There's something particular about the last week of summer, the way that it casually, lazy as the heat is, eager as it feels to squeeze the last drop of life from the one true season of possibility, sandwiched in between rebirth and harvest, tallies the score.
This year, I decided not to travel, in what I would consider a serious way, a week or more in a place I've not been before (far and away the thing I spent the most money on last year, besides rent and health insurance), and by extension, write, because I only indulge myself when I am in some other place, free of the constraints of daily routine. My source of strength and the cool well of refreshment is the unknown of a new place, especially one that reverberates with possibility, unfamiliar streets untapped. I love walking by the river in Paris, close to the apartment I often rent on Rue de Lille. I live about the same distance from the river in New York, at the very tip of lower Manhattan, although I seldom walk along it. I feel like I already know where it leads.
I said that I would write all year, but I haven't had an experience that I felt came to meaningful fruition. Mostly, I've worked. Glamorous, savored, memorable nights. But that feeling, of seeing the bus pass in Edinburgh, headed to a place called "Hunter's Tryst," or the fabled old streetcar in New Orleans, bound for desire –– I wanna go there –– I haven't enjoyed that luxury in some time. The breathing room of possibility, of leisure, to wander.
I spent a couple of weeks this summer in a seaside village on Cape Cod, and worked the whole time. Joke's on me, I guess. I longed, occasionally, for men I used to know, but less and less as the days went by. I can visualize exactly who's right for me, and I don't want to be busy that night. And it's been a hard year, too. Friends lost. This short life, this tough world. A realization that I can no longer compromise on certain things, primarily giving more of myself than an ordinary person can expect should be returned. Used to be me. I'm different now. More and more, I feel the glimmer of something deep and elemental that I've missed, slowly surfacing, the "me" in me, if only I can nurture it now in a way I didn't even understand before. One year, I went to Reiki every week for a whole summer and the practitioner explained her work as as a subtle energetic shift. The first session, I had a vision of myself as a bride, tumbling dark waves, crimson lips, smiling a knowing grin. For years, I was afraid to cut my hair, that if I didn't grow it out to what I had seen, it wouldn't come true. I know better now, and on my very last night in Provincetown, I cropped it short like a photo I'd seen once of Sara Murphy, looking over her shoulder, swathed in pearls on a beach in the South of France.
I was reading Dubliners the other night, and, in a story about two men acting in bad faith, there it was, a lifeline: Experience had embittered his heart against the world. But all hope had not left him.
Hope is a jewel, worn close. I'm home early, looking at my fall calender, thinking of openings. Maybe this is a subtle year: watch the tide wash back, reflect, let things take shape. That, I can do.