The end of the residency is anti-climactic. Everyone departs at different intervals, most of us hung-over, to catch flights home or drive long hours into the day back to their families, pets, suburban homes. Goodbyes are few and far between, if any at all, since everyone is hard to find. In some ways it is easier to walk away with things left unsaid; it seems more optimistic to trust that we will all keep in touch between now and January when our next residency is. Already a friend emails me: “Was it ten days or two months? I cannot tell.”
Exhaustion chases me into the afternoon like hazy sunbeams. I finally make my way to Celeste’s house in Portland. I will stay here for a day and a half before the flight home. I begin work right away, starting with PF’s collection of short stories. I have to read four literary works, write two short essays, and generate twenty pages of new material by July 6th (then pop it all into the mail to my advisor, priority, so that it lands in the wide open arms of Montana by July 10th).
I am not the same writer that I was two weeks ago. Already I miss the long afternoons and evenings of readings, short discussions, sing-a-longs in the courtyard. I insist on reading some of JM’s poems aloud to Celeste, who listens patiently. Further inspired, I read Dybek’s “We Didn’t” and she laughs along. During the residency I heard more poems, short stories, and essays read out loud than I have heard in at least five years combined. And the caliber of the writing was immeasurable, magnificent, inspired. My ears ring rich with words, silver stories dangle from my lobes, memoirs weave across my heart.