I threw myself from six months in Europe to a summer at home – just two months – and now I’m heading back for my final year at IU in Bloomington. I got a letter from my writer friend in the middle of June, just after I’d gotten home, when I was thinking that home wasn’t the place of excitement and movement in which I really wanted to be.
She is a friend I always admire for being so independent and self-made, having her own writing circle and working always away from home, even if it’s just in a café. She wrote “enjoy the particular splendor of a hometown summer.” I think I read that sentence three or four times before I moved on to finish the letter. I memorized it. I read it to my mom. My free-spirited friend was envious of my being home, and this changed my thinking completely.
I started thinking about it all the time. It really is a particular splendor, to sit at the edge of an empty lake and to hear the “Bob White” birds, which I heard this summer for the first time in a few years. “Watch for deer” is a totally indirect phrase of endearment spoken here that is so strangely loving that I can hardly stand it.
I’ve been running a lot, on a dirt road like a hallway with a wall of corn and a wall of woods. I’ve been bored half the time, restless and ready to move, but I know I might be missing boredom soon. When will I next have the chance to be bored?
Next summer, the goal is to be away from home, working in a city, any city that decides to give me opportunities to write as I want to. I’ll start looking and applying for jobs – real career jobs! – in September and October, and then throughout the winter.
I have no idea where I’ll end up, but I never realized until this summer how much I carry my hometown with me. I look through all my writing, and I see so many things that I wrote down without thinking that are plucked straight out of my subconscious memories of here. I find nature everywhere, and lake people, and my family members. One professor told me that he wishes he could write nature like I do, and I told him about where I grew up.
I don’t plan to come back, not for good. I can’t see my creative career in my hometown at all, but my hometown is the blood of my creativity. In the quiet it provided, I became imaginative.
I know that if I’m successful, home will still be in my writing, mixed up with all of my new homes and experiences. I also know that if none of it works and I come crashing down to square one, that coming home for a while will still end up being a particular splendor, and maybe you will hear from me again.
If my plans flop, I’ll come home to recharge before trying it all again. This is likely to be my last summer at home, and I think I needed it.