Emotionally Draining, Physically Exhausting, Please Don’t Let It End

Kenyon Day 4.

Quite a heady time here in the brutal central Ohio heat. I had planned on using the fantastic-looking pool here, but Kenyon seems to make its money by renting out its lovely dorms and buildings to a variety of groups throughout the summer. Last week was Job’s Daughters and a group of teenage mimes. This week it is writers and teenage swim camp. I have not seen the teenage swimmers swim, although I have heard from an eyewitness that they are profiles in endurance. On dry land, they stand in a herds, feeding, eyes glazed either because it is early in the morning (at breakfast) and they are teenagers, or because they have spent all day swimming (at dinner) and are exhausted. I had hoped to use the pool, but there are only slivers of availability.

So yesterday I went on a trail hike. The assignment was to describe myself at a moment in time and my goal here at Kenyon was to generate work that was not about me as a child. “Describe myself at a specific moment in time,” and I wanted to be 1) an adult and 2) happy. It took a hell of a lot of trail hiking to come up with something and by the time I got back to Mouse Cottage, as I have dubbed my over-air-conditioned dwelling which I share with two roommates and a noctural rodent, I had time only to shower, change and shuffle slowly, sore-muscled, off to the dining hall, where the teenager swimmers were huddled around the soft serve ice cream machine, silently pumping and nudging each other aside.

In this morning’s session, two people cried when they read their pieces. I cry when they cry. I cry at anything. I haven’t cried reading my own pieces aloud but I experience a different, marvelous confluence of nervous sensations: my hands shake, my palms sweat, and my voice trembles. Lovely. Can’t wait for my public reading Friday night!

Back to Mouse Cottage now, to change into my trail clothes.

Originally published Wednesday, June 23, 2010

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