Lied Lodge & Conference Center. Nebraska City, Nebraska. July 22, 2018.
Over the course of the past two years, I have lived at the Lied Lodge for fifty days during five residencies framing four semesters while I pursued my MFA in creative writing with people who have become my closest friends, who have become my new family filled with such love and life, filled with such passion. The UNO MFA faculty and students alike have helped me find my way, not only in my writing life but in my whole life. Packet deadlines. Reading lists. Email messages. Conference Calls. A path carved out and a guiding hand.
Today I drove away from this place and these people I love so much. I’m a graduate now, they say. This is only the beginning, they say. It’s a time for celebration, they say. And I know it’s true. Still, my heart aches for what I leave behind. And I wonder at this path that stretches out before me, bending out of sight.
When we moved into our new home recently, I had an idea of what life would be: crisp, sunny mornings on what we call the coffee deck, sipping the perfect hazelnut cup with a Dove dark chocolate square melting in my mouth while I read inspiring words by one of my favorite authors or write longhand in a journal or sketch out a rough draft on my laptop or pen a thoughtful note to a friend in a witty or lovely or heartwarming card. I would take the next year off from the real-world of working full-time on someone else’s schedule and focus on my health and my family and my writing. I wouldn’t feel rushed or stressed or lost or lonely. But in reality, it’s taking weeks to unpack, it’s rained almost every day since we arrived, and it’s after dark when I finally sit down at the cluttered kitchen table to coax a few stubborn words from my fingertips. Despite my intentions, I accepted another full-time job. It will offer me many benefits, but time is not one of them.
This is not what I had planned. Still, when I step out on the deck and look past the pergola, the night stretches out before me, promising tomorrow.