Portland / Transition / Tucson / Writing

The End of Spring

Spring has a pastel, colored-egg reputation for being about new beginnings. For the last few years, however, I’ve found that my springs mark endings. Although you can’t have something end without a new reality taking its place, the finality of what’s going away makes a much deeper impression on me than what’s stepping up to take its place. Maybe that’s my problem; too much nostalgia and wistfulness that keeps me glancing back instead of pushing forward.

Two springs ago I graduated from the Pacific MFA program, time that lives as The End of School instead of The Beginning of Independence. I remember being ecstatic for the future at that point, of discovering new people and viewpoints outside of the cozy nest of grad school. But as time wears on, and the writing life island feels more and more marooned out at sea, I gloss over the annoying (or at times, infuriating) bits of grad school and long for what my mind has built up as The Golden Age.

One spring ago, I left Portland. No, I didn’t Arrive in Tucson. That was the chasm that created BC and AD in my life, a division I use to carve up my identity and happiness, again in the black-and-white tones I insist on drawing with. My pestilence knows no shades of gray. I Love Portland. I Hate Tucson. To admit to anything else would betray my position.

As if daring me to think obtusely, this spring’s ending isn’t as easy to define or divide. I seem to be at the end of projects. I’ve placed most of my recent work and watched it go up and then fade from the constantly churning consciousness. I ended my Hobart series, The Games of My Youth, on its natural stop note (which killed me, because I love it, but I can’t stand the thought of beating a dead horse). It feels like time to start something New, especially with my hours unexpectedly cut at work, and the discovery of the most perfect coffee shop in the world (yes, in Tucson. See? Non-absolutes? I’m trying to try).

I’m just not sure what to do with myself. I don’t have a new book in my heart right now, and I’m still waiting on the old? new? one. I’m stalling out on new essays, and even simple tasks like book reviews or pithy food articles are making me draw a blank. A giant, terrifying blank. What do I say? What do I have to say or contribute? Is the answer nothing?

I’m as bad with uncertainties as I am with non-absolutes. Right now, though, my life is crammed with them. I don’t know what will happen with my book. I don’t know where I’ll be living next month. I don’t know what will be the spark that ends my dry spell, my block, my funk. My doubt.

While I try to work on my work, I am trying to accept grace. Gracefully accepting disappointment, gracefully moving on, gracefully allowing the process to work without wearing myself down trying to make it work the way I think it should. I am not the type of person who can sit on her hands, but there’s work to do around the questions. You can still improve yourself while you’re in limbo. I think. Maybe? I’ll try. I want to be ready for something fresh to begin. I want to be better when that happens.