Back at the Ranch
The need for a place to settle down, sigh into the space, and make plans to leave and return are part of the appeal of “home.” Luckily, I have another year to hang my hat to remain in the same place. As a writer or artist, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown provides temporary low-cost housing to Former Fellows to move back to town and produce work. Five artists do just that, writing and painting in a beach community known for supporting the arts since the time of the Provincetown Players and Eugene O’Neill. Readers of this blog know how I applied for a lottery, and had my name drawn out of a hat to live here, how I packed out and moved from my beloved community in Boulder because I no longer had a job. Many times the first year and second year, I wondered if I had made the right choice. I planted a garden, admired the landscape, watched my novel get published, began a new job, fostered kittens and their mom, lost a friend to cancer, and struck a deer with my car. By the time 2014 rolled around, I was waiting to hear from various job applications, grants, and the Work Center. The spring passed in a blur of waiting and uncertainty, as I wondered what plans I could make for the fall, if I could make plans.
I raked Craigslist looking for apartments in Boulder, in Cambridge, In Boston. I looked at Princeton, and wondered if I should move back home to my aging parents. Several bored nights, I wondered if I should pull up stakes for England, or France, or Italy, go to India. Behind all this question was the unspoken thought: where can I write? People say one can write anywhere and at any time, but I think a writer needs an anchor, a place so familiar and unbothered that one can lose oneself in the words. Hotel rooms work, if they have a view, but I have never had more than a few days day at one. I have to live somewhere for three years before I trust it enough to venture forth with cohesion onto the page. I don’t mean I do not write at all; I write constantly, but bits and pieces., but the long narrative, for me, requires me to trust my environment completely.
Just a few days ago, I found out I had another year in my home, a delight. It is an earned year, a year to write, a year to teach a course on American Women Writers, a subject close to my heart, and whatever else might fall my way or I reach for with aim. It is a year to contemplate the next move. A year to see if any dahlias other than the one so far will sprout, a year to water the plans and plants. A year for the cats to turn another year over, and a year for me to appreciate every day of it.