2012: After I give my lecture and reading, I start making the changes to my first novel that my agent (late addition to yesterday’s post) has requested, Tori Amos’ Silent All These Years and Regina Spector’s Us on repeat. Cal comes to Vermont for graduation. When I get back home, I put my feet up and breathe. I’m exhausted. Burned out. And I’m getting headaches and visual migraines. I need to stop doing so much. At AWP in Chicago, I go to a book launch party for Cheryl Strayed. She wrote the January 1 essay in the How We Spend Our Days series. For my birthday Cal and I go to Seaside and stay in a honeymoon cottage. I resign from Contrary. In May Cal and I go to Fort Worth for Mack’s first birthday, and Jack and Sam graduate within hours of each other on opposite coasts. We split up so both have a group to cheer as they walk across the stage. Wedding emails and texts are flying. In June I stop submitting to the writing group but will still read the other submissions, and I head to Provincetown to finally stay in one of the Days Cottages at the top of this blog. I fall in love–their retro feel, the screen doors, the line of roofs that never seems to end, the way I can look out at PT. In July I make my first trip to Maine. August is a wedding party for Bobby and Claire in Birmingham. Sam has chosen Davidson, so in the fall I get to head back to North Carolina to my alma mater. And just like that—a f t e r 3 2 y e a r s—no lights leak from under doors of children’s rooms. I have made it to Part Five. The first week and the last week of September I go back to Provincetown, staying in the Days Cottages both times. In October I clean out the attic, have lunch in NY with my agent, and see Crosby, Stills, and Nash at the Beacon Theater with Cal. In November I do a two-week residency at Ragdale. The rectangular Playroom, which is my room, has a round window and stairs to a cupola, where I work. When I’m done with a page, I launch it down the stairs. President Obama is re-elected. I resign from Hunger Mountain. After Christmas Bobby and Claire get married in a very cool brewery with little white lights strung across the ceiling and a CD wedding favor with a playlist of their favorite songs, some of which become mine. The Alabama Shakes’ I Found You, Ingrid Michaelson’s You and I… 48 books this year–back to back reads of Rachel Cusk’s The Bradshaw Variations topping the charts. My agent sends my first novel to 18 editors, and some love it but no one enough. My parents begin to need help with things. I listen to so many wonderful but random songs this year–Yael Meyer’s Shed Their Fear, Amos Lee’s Windows Are Rolled Down, and Lucy Schwartz’s I Don’t Know a Thing…
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