2005: In January I attend the San Diego State Agent Conference. Ten minutes with each agent. Speed dating. Bobby’s a junior and thinks he wants to go to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. We plan a visit for spring break–all of us except Kathleen, 24, who has a job and her own apartment here in Columbus. St. Andrews is old and full of stones and charm. And it’s right on the ocean. We all love it. We spend time in London and Stonehenge. And I can’t get this close to France without a visit. So day trip to Paris via the Chunnel. In May I commute to a workshop at Emory in Atlanta–Jim Grimsley’s “Novel Writing: Living Through the First Draft.” In June Cal and I celebrate 20 years with a trip to Zihuatanejo, Mexico. When I tell the travel agent, I’ve never heard of it, she tells me it’s where they filmed the last scene in The Shawshank Redemption. In July it’s back to Tin House for a workshop with Charlie D’Ambrosio where I learn how to see what my character sees. Hurricane Katrina heads straight for New Orleans, hits it, and for a moment, it looks as if it will be okay. A few weeks later, with Hurricane Rita on the way, Kathleen drives 13 hours to move to Fort Worth. Because of the people displaced by Katrina and evacuating ahead of Rita, there are no rooms within an hour of the interstate all the way to Texas. I spread maps on the kitchen counter as I chart her progress. A new issue of One Story arrives every 3 weeks. I love this journal and renew my subscription. At first I save them all but quickly save only my favorites. I reread Anne Tyler’s Ladder of Years–one of my top 16 of all-time. 74 books this year with the highlights being Dani Shapiro’s Family History and D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love.
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
Pat and I dream of taking a sport vacation, tennis at Wimbledon and then golf’s British Open at St. Andrews. I think he’d worked in something else, but I can’t think what. Sometimes I envision a Jane Austen trip, touring country manors in a long dress, reading on a bench, observing roses. Really I just want those full-English breakfasts in the massive dining room, with Pat waving at me from the other end of the table.
I also feel I must see Stonehenge but then I wonder why–won’t I just go, Yup, that’s Stonehenge, all right–then be exactly the same person I was the few seconds before I saw it? It’s not like I’m going to be surprised by the angles, the balance…! Maybe I hope it will have an ancient vibe that will make me wise.
I remember when One Story came out, too. Such a wonderful idea.
Poor New Orleans. That footage rivaled scenes of 9/11. If Americans had memories longer than an inch, both of those events would have demanded genuine leadership, and we wouldn’t be where we are today. (Dismay is always one or two breaths away from me, these days.)
Top 16? Why 16?
Stonehenge does have an ancient vibe. It’s something to stand there beneath the massive stones and imagine prehistoric people creating this place. It feels mystical and sacred–as if in some way we are communicating with the people who lived all those thousands of years ago. Even Sam at age 11 was mesmerized.
16 relates to my ideal bookshelf. Here was the assignment: Select a small shelf of books that represent you–the books that have changed your life, that have made you who you are today, your favorite favorites. After I selected my books I counted them up–16. [https://catchingdays.cynthianewberrymartin.com/2013/04/22/my-ideal-bookshelf/]
Oh dear, I might have to take this challenge….
I remember having refugees from both hurricanes living here in Conway, AR for a while. My son played baseball in a league in Little Rock, and there was a refugee on his team. Such an interesting time.
I had forgotten that part, Terri. We had people who came to live in Columbus who were displaced by Katrina.