbor called to that Boston was shut down.  My city?  Couldn’t be.  I would be late for my bus, but I listened, thinking, Emerson would call. Emerson did call, a little later.  I stayed home, fed apples to the neighboring horses, walked distractedly through town for some errands, and checked in with the news all day.

This morning I awoke to rain, and the news, which was more or less certain last night, that the nineteen year old had been caught.  I offer no balm but this: speak, listen, hug.

Then, Arugula

I rode the bus to Denver and passed the stadium where Rockies fans were roaring, long after the cows and calves and mountains on route. My friend Cynthia met me and showed me around her town before my reading at Tattered Cover. We visited the site of the Before I Die I Want To______project by Candy Chang, in which we wrote out in chalk, alongside dozens of others, our wishes. Then we took in the art museum, the Public Library, all exteriors as I marveled at the architecture of this city. Udi’s Cafe where pizza with arugula and juices was delicious provided a satisfying meal before the reading at Tattered Cover.  I am still dazzled by events coordinator Pat’s warm welcome, and the deliciousness of Tattered Cover itself, a bookstore for readers and writers. A look at the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit at the Denver Museum of Art as well as its wonderful El Anatsui exhibit.  A city offers riches too much to take in a day, which I suppose is why cities thrive.

Cynthia Morris, Viewing Before I Die Project, Denver, 2013

Cynthia Morris, IG Viewing Before I Die Project, Denver, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Anonymous Couple(to me) in front of Denver Public Library, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Anonymous Couple(to me) in front of Denver Public Library, 2013

Indira Ganesan, El Anatsui: when I Dreamed of Africa,  Denver Art Museum, 2013

Indira Ganesan, El Anatsui: when I Dreamed of Africa, Denver Art Museum, 2013

IMG_0110

Cynthia Morris, IG & Tattered Cover billboard, 2013

Cynthia Morris, IG & Tattered Cover billboard, 2013

Cynthia Morris, IG with Tattered Cover customer & Pat, 2013

Cynthia Morris, IG with Tattered Cover customer & Pat, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Rachel's Flowers, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Rachel’s Flowers, 2013

Marmelade Skies

Indira Ganesan, Back to Boulder, 2013

Boulder is in a bubble, they say. An air-filtered, non-smoking (hurrah!) mostly, vegetarian-conscious, compost-enlightened, spiritually aware and awfully expensive place to live. It has demanding yoga, serious runners, and a farmer’s market that is a good size. I go on and on about this place because I adore it, even if I have had both low and good points there. It is where I am deeply connected because of people in so many walks of life.

Boulder Bookstore

Boulder Bookstore (Photo credit: Jesse Varner)

I read at the Boulder Bookstore to a warm, gracious audience mostly made up of friends. I spoke a    little about myself, feeling oddly tyrannical while standing up holding a microphone. It struck me suddenly that this is a very unnatural thing to do. I went on anyway, self-conscious and feeling slightly ridiculous, because I was speaking to my friends from my notes, my iPad in fact.

A friend generously housed me, others treated me to dinners, and all in all I felt deeply taken care of. I had a chance to visit my favorite cafe and attend a yoga practice to which the instructor kindly remarked, “you have not been practicing in a while, right?” advising an early savasana.

I ran into friends on the street, not having to explain that I’d been away two years. I met fellow writers,and felt embraced. I wrote a happy book in Boulder. How could I not?

Beginning with Marmelade

Indira Ganesan, Sue's Daffs, 2013

Indira Ganesan, Sue’s Daffs, 2013

I have been wondering in the past thirty-eight hours how to begin to unpack my impressions of my first visit back after two years. Finally, I made some toast and jam, and a cup of rose tulsi tea, and now I’ll begin.

Home is one of those words that I use to return to “that which I know where I rest.” For a few days, home has been my friend’s home  where I retired and replenished during my travels in Colorado. I have often spoke of home being the yoga workshop where I once practiced with some diligence among my friends. Home is of course in, South Asian parlance,where my parents live. To say come home means come visit me at home: come [to my} home.

Boulder is home. It is where I am comfortable, and can breathe easy, where things look similar if not quite the same. It is where my friends have like me grown two years older. It is where I run into people I know but don’t quite know, who say, I haven’t seen you in a while, and I say, I’ve been away two years, and because it is Boulder, city of bicycles and slow-moving mountains, that is accepted.

To declare allegiance to one home over another is of course to betray another home, where you have friends, where you are supposed to be making a life. To choose, as Georgia O’Keeffe did in Santa Fe (when I saw it, I knew it was mine) is a form of colonization, for no place really belongs to anyone.

I tried to pay close attention to when I came home to Provincetown, where I live now, but I was caught up in a conversation about other cities, other lives with another traveler, an artist who travels for work. I wanted to know if I felt a stirring, if the sand and marsh were saying, this, too, is home.

I have no conclusions. There is in me a desire to have a home, a permanent city apartment, a place where I can do with less clutter. I know I went to Boulder to see friends and to read from my book, and re-discovered my community.

COLORADO!

Indira Ganesan,Solo Sunflower, 2011

Indira Ganesan,Solo Sunflower, 2011

I’m excited to head back to Colorado for two readings. It is a lovely chance to see old friends and take the book back to where it was mostly written. Maybe it was the extra oxygen, or all that sun, but I lived fully my seven years there, in a gamut of emotions. What I discovered was a treasure trove of friendships, love freely given and given some more. Only by leaving can you often gain perspective on a place, but I was lucky enough to know I loved it when I lived there. Most of the time, anyway. Once I struck up a conversation with a woman at a soup-only cafe on what ‘home” means. How long does it take to make the decision you are at home in a place. Five years was her suggestion. Give any place five years before passing judgment.

I want to write more on this topic of home later, but for now, if you are in the area, please come to these events, for which I am deeply honored to be taking part:

Thursday, April 4, 7:30 pm: Boulder Bookstore, Pearl Street, Boulder, CO: As Sweet As Honey Reading and Q & A

Friday, April 5, 7:30pm: Tattered Cover Books, Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO: As Sweet As Honey Reading and Q & A

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