Three days of driving, Ohio actually looks like postcards of Ivy League Campuses in the fall by the way, and I arrived in one piece. Mostly.
Settled in. Hiked a bit with a local friend on a clean up day, ate breakfast that was really good, and began the transition to writing mind.
Writing mind? I don't know how else to describe it. Something changes in my head when I take time like this to write and be with my own thoughts. Daydreams take hold. Ideas flow. I get really hungry for meat and potatoes (not kale).
Writing mind. Everything becomes a poem. Beauty and sensory becomes intensely present. I am here.
This place though? This is where my Acadie foremothers farmed. This is near where they were banished and exiled to the swamps. The memory of this is in my heartbeat. The heritage and bloodline of Evangeline, may her patience and loyalty and stubborn heartache sustain me.
Fall is a tricky beast. For me at least.
Yesterday I reminded Lily why she needs to be careful of wasps and bees in the fall, why they are more aggressive now: the cold weather triggers winter preparation and part of that preparation is kicking out the weak or worthless fellows so they don't use precious resources for the winter. Those critters in turn try and bring back gifts to the hive as a last ditch effort to convince the hive that they are worth keeping around. Their desperation is what makes them dangerous. Not being part of a family or group unit when the freeze comes is certain death for the individual, but keeping a weak link in the hive is detrimental to the survival of the unit.
This applies to people too, when they become desperate or lonely, they are also most aggressive and dangerous. The holidays compound this with glitter and twinkle lights. Wrap up isolation and heartache with a big red bow.
This year though, I am making a special effort to bring joy into focus and try and capture the sweet moments, the sugar plum dreams, and the wonderland of landscape.
As a special bonus, My ex will have the kids for most of the holidays and I will be writing like a madwoman in Vermont at the Studio Center. I've never been to this region of the United States, though it is a hop, skip, and a boat ride to Nova Scotia where my Arcadian fore-mothers once farmed. I may not be able to resist a weekend trip.
In the meantime, I am writing, packing, sorting, photographing moments, grading papers, and finding solace in the kitchen. I found some top of the line enameled cookware at a local swap shop and cooking is a joy again.
Food. One of the best parts of Prague is the food. I know, Czech food isn't known for flare or fancy, but every meal I have had here has been delicious, well presented, and less than 10$, drink included. Except the Paella top row center- but that wasn't my order and it fed three people.
This week I am set on having dessert every night, but just three days in I am changing my mind on that. I'm just too full from the entree and coffee. I'm not really snacking either.
So far into the trip I am averaging $15/day for food and eating very well. I could do better if I bought groceries and cooked at the dorm, but what fun is that? (Plus, I'd have to buy a pan I can't take home and cutlery/plates.)
If you all have suggestions on dishes to try while I am here, I welcome them!
The first thing in the morning, I head to Cafe Slavia. It is on the 17 tram route, and is half way between the Faculty building and the Professor's flat, right on #9's route too, and old town square is in walking distance. The view out the window is the river and the palace. For me, this is the center of my own poem. Everything moves out from here. The internet signal doesn't work for me here, so I drink coffee and eat breakfast without the digital connection and other people to distract me from my own thoughts.
I've been thinking many things. Daring to hope, dream.
Yesterday, I dreamed again of the pink houses and owls. This time, I was driving between places in an old Ford pick up, blue, like my dad had when I was small. Camera equipment in the backseat, my middle daughter in the passenger seat, and Bluegrass on the radio. Windows down. Adventure.
I see this in my mind clear as anything. I hold it there, cherish it like a lovey. Close.
I really have no idea what my next year will look like. I have never done many of these things. Still, I am moving towards whatever is coming and taking it one today at a time.
What else am I dreaming for myself? What kind of a list can I make? I'm not sure and this part is creating chaos in my life.
I want to make a difference with my art. I want my children to know I was not silent.
I want a little farm house, with a white and yellow kitchen and a red cooking pot. I want flowers in the yard and chickens. I want a wide front porch with a swing. I want music in my life and laughter and faith. I want love. I want words. I want to be heard when I speak and seen for my own humanity. I want to fight and feel it. I want to grow food and care for the land. I want to stand as equal to everyone I enter a relationship with. I want to believe again. Believe in magic and love and trust. Because I know that a white picket fence is no good against monsters, I want to dance with them instead and serve them cake and then send them sugar drunk and spinning on their way. I want magic. I want impossible things. I have to believe that these things are possible with faith and trust and a wee bit of pixie dust. I want to wander until I am found and held close and let go again. I want my heart to stop twisting and wrenching in my chest. I want to dance and sing. I want to breathe. I want to believe.
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
Two weeks left to go in Prague and today I am feeling the weight of alone. Yesterday I visited the cafe I went to in November, my last night before going home. I remembered. I remembered the homesickness I felt, the gratitude for the family and life I was returning to- a loving and faithful husband, three wonderful children, a thriving farm and business, a life of plenty and joy. I sat there, in that cafe, overcome with loss. This time: I will go home to three beautiful children, divorce proceedings, and move to a city apartment.
Life will be good. Just different than what I imagined. In the meantime, I am in Prague. A beautiful city, full of art and music. I am studying poetry at Charles University, the historicity of the craft. I am learning to choose my words, braise them, and let them simmer slow before serving. I am eating well.
I am learning to dream new dreams, impossible ones. But this life will have poetry, art, music, and laughter. So much laughter.
I also refuse to continue living in barren fields, frozen with snow. My new found freedom will take me home, to warm and humid swampland of the South. It is in my blood and I need to go home to heal.
That's what I have been homesick for my whole life: this place where my body and my mind feel the comfort of Southern heat. Someone told me last Spring, "You don't get to be warm here." That moment is when I decided to go home. I will never be warm in Iowa. I am tired of compromises.
In the meantime, here is a preview of a study I did here. Loneliness.
I'm sitting in an airport now. Not the best terminal, I was warned that this one might be like a shitty bus station and it is an apt description. Still, this is starkly different than two years ago, riding the MegaBus cross country.
I'm flying to Prague, not riding cross country to a wilderness island to pretend to be a writer again. This time, I have my camera packed, a month's worth of clothes and books, and a broken heart.
I was asked to write up an "artist's statement" for a grant I was applying for to fund my photography project that I will start in earnest January of 2016. I got caught up in the words. To me poetry and photography are the same blood, a moment, caught in time, framed just so, structure, contrast, saturation, but you still only see what the artist wants you to see. The reader may see a reflection of her own pain or joy too, but it isn't the full picture by any means. Just a postcard in a longer journey.
I don't have a social justice or a political means to my work, at least not yet. I am open to possibilities. This time? This journey? I am documenting my own grief, starting over while holding on to what is essential and vital to my own heart, finding a new way to live this messy beautiful life. I'm looking for miracles. I am looking for myth. I am hunting Athena and Persephone and hope to ask them for wisdom. I'll leave an offering for Saint Barbara and visit the Ursuline convent. I hope to find forgiveness.
I'm scared as hell. I feel shipwrecked all over again. The last time I was in this emotional landscape, I was lost and weary and met an alligator who warned me against love and loss. I took her picture and that photograph landed me in an airport, in New York City, waiting for a plane to take me back to Prague.
This new blog is to share with you what I find.