Tomorrow is a big deal for me, personally and professionally. I’m returning to the place where I truly, finally found myself. In a way, I’m going home.
Until I graduated high school, I was a frequent performer: plays, musicals, hosting events, acting in videos for our school television station, recording radio ads, interviews, blah and blah. I liked showing off in front of people, I guess. I liked entertaining. I liked being in the center of things for a change.
That all disappeared after graduation. It was a lost love, a forgotten passion, for four-plus years. I never even thought of it.
I returned to college after a two-year sabbatical in the fall of 2007, and one of the first classes I took was Crystal Wilkinson’s Intro to Creative Writing. Returning to school, I knew this—creative writing—was what I wanted to do, so I jumped in with both feet. I didn’t know that Crystal made her Intro kids perform publicly at the end of the semester.
The reading was at CoffeeTree Books in Morehead—their old location, the one that flooded way too much. I showed up way too early. I chugged way too much coffee. I paced for way too long. Crystal was there, of course, and the chair of the English Department, which was cool, and my mom, which was sweet.
I was nervous, shaky (kinda like now, just not lithium-induced). Most of my classmates didn’t really worry about it, at least visibly. I just couldn’t help myself. To recover this thing I loved, that I had lost, tossed away in the throes of depression and cigarette smoke, thought gone and unrecoverable.
That reading was a bridge from an old life and a new one, a bridge of really mediocre poetry leading from the charred remains of journalism awards, National Merit shits, and leadership medals to walking paths and roadways lined with blank pages and ink pens, unopened books, new people, optimism.
Tomorrow, I finally get to launch my book, The Leper Dreams of Snow, after fourteen months. I’m so proud of this book—more and more each day, actually. I’ve waited just too damn long to celebrate it, thanks to almost dying and the never-ending recovery/relapse cycle. And I’m so incredibly thrilled, stunned, flabbergasted to have my book launch party at CoffeeTree Books in Morehead, damn near twelve years to the day of that initial poetry reading. This reading, this book, they’re a new bridge, I think—a bridge from incubation, from discovery, to true by-god living.
If you’re in the area tomorrow, November 6, at 6pm, I’d love to see you. Susan and Grant would love to see you. The universe would love to see you. Come on out, and help me celebrate.