Given that it's happening simultaneously with the summer writing course I'm teaching with my flaming-sworded friend, the hardest thing about Project Exodus is that it leaves me with little or no brainspace or energy for writing here, or anywhere but on student papers. And though I want to spend this weekend reading and writing--resting, in short--I am now down to my final six days in this house, and there's much left to do before they're up. Tonight found me taking the kitchen apart, cabinet by cabinet, washing all the baking sheets and pans and all the bowl attachments for the small appliances, wrapping all the wine glasses in paper and laying them neatly in boxes, bowl beside stem, bowl beside stem. I've never done a move quite like this one, where even as I pile up boxes, I can reassure myself that an hour of short trips tomorrow will have them empty again, their contents placed neatly all over the new apartment's kitchen.
The middle week of the writing course has seemed to be hard on everyone in some way or another. And thus it is that Thursday night found me escaping Gambier for a few hours with my flaming-sworded friend and one of my Clevelander students. One dinner and one shoe purchase later, we were back in the car heading northward, and I, at least, felt as though we'd gained a little breathing space. And thus it is that Friday evening found me flying northeastward over a winding highway, heading for dinner with another of my Clevelander students.
I've made time to take pictures this week, generally on my way to or from lunch, but I keep tiring out too soon to be able to pull them together and post them for you. On Friday, because I was driving, I offered the camera to my student. At first she demurred, but then she decided to give it a try. I explained a couple of basic principles to her, and she was off and shooting. It started to become a game to me, looking for things that she might see and find picture-worthy. Moreover, she's an artist, so I was curious to see whether her eye would catch different arrangements than mine. "Things look so different through this frame," she said at one point, while she waited for the next shot to approach us.
We sat on red painted café chairs on a sidewalk in Loudonville and ate pizza and pasta and Belgian chocolate creme, and we left for home full and content--so content that we took a backroad home.
We waved to the Amish men and women we passed as we drove through their country. A group of men fished; a child drove the buggy his parents were also riding in, and we wondered whether he was learning to handle the reins. The volleyball game I'd seen last week had come to involve both boys and girls, all in their teens, all eighteen or twenty ready to play on either side of the net.
I know that Cambridge also has things like impromptu and unpredictable sporting events and sun behind farm plants and, presumably, people who will ring up or e-mail to say, we haven't talked in too long; can we have dinner? But these last days in the old house are making me think about last days in the village for this year, and about how strange it will be to be so far away for so long. As I pack, I try to reckon: will I want this object out in a year? Will I remember where it is? Will I remember what they all are, these things? I start to have dark moving-related fantasies wherein I go around with an enormous garbage bag simply tossing out anything I haven't touched in a year. But I don't do it.
Instead, I dream while I'm asleep. Last night, a new apartment with a vaulted ceiling, but unclear directions about how to reach the new place in the dream. Friends from long ago drifted in and out. I looked tirelessly but never figured out how to get back to the apartment with the high ceiling. I took long roads and wrong turns, saw countryside rolling out before me, saw and saw and saw. Then woke up and started it all again. These things I will miss.