Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Night walks

I took a walk tonight under the moon. For the first time in as many months as I can remember, I did not take my iPod or my cell phone. The cicadas were humming, the grasshoppers chirping. I have always loved the sounds of a summer night. I had forgotten about them.

Everywhere I have ever lived, I have taken night walks. There's something about seeing a city settle, noticing the way shadows gather on lawns, watching the gradation of grey to black in everything from roses to decaying lawnmowers. It seems that every street has its pattern: for each house with its lights off, its shutters drawn, there is another with the doors left tidily open, the TV on, the fan whirring. I love walking past rooms where you can tell something has just been interrupted. I'd like to think it's a form of literary voyeurism; there's nothing like walking in to a story right when a secret gets revealed.

I only walked four blocks, but in that time and space I saw houses that looked like people, their porches worn into wan smiles, their turrets climbing like pigtails. I saw a young black man sitting on a stoop smoking a cigarette in front of a beautiful old restored home. I saw a woman washing dishes. I saw a lava lamp illuminating a store window. I saw trees bigger than I remember them being. I noticed the lean of telephone poles. I passed an elderly Asian man who looked like he was just getting off work. I heard the light rail pass.

I thought about all the things I did today; all the tasks completed, all the food eaten, all the information consumed, all the emails written, all the phone calls made. So much accomplished, and yet it wasn't until I went outside, alone, after the sun went down, that I felt really awake. Really myself. It was both the best and worst feeling, knowing that there are so many stories floating around me, so many things to notice, and regretting the fact that I must have missed so many already, because for some reason it felt more important to plug into someone else's virtual world.

In Fuengirola, I walked for a very different reason. I walked at night because, quite frankly, there was nothing else to do. I walked on Saturday mornings, often going to the end of the Paseo Maritimo before I realized that I'd walked clear out of our little town and to the boundaries - and eventually limits - of the next town over. I'd walk and I'd listen and I'd watch all these people moving, shifting, interacting around me. I spent a lot of time following the beach. I got lost in suburban side streets. Once I got lost in a neighborhood because I recognized a street name from my own barrio - just to realize that the next town over had a street of the same name. These walks furthered that loss of self that comes with leaving where you're from. I wanted to walk into another language. I wanted it to feel clean. I wanted to lay down on the sand and soak it all in. For several weeks, this was how I spent my leisure time.

I realized tonight that when I turn off my iPod, when I silence my cell phone, when I really listen to what's going on around me, the words are already there. I can feel them forming in my temples. There are still so many things to say, and so many ways to say them. There's time to get it all down. I just have to remember to listen.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back to school

This is dedicated to all my teacher friends. I miss having something to go "back" to. Learn good, kids.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lit Up!

This was filmed last month at Lit Up Writers in San Francisco. I hope to be participating in more literary events in the Bay Area now that I am back in my old stomping grounds. Many thanks to Graham Gremore and Jennifer Lou for curating this lovely event.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The thrills of summer

I had a moment of truth today.

Somehow, for two years of my adult life, my primary responsibilities were writing and teaching. And perhaps even more amazing, I spent two summers driving cross country with the best man in the world.

This summer I started working within 48 hours of graduating - and haven't stopped since.

I suppose we all have to grow up sometime.

I realized, though, that often when things fall into place, I have to resist the urge to break them apart. It's an impulse that must go back to childhood - the same feeling you might get when you find an undone seam in your shirt and you want desperately to unravel it all. It's an instinct I only recently realized I have. And now, since I'm a grown-up, I'm resisting it with all my might, because I worked my ass off to get here. The good news is, it has rekindled a creative fire I worried I might lose.

After my first full day at the office, I came home and found this:

This, to me, epitomizes the ideal summer. It was early June and this was our first campsite of many. The day was long but passed quickly. We fell into a leisurely rhythm of driving, hiking, cooking, and sight-seeing. We couldn't predict where we'd be next, and even when we did plan ahead, something more interesting always came along. We were outside most of the day.

As wonderful as that trip was, and as tempting as it is to think longingly of Carlsbad Caverns or beignets in New Orleans or flea markets in Pittsburgh, I have to remember the stress and anxiety that came with uncertainty. That same month I had to transfer from an already expensive insurance plan to the exhaustively expensive HIPAA plan - something I never could have afforded without my family's help. I was about to start graduate school but didn't really know where it would lead me. I was moving 110 miles from my boyfriend. A lot of things were exciting, and a lot of things were scary.

I'm trying hard to remember that when things feel scary, it is often because deep within them lies some new and untapped thrill. And what says summer more than that?

So here's to weekend vacations - to new beginnings - to stable jobs - to sharing an address with the best man in the world. I promise not to rip the seam.