Where I've Been

This month contains multitudes. On the first day Greg and I dashed under an umbrella to have gin, tonic, and Thai food with a sculptor. On the second I giggled my way through a script full of typeo-s and confusions that I myself had inserted. On the third I sat with my feet up on a seat and watched eleven-year-olds get swallowed by murderous plants. On the fourth, a friend from college came by, and we had free cupcakes and watermelon beer before dashing off to do improv in the dark, and be pulled into drum circles, and say "spicy cukerita" over and over, and generally stay out too late.

On the fifth, my voice began to hit national radio. Strangers heard it first. Little bursts of excitement came in over email and twitter to say little burst-y things. But at the Mark Twain House, things were not easy. We looked each other in the eyes. We waited things out. We went down to New Britain and performed the writer's works as if he were the person we were trying to make laugh.

On the sixth I rose at six and put on running shoes. I sat on the couch and waited to hear myself. The person being interviewed before me was also from my hometown, and I thought of Summit and the girls I used to know there. I sat and listened until the girl I was a few months ago came on the air and said some things about lunch. When it was over I turned off the radio and ran over a bridge. I ran through the rest of the day: lunch and a tour of an old curtain factory, laundry and coffee and another show, this one raucous with the joy of doing it a second time, and then a late night drive to Cape Cod.

On Sunday morning, the seventh, my grandmother, my grandfather, my parents, my siblings, my aunt, and my cousins sat on the couch and waited for my voice. My grandmother had arranged the living room for the occasion. The station was fundraising, though, and they cut me to make room for Ira Glass. The certainty that they'd cut me settled into the room quiet and deep. We looked around at each other and decided to go swimming in the rain instead, despite the muskrats and swans in the pond water.

I read a book about rock stars, a book about pen names, a book about fundraising. I thought about what it meant to have a public identity, even a small, three-minute-radio, one-hundred-readers-blog. Because of Carmela Ciuraru's book, I thought about being a woman writer, or a shy writer, or an insanely prolific writer.

By then I was on vacation, saved from the temptation of googling myself and my newfound radio voice. Days eight, nine, ten, eleven: blueberry pie, baby turkeys, dirt-road jogs, rainy day antiques, kerosene lamps, sunflowers, fried clams at a defunct girls' summer camp, nights too cloudy for stars. My dad and his sister told stories. My mom took photos of every little thing. It was the usual.

We landed in Portland, out of the woods, on Thursday night. Greg wandered off a train looking sleepy, and then we went for a swim at sunset as a three-or-four-sail-sailboat went out. That night we laughed a lot. The next morning I swam again and was happy that it was becoming a little vacation habit. My friends showed up and my real world crept back in-- staying up late and making fun of each other. The margaritas were awful. The new morning swim was idillic. The bad sunburn was only awful for an hour or so, and then we got on a boat and looked at islands and I felt better. When we got our chance, that night, we used the whole stage.

It was only as we drove back that I realized the weather had been beautiful, and that all was well. I am sorry to have made my grandmother hope to hear my voice for two hours, but I am not sorry that my real life occurs mostly in theaters with a real, human audience whose eyes I can look into and whose laughs I can register. And when my life isn't there it's usually with someone else who is making me laugh. And when it isn't there, it's usually buried completely, entirely, hopelessly, madly in a book.

Sometimes I think I am still the exact same person I was when I was twelve.