For Wednesday – Day 1 AWP
Cass flew in from Portland and we hit the ground running. Five hours to Atlanta for AWP and as we pull up to the Super 8 her publisher calls on the cell saying yes, yes, come to the CMLP party and we are quick-snap checked into the room, then off on foot to the Hilton for schmooze, free booze, and the lot.
There are suits and heels, couples and hair – and how clichés is it that I’m the writer writing about it all from the corner of the room?
“You need to relax.” Cass says it like a maxim and I know she’s right. “You escape by working and it’s productive so people commend you for it.”
I smile, down the remainder of my complimentary merlot and say, “You know me. So call me on it. Help me with this one Cass.”
Amidst the crowd and chatter, small talk of who-its and whats-its, she promises.
On the way back to the Super 8, tipsy but more tired than anything else, the skyscrapers loom like phosphorescent bats and we must walk past ten cops in five city blocks. I have not slept through the night since Sunday, the darkness grating on me like an unfinished thought. It’s easy to taper the edge of sanity when every walking, breathing, standing person at the conference appears to me like a distinct bundle of energy. Everything is moving in circles.
AWP has 26,000 members. You’ve got to yield part of your existence over to neurosis if you are in this writing gig for the long haul. So be it. The trick is not letting the sacrificial part get the best of what’s left of you.
I’ve just seen more people than I saw all winter back home. The city is elastic to me, stretching beyond the limits of reason alone and into the land of I-Don’t-Want-It and Save-It-For-The-Masses and Good-God-Get-Me-A-Solid-Night’s-Sleep or some respite from the social doo-rag, persnickety, ambling, rambling, talkative mess.
“You need to relax,” Cass interrupts my daydream.