It would be an understatement to say that I live “off the beaten path.” I think that the path peters out a few hundred miles from my house. I spend most days with just the company of my dog, the birds, and the path the sun carves out above the mountains. Don’t get me wrong. I like it that way. I’m a quiet person by nature.
But it can get lonely. Humans are social creatures. Social media has helped quite a bit, bringing me into contact with admired poets and friends that I would only see every few years otherwise. Conferences and residencies also help. So, I attend the AWP conference each year, even though I know people bash it as too commercial, or too too too…. I notice that many of the people who have disdain for it live in places where they can hang out with other writers on any given night. Maybe I wouldn’t care so much either if I lived someplace more easily accessible.
Off I went earlier this month to the Tampa AWP. I held my NEW book in my hand. I signed copies for people I admire. I listened to amazing people talk about writing. I wandered around the book fair and bought a LOT of books. It was overwhelming, but I appreciated all of the smart people and interesting things they had to say. I appreciated eating some amazing food in Ybor City with my very funny and smart and kind friend Kate. I appreciated hanging out with my incredible nephew and his lovely wife and adorable child.
Then I flew back across the timezones for a brief stop home and ricocheted down to San Diego to spend time with my brother and sister. Ever since both of our parents passed away within six months of each other, my siblings and I try to get together at least once a year to hang out and be a family. I always learn something about them, about myself. And I eat good food and drink good beer. We laugh a lot, and we make sure to say I love you.
On the way home, I slept in the Anchorage airport for five hours (what Alaskans do when one plane lands at midnight and the next one takes off at 5:30am). I pulled far back inside myself and watched the disconnected people walk back and forth the length of the terminal. Airports are threshold places anyway, but the two and a half weeks of travel made me feel untethered. Of course, florescent lights make me feel that way under the best of circumstances.
So now, I’m back at home. Back watching the pine siskins skein through the bare alder trees. Back talking mostly to the dog. And I’m tired. I’ve been pulling back on social media like many people have. I’m a little tired of the continual upheaval and drama on Facebook and Twitter, the soft-focus photos on Instagram. Connection fatigue.
I’m still beating the sun up every morning, though that will only be for a few more weeks. I’ve been sitting at my desk reconnecting with what’s inside me. Letting all those words filter down. Reading the poetry books that I picked up at the conference. The poems are bubbling up again. They need both connection and disconnection – planting, growing, harvesting, lying fallow.
I don’t want to withdraw from all social media. I would miss seeing the new books, reading the essays, admiring the puppies and kittens. But if you reach out to me and I don’t respond right away, I might be disconnected. Just for a little while – I’ll be back, I’m just watching the alders consider budding or listening to the owls stake their claims to a corner of the woods.
Besides, next week Every Atom officially goes on sale. You want to hear more about that, don’t you? (The anxiety, the terror, the anticipation!)
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