Monday, July 14, 2008

Cool Things (Or Why I Love Living in Cambridge)

Tonight YG and I went to see Salman Rushdie read at Memorial Church. To quote Ricky Bobby, yes, that just happened. And it was awesome.

He read from his latest novel, The Enchantress of Florence. The church felt like a furnace, it was hard to hear and we were tired and sticky, but the passage itself was beautiful, like a poem. And he was funny and charming.

The highlight of the evening was the last question he answered. A student (I believe) asked about what advice he might have for aspiring writers, and I'm paraphrasing here, but he said something along the lines of 'if you don't have that burning need to say something, to write something, don't write."

And I felt reassured, because I have never doubted that I am supposed to be a writer. It's what I am. It's who I am. I've never developed any alternative life plan. I have a career and for the most part, I enjoy it and it pays the bills. But it's not what I'm supposed to be doing. I have it -- that burning need to say something. And I'm going to figure out what that is.

After the reading, YG and I walked to Border Cafe and had margaritas (on a Monday. How decadent) and one of those talks that you love having but leaves you teary and drained. We talked about how our collective baggage (old and most heart-breakingly recent) makes life difficult for us and how it's sometimes just hard to even breathe. But we also talked about how greatful we are for the people we have met in passing in all the different arenas of our lives. He met a woman on the plane from San Francisco that he was able to talk to for hours, and I told him a story that I'd never mentioned before. About an old man that we met at Dunkin Donuts about a year ago. We sat down and talked to him for a while. He was in his 80s and owned his own store in the area and had a bunch of daughters and was talking about what a great life he had. The timing of this conversation was right after my grandfather had died, and I was feeling homesick. When I listened to the man in the Dunkin Donuts talk about his wife and his daughters, I had this feeling that it was my grandfather speaking through him. It's hard to explain. It doesn't make any sense, but I just felt it. Like a presence. And of course I didn't tell anyone, because hello? Freak. But tonight seemed the right time. I also remembered a short essay I wrote in college about "the angel Aurora," about a woman that Naomi, Josh, Erik and I met on the overnight train through Spain. It's been 12 years since that trip and I still feel like I met that woman for a reason and that I was meant to stay up all night talking to her about where I might end up.

I'm straddling the line between greatful and meloncholy tonight. I'm thankful for where I live and my friends and YG and to all the people who have seemingly just passed by for visits, and I'm sad that I don't know how to say it all. But at the same time, KNOW that I have figure out how to say it all.

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