‘Air and light and time and space’ (and the occasional lilac ukulele)


Lately I’ve been thinking about writing. Eileen knows this and so in the top drawer of my desk is an anthology she loaned me, interviews with women writers conducted by The Paris Review. There’s this moment during a conversation with Maya Angelou—

Most people don’t grow up. It’s too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older….They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they don’t grow up. Not really. They get older. But to grow up costs the earth, the earth. It means you take responsibility for the time you take up, for the space you occupy.

Lately I’ve been trying to figure out how to be a grown-up and a graduate student and a writer at the same time and why those categories sometimes feel mutually exclusive. Right now my desk is covered in red-penned poem drafts, an article for my Schleiermacher paper, a book of essays On Managing Yourself from the Harvard Business Review (that one’s wedged into a corner), a French textbook I haven’t looked at in weeks, some vitamin D supplements (thanks England), and a book about nuns and coming of age recommended to me by Conor (an excellent title recommender it seems).

Lately I’ve been thinking about the wonder in all of this. In walking into our office on late, rainy nights to the glow of lamplight at Michele’s and Wentao’s desks. In the frequently painful but also spectacular process of growing up. In the crisped-up points of the leaves on my ivy plant (a gift from Kristen). In Weil and Kierkegaard. In the lilac ukulele that Karolina (an Ertegun alumna) dropped by to show me last week. In poetry.

Lately I’ve been wanting to be more than I’m being, which is to say that I want to write. My desk is making this possible. It keeps me accountable for my time and my space. I may be dreading the revision of my introductory paragraph, unsure of how to craft the next bit of dialogue, or scared that I won’t say anything at all. But when I sit down and turn on the (very fancy) light—when I show up—the work happens. To have this (hi Bukowski) air and light and time and space is a privilege, and I am determined to answer to its gift.