2003: I try the Golden Door Spa, but it feels like famine. While I’m there, I do a silent meditation walk, and before I can stop myself, I’m judging the way people walk. We listen to Dave Matthews as Bobby learns how to drive–Ants Marching, Satellite, Crush, Crash Into Me, Tripping Billies… I take Bobby and Jack and Jack’s friend to Washington, DC for a concert. On Sundays starting at four and before they can do anything else, the boys must wash clothes, fold clothes, put clothes away, take up the trash or recycling, clean their rooms, and get their stuff off the steps. They appear to have so little homework that we impose an hour and a half time period in which they must study or at least read. We are torturing them. In June we go back to Nantucket. Instead of the ferry we fly. I have to take a Xanax before getting into the tiny 10-seater Cape Air plane in which Cal has assured me there will be a co-pilot. There is not. This time Sam has his own bike instead of sharing a bicycle for two with Cal. I return to the New York State Summer Writers Institute for a third year, but I go for the first two weeks and take the workshop with Mary Gordon and Marilynne Robinson. Mary sits on the edge of her desk as she talks about how to “saturate a moment.” Marilynne grins as she tells us she reads while she walks her dog, then she gazes into the air above us and talks about Galileo. There are readings by Francine Prose, Michael Ondaatje, Carolyn Forche, Honor Moore, Robert Pinsky, Claire Messud, Anne Beattie, Mary Gaitskill… I feel like I’m on another planet. No triathlons, but for the 9th year in a row, Amandah and I hike the 23 miles of the Pine Mountain Trail–now with the husbands. Kathleen graduates from college and comes home while she looks for a job. The kids are 22, 16, 14, and 10. This is the year of Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto and a big year for the classics—Middlemarch, The Sound and the Fury, Mrs. Dalloway, and To the Lighthouse.
She sees that she has before her an important task: to understand that all the things that happened in her life happened to her. That she is the same person who was born, was a child, a girl, a young woman, and now she is old. That there is some line running through her body like a wick.
Mary Gordon, The Rest of Life