Here's where I've been for the last ten days (not counting Wednesday, when I dipped back into the pool of reality, going to work, getting my oil changed, going home to the family for the evening):
My bucket is full and my fire is lit.*
By the end of ten days of listening to presentations and readings, workshopping stories and staying up late being literary (ahem), the language center of my brain had overheated and I found myself unable to complete sentences and putting wrong words in wrong places.
This residency was much better than last time--partly due to it being summer, partly due to being less off-kilter having done the routine once before, partly due to meeting new people and getting to know people I met last time better--yet it still felt a bit like a baptism by fire with a necessary swing through the complete range of emotion. It's set up this way so that at the end of ten days you're ready to climb back out of writer's tea in which you've been steeping.
After a tiny meltdown Sunday (oh, my control issues), I went for a swim in the ocean and sat elbow-to-elbow with friends new and old at picnic tables on the edge of the foggy sea, everyone around me cracking into red lobsters while I ate a salad covered in maple syrup (truly the weirdest thing I've eaten in a while). I managed to close down the party, telling the chicken story one last time to the rest of the stragglers (I'm beginning to feel guilty about the amount of mileage I'm getting out of my children's heartbreak).
I came home last night, looking forward to a restful night in my own bed, but the rain that fell (I swear) all night, drummed on an upturned bucket beneath the eaves. I rolled out of bed early and went to the pool before returning to the realm of cubicle and tedium, where no one speaks in the secret code of "What genre? What semester? Who is/was your mentor? Whose workshop?" No one in real life thinks about showing not telling, "being in the dream," tempo and rhythm, beginnings, endings or titles, beautiful sentences. In real life you don't drink beer and eat pizza, or sip wine and chat, or play werewolf games with people whose names grace the spines of actual real books.
When I got home this evening, the boys had returned from a weekend at their grammie's lake house, and they seemed so much louder and whinier than they were before I left. They quickly reminded me that typical dinner table conversation runs more often along the lines of farts than literature. I'm craving a little time of suspended animation, a couple of days in a sensory deprivation tank during which to quietly let the knowledge absorbed over the last week or so to sift and settle into place, stack itself up in preparation for the work ahead.
*It turns out that the quote erroneously attributed to WB Yeats is actually a dumbing down of some Plutarch wisdom, if you can believe what you read on the internets.