Scheherazade, over at Stay of Execution, has been blogging about change in her usual lucid manner. In fact, it seems like change is the unofficial theme of the small legal blogging universe to which I subscribe. People are moving across the country, exploring new and challenging internships or jobs, and, like myself, attempting to pick through the woods of Error, which seem to lie thickly about the financial aid process. I, however, am no Redcrosse. I’ll be leaving my state, my job, my friends, most of my projecty stuff, my tools, my car, possibly my cat, and perhaps a long standing love relationship.
Maybe I should chalk up my current mood to the rain or to nomadic weariness – since 1990 I haven’t lived in the same set of rooms or apartment for longer than a single calendar year. In fact, given the renter’s overlap, it’s safe to say I haven’t lived in the same set of rooms or apartment for a single calendar year. I have moved for my education, for my sanity, for a job, for love, and out of despair. At times I think I have moved out of habit, or been pressured by the shifting world of roommates and lovers. I have given away beds, cars, desks, plants, cats, clothing and the greater part of a small but impressive library of poetry and theory. I have given away cities and regions, summers and oceans. I have no fixed place, nowhere to return to, no place I can store things without checking every so often to see if they’re still there.
In saying, “yes” to my life, I have said, “no” to countless things – and in this way, I am no different than anybody else. I think overall that I’ve done well enough – that I’ve in the main made choices which I respected at the time and which I’m able to feel good about now. I’ve pursued something in which I think I have a gift, and I’ve been very happy doing so despite the demands it placed on me, despite the poverty, despite the scorn and dismissal, despite the misapprehensions of what (and how) I do.
I think one of the more noticeable side-effects of my nomadic life is a lack of trust, a strong suspicion of other people’s motives. Relatives and acquaintances who heartily congratulated me on my tooth-skin acceptance into Georgetown (and poo-pooed my excitement at getting into UConn) are the same ones who don’t remember/care where I did my other graduate studies. People who now make pro forma offers to do, “Whatever I can to help,” well, I have to wonder where these concerned folks were when I really needed them. I’m just glad that I have a few friends who have been around though the lean times, a few honest offers of support that goes beyond name only. They’re the ones who matter to me.
In some ways I feel that LS is going to husk the peripherals of my current life off of me. Granted, I’m pressed for time now, and I’ll be folding up my charity poetry projects to focus on my own education and subsequent legal career, but I’m simply not going to have time for the casual acquaintances, much less those people who are trying to elbow themselves back into my life. It makes me feel like a bit of a selfish bastard though, and I’ll sure I’ll hear that term directed at me from plenty of these recently interested individuals. In some ways I have sympathy for those who lost faith in me, for those who pushed me out the door and expected I’d linger at the stoop, or those who thought I erred by pursuing poetry and would someday "see the light," "come crawling back," or (how often I have heard this!) have, "decided to give up poetry for the law!" (I can assure you nothing of the sort will happen.) How I’ve lived and the goals I've pursued in my life aren't easy for some to understand. For example, some older relatives want to reestablish their relationships with me now that I seem to be doing something “worthy” – but should I make time for these people? Can I? I think not.
Perhaps Longfellow is closest to how I feel today, which is strongly laced with something of the labor and cost of poetry:
Half my life is gone, and I have let
The years slip from me and have not fulfilled
The aspiration of my youth, to build
Some tower of song with lofty parapet.
Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret
Of restless passions that would not be stilled,
But sorrow, and a care that almost killed,
Kept me from what I may accomplish yet;
Though, half-way up the hill, I see the Past
Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights,--
A city in the twilight dim and vast,
With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights,--
And hear above me on the autumnal blast
The cataract of Death far thundering from the heights.