As Sweet As Honey

Back at the Ranch

Indira Ganesan, Ocean with jasmine plant, 2014

Indira Ganesan, Ocean with jasmine plant, 2014

 

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.

 

Indira Ganesan, weather watchers

Indira Ganesan, weather watchers

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.

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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.

Indira Ganesan, So Comfortable, 2014

Indira Ganesan, So Comfortable, 2014

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.

The Weight and Thing of a Book

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As I look over my blog posts, I realize I have posted about events, and cartons, and what’s coming up, but I have not really spoken of what it feels like to have a book published.

It feels good.

There were many, many revisions that were worked over. There are notes I’d write about possible ways the book could go.

I want to tell you about the book. I want to tell you how it feels in my hands, the subtle texture of the cover, the deckled pages, the soft cream thick pages.

My scribblings started in 2001,or maybe 2002, while living in Sag Harbor, NY. I had an apartment in a house on Richard’s Drive, in an area described in this wonderful book. In the midst of a long tortuous tale of a woman on the precipe of her fortieth year, wondering about marriage, about death, I wrote, “Mina’s aunt Meterling was amazing.” In four lines, I described Meterling’s wedding, and continued write about Mina.

After watching rock climbers on extreme sportsTV, I wanted to change my life, transform it. So I visited Boulder, CO, and wound up moving there in 2004. I never learned to rock climb, or bike, swim, or run. I discovered a form of yoga I loved, taught in a number of universities, and after a low,angry period which needs its own blog post, I emerged with a book. For three years, I wrote and revised, and then was faced with the need to move for work. My book had been submitted but no word on its future. I packed up my life in Boulder, my seven-year love affair with a town and its people, and moved to the place where I am now, Provincetown. One month before I arrived, the book was accepted.

I exchanged hundreds of emails with my editor, and combed through three copyedited versions, each time feeling happy I had something tangible to do. I attended webinars on media presentations, googled variations of “what to expect when expecting a book,” and waited. The cover arrived. Hurrah for Christopher Silas Neal and Carol Devine Carson! A decision had to be made about which butterfly to let flitter in the pages. (I get butterflies!) Did I like the typeset used to mark the first letter of each chapter?I did.

The bound galleys arrived. A list had to drawn of people to send the book to, in case they wanted to read and comment. A copy of the actual book arrived. The heft of the thing, the feel of it.

A crate of books arrived. I had to vacuum, I had to do the laundry, the dishes. It was publication day, and I was by myself. But Friday, there was a party, and a reading in a few days. My new students are happy at my news of a book, and my old students call to congratulate. There is suddenly more to do, even as the car battery fails, as a snowstorm if followed by another.

Today I heard a woodpecker that drove me outside to see if I could spot it. I opened the screened door and heard birdsopng in what seems like such a long time. I am sick with a cold, but my book is somewhere on a bookstore shelf. I will get my first glimpse on Tuesday night. This really is a dream come true.

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