Tuesday, June 27, 2006

You Live, You Learn, and sometimes, You Leave

It's been a while and I will tell you why: I am falling to pieces. Maybe not a million little pieces, but enough so that I will write about it someday and maybe even tell the truth. Right now I am reeling with a toxic combination of anxiety, stress, overwhelmed-itis, worry, fear, and I suppose, a dash of excitement.

Next week, I will leave behind my dear husband and even dearer children to attend a 12-day, "low residency" session in the Masters of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing graduate program in which I am enrolled. At first, the idea of spending 2 weeks, twice a year, for 2+ years, away from meal-planning, nose-wiping, and playdate-supervising, seemed bliss indeed. To spend those days, alone, but with others, doing nothing but talking about writing, writing, and learning about writing, alongside others who are also writers and novelists and poets and memoirists -- well, what could be bad about that?

I'll tell you. The reality of actually going. Let me be clear, I want to go -- yes, especially after I applied to 6 grad programs, got accepted by 4 and chose the one whose facility for this course overlooks a beach and bay. Yes, I want to go. But what was I thinking? My youngest son is awash in sadness and I have not yet packed. My oldest is disconcertingly supportive.

Who did I think I was, chasing my heart's desire, when theirs are not yet fully formed? How did I think, at my old age (46), I could keep up with the work volume I now know is expected? What made me think I could live without their noise and goofy grins and hugs? (Yes, even the pre-teen boy still hugs, and fiercely) Where did I think I'd find the time, the mental space to think creatively, create and contemplate others' creative work? And that's not all.

What will happen when, in three years, the student loans (once just an abstract notion) start requiring repayment, and there I am with my artsy degree and no headhunters calling, and my oldest child's college bills looming just three more years after that? Anyway, now I understand that the price of those 2 weeks was not to be found on those student loan papers at all, but in the heart? That loss always accompanies growth?

Sure, I will go. I will learn and challenge myself and I am hopeful I will succeed, and I may fail, but I will learn. And my children will survive, and maybe grow. And I will write about it. Someday.

Meanwhile, can you tell me how to explain to my husband that's it is not just about the best time to call the pediatrician, and which friends can swim, and which cereal to never run out of, but all the rest -- all that resides in my heart and memory and behind my eyes, everything that no one else can ever know, but that my children know, in their hearts, that I know? How do you leave that in a refrigerator note?


Mary Tsao said...

Congratulations on being accepted into this program! It sounds wonderful. Just think what you can do with that time and that mindset! What a great opportunity.

I'm sure that once you get there, you will forget about what's going on at home although that might not make you feel better when you stop and think about it. But I believe this is important for your professional development (it would be for mine) and who knows, maybe even good for your family's growth, too.

I do hope you write more about your transition. Most moms have to go through it and I suspect it's rarely easy.

Frank Baron said...

Have faith in your husband.

Looking forward to your coming-home report.