Tuesday, December 19

I Part New York

So my first semester of grad school in New York is done. Right now I'm in my old bedroom in my parents' house in South Carolina, having just arrived last night. Outside, it is sunny, cloudless, and 70 degrees. Unbelievable. I woke up around eleven, my parents are downstairs, my dog is lying somewhere in the sun, and everything is where it should be and correct in the world.

And yet, I'm still tired. Everyone I know asks me questions. How I'm doing, how do I like grad school, how is it being in an MFA. And I feel strangely inarticulate. I tell them, "I've gotten a lot of work done", but don't explain. I've been productive -- madly productive, more productive than I've ever been in my life. I have read a lot, written even more, drank and talked even more than that -- MFA programs will do that to you. There are people who complain about the cost of the MFA (particularly one like Columbia), but I feel pretty decent about what I've been doing to try to make it more affordable worth its cost. I've been applying for positions at literary magazines. I've been interviewing for instructorships. I've been teaching high schoolers in Harlem. I've been writing pages and pages of short stories, some of which I feel (well, at least hope) may be publishable.

But I feel frazzled. I feel stressed. I feel tired. Perhaps it's just the nature of living in New York, that great exhauster of the ambitious. Joan Didion was right in "Goodbye to All That". In our most ecstatic moments, we are simultaneously lifted and yet, weighted. We brave the teeming crowds on every street in Manhattan, the neon of Times Square, the Subway. In packed clubs and bars downtown we flail our taut young bodies against others, tauter, younger. That is the nature of the city: here someone is always smarter, better-looking, funnier, more solemn, brighter, darker, more willing to stoop, less willing to stoop, richer, poorer, more cunning, more charming, more talented, more accomplished, harder-working, more indefatigable, more willing to sacrifice. Here someone is always better. And that's why we're rushing and chattering. Multi-tasking and doing, doing, doing. Planning to conquer everything we have seen and ever will. I sit here hundreds of miles away and think about how much I am in love with that shiny place and how temporary that love really is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like your blog. It's so engaging!

"All I mean is that I was very young in New York, and that at some point the golden rhythm was broken, and I am not that young anymore."