Calendars are inexorable things. There are times when I think they hang on walls just to mock me. The one beside my desk is a Hark, A Vagrant! calendar, so at least I’m being mocked by the best. They remind me how swiftly time moves. My only work is my writing, when I have the focus to do it. It’s not on a schedule, so half the time I don’t even know what day it is unless I have an appointment scheduled. When I look up at the calendar I’m surprised, because wasn’t it just June a few days ago? Was I supposed to be doing something today?
I check the calendar on my phone. No, today really is November 8th. I have 33 days to wrap up my life here, tie up my loose ends, say goodbye to those I can actually see before I get on a plane. 33 days to make sure my apartment is empty. 33 days to deal with utilities and notices and sorting and selling the last of my things.
33 days to wonder who I will be when I step off the plane.
Many years ago, I wrote a poem called Reefs.
we grow in reefs
moment on moment
image on image
touch upon touch
we are congregations of experience
each memory leaves its sign
its fossil trace
we are colonies of memories armored with our past
the way you breathe
the twining of your fingers with mine
we grow in rings
encircled by time by stars by the moving
we are touched by fire
each memory bends us
like fingers in clay
strong as moving water
we mould ourselves around them
our shapes are the shapes of trees on the rocks of a deserted shore
bowed by the hand of the hard north wind
we are spells of making we are words
we are ancient magic
the sum of memory
we grow like roots in stony ground turning
on rough pebbles
we are shaped by love and terror and the sweet depth of longing
we are memory
below the surface of our lives
we grow in reefs
This place has shaped me and left its mark in me and on me. The friends I have made and the people I love and my experiences here have been the wind and water that have formed what I have become in the last three decades and more. But when I step away from this place that has so strongly affected me, who will I become? When the context in which I have spent so many years is removed, who is left? What remains? What part of me is defined by Seattle and what part is defined by the core of my being? What part will be defined by Italy, reshaped and sea-changed? Will my eyes become pearls? Will I become coral, sharp-boned and beautiful?
I hope this blog can be a conversation with you, who are reading my words. I have so many questions and muddled thoughts, so many hopes and fears, so much formless, breathless excitement, and very little knowledge to go on right now. I’ve had a short visit to Italy, conversations with my brother, and a lot of poking around on the internet to shape my initial perceptions. I know that my experiences when I step off the plane will be different than what I might imagine right now. I’m trying to go into this with as few preconceived notions as possible. Consider this an invitation to sit with me, to have a cuppa, to speak around the table and be heard.