Wednesday, March 30, 2011

match (day) madness: part two -- the silence

At first we celebrated.

Not having to undergo the Scramble is pretty amazing, right? No last-minute interviews, no last-minute stress. Someone wanted Derrick. Someone on his list of ten schools had said yes. Yes, I want this young man in my program. Yes, I choose him over the others.

And so we celebrated.
We gorged ourselves on cheap oysters and $1.25 beers. Derrick told anyone within earshot he had a job--after ten years of higher education, he had a job. It was exciting. We laughed, we chattered to strangers, we grinned like fools from ear-to-ear.

Then we got home.

Home was quiet. Dark. Settled. And we both heard all too loudly the click and whir and plod of the clock with sixty hours to tick away before we learned where he was going.

Derrick had a job, sure.

But where?
Baltimore? Boston? Worcester or DC? Richmond or NYC? Gainesville or here in Norfolk?

Derrick wanted Baltimore or Boston. He'd be okay in Worcester or Richmond. DC or NYC for a shoreside surfer with a large German Shepherd? It'd be a stretch, sure, but he could do it, right? He'd learn to live with the commute times, the constant stretch of city, the cold shoulders of passerbys.

And then there were the safeties. Gainesville. Beth Israel in Manhattan. Staying here at EVMS.

And then there was me.

We'd already agreed to give it a year. We had too much invested, too much planned. I can write anywhere, right? I'm a gypsy. I adapt. I can live anywhere. In a house by the beach, in a ramshackle row home in the bad part of town, in the suburbs, on a boat, in a shack, in a cardboard box. But with every second that clock ticked away I'd picture my life in a new city.

Baltimore, exiting a painted brick cafe with a black coffee and tattered manuscript in hand.

Boston, with legs crossed on the T, camera slung on a shoulder, heading to a lecture on Virginia Woolf.

Commuting to NYC with Kindle in hand, savoring Susan Orlean or John McPhee.

I was so clear in each of these city fantasies; I wore a checked chenille scarf in Boston, gray suede boots in NYC, dangling feather earrings in Baltimore. Each one was this beautiful urban Bohemian fantasy, where I'd sit at my typewriter and write stories that snagged the heart the way a calloused hand catches satin, poetry that closes with firm fingers around the throat. I would make the knitting needles pause, the jackhammers quiet. I'd hush the songbirds, turn the head of the harshly lined lawyer, make the stirring cook sigh with pleasure.

And I'd do it all from the window seat of my North End apartment, my yellow house in Baltimore with the chipped paint, my cluttered townhouse outside the NYC city limits. Heavy dreams, but I could see them all so clearly---

Then there was the rest.

Worcester, Mass. Easily commutable to Boston. A little pretentious, a little boring. Not ideal, but managable.

DC. Terrifying. Harsh. Gray suits and black heels. Laughing party girls, silenced museums. Cunning, skilled, fierce ambition. Intimidating as hell, but manageable--especially if we lived outside of Baltimore and commuted in.




For the last three I saw nothing. I'd never been to Richmond, couldn't judge it. I knew there was a theatre scene, rich history, tall white Southern buildings, charm. But I've lived in Virginia for almost three years now. Too long. I'm ready to ramble on, set my eyes on someplace new, explore, live in a new world. I've tired of this one.

I could imagine staying here, but barely. My sights have been trained on the mysterious unknown for months now, waiting for the envelope to be opened to tell me my new home. I couldn't imagine opening it to reveal...nothing. Same apartment, same town, same life, a long stretch of endless sameness with no discernible end.

Yet I latched on to Gainesville as the worst possible outcome. I'd been to Gainesville. It was gorgeous. It was warm. It was friendly.

Even the trash cans are owned by the university
It was my worst nightmare. It was a college town. Not "a college town" as in a town filled with dive bars and college students, but a town run completely by the University of Florida. A town existing solely for the purpose of the university. It would be hot. Without beaches, without water. I'd sit in my 1960's one-level home and I'd write and I'd wait. For four years, I'd wait.
I can't write like that.
I can't live like that.

I'll find something, I told Derrick brightly. Wherever we go.

I wondered if I was lying.

Gets a lot worse before it gets better, kids. Tune in tomorrow for a train wreck of brutal honesty, heavy drinking, and self-destruction... or as I like to call it, Part Three.


  1. Oh the suspense is killing me. Bet it killed you too.

  2. ACK!!! You can't end it here!!! Start writing and posting, immediately! I can't stand it! Gah!!!

    You can bet I'll be back tomorrow for more. Of course you totally planned it that way, didn't you? That is so EEEE-VILLL!!! (But I'm still impressed...) :)

  3. AAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! This is agony. For me. I guess it's hard for you too, huh?

    I am sure Gainsville is very nice! You can suffer for your art! You can revolt against your surroundings.


    (Is that what you wanted to hear???)

    You promise to post Part III tomorrow, right???

  4. I thought that the suspense of waiting for part two was intense! Oi! I'm eagerly awaiting the next entry, darlin'. Good thing I broke reinforcements.

    *opens another bottle of Tequila*

  5. Just south of Gainsville is where I grew up.....and escaped! Good luck. Compared to where I was from Gainsville is "the big city" you will survive.

  6. I'm loving every single line of this story.

  7. I'm pulling for Boston, but it's close to my heart. Worcester would be fine, really. You'd find something to stimulate you amid all the New Englandy-ness of it.

    I think DC would have appeal, too. Look past the politics to the culture and the history and you'd be inspired there, too.

    And the South is always charming enough for a writer to find big ideas in small stories about human nature.

    But, Gainesville?

    I can't wait to read the next bit.

  8. Vandy- ACK! You have no idea. Well, I guess you do, because you've been reading along.
    Mary- I will find something wherever I go. I will find something whereever I go. I will FIND SOMETHING...
    Kat- You better have brought enough tequila to share with the rest of the class, missy.
    Rebecccccca - Hey, I'm from little old farm country. Think small-town, cow-tipping, one-stoplight kinda town. Where are you from in FL?
    Jenna- I grinned like a madwoman when I read your comment. Thank you.
    Nicole- I'm pulling for Boston, toooooo! I'll visit your old stomping grounds and take lotsa pics.

  9. I've lived in several of your options and I think you have the pecking order about right.


    You couldn't have tried for a hospital in London??

    Can't wait for tomorrow, kitten.

    Good luck.

    - B x

  10. Oh MA-GAWD, this is torturous. However, I think ti is so exciting to go somewhere new with the handsome doctor. You could be stuck in the small town Rockies...37 years old with a struggling blog and a fledgling consulting business. Wait a minute...

    Can't wait to find out!

  11. I love how you could picture yourself in the different cities you want, and I love that you described it. I'm late, of course, but better late than never!

  12. :/ Gosh this waiting is torturing for even me! I can't imagine what it must be liek for you!


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