Daily 300 (2): This might be too big to write yet
|April 24, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under Daily 300|
Today I attended the last class of my undergraduate career.
People cried. It was great. I brought snickerdoodles. Our professor sent us out the door with hugs and a list of books and a poem hand-picked for each student.
“What do we do now?” This from one of my classmates as we walk down the hall, voicing the big question, the thing we all hope we have an answer for after our professor’s heartfelt sendoff.
“I have a life!” I answer her, shouting into the stairwell, and it’s almost what I mean. The last four years have been life, of course, and what I mean is that now I start to live after this finish line. Or maybe what I mean is in the possessive I have, that now I know how to claim myself wholly, instead of in pieces.
Last semester a different professor told me that “bonfire” comes from “bone fire,” and I feel like that today. Out in the hallway I am laughing, helpless, in the same way that several other students cried. I want to cry; it would be cathartic and poignant, but I have cried so much in the last four years. Instead I have this dry laugh, instead my marrow feels like kindling or coals, and I want so much. I want the poetry MFA that I’ve decided I’ll work toward, I want the internship I landed at a lit journal this summer, I want my words to mean something to other people, I want to write stories only for myself. One of my classmates pointed out that contradiction during our last class; I had talked about how freeing it is to sometimes write solely for your own enjoyment, and later said that what we write is bigger than we are, lasts longer than we can.
Another student quoted Whitman in my defense, but I don’t feel like I contain multitudes. I contain only the scope of my self and, I suppose like Whitman after all, I have always been made of contradictions. I cherish the etymology of bonfires and last week I had a green vine tattooed down the dip of my back, an image vulnerable to flames. The philodendron that inspired the tattoo is real, a plant stubborn enough to live after years in my clumsy care. It’s the focus of a piece I wrote for this final class, the first creative nonfiction essay I ever completed with pride. The essay begins the work of resolving trauma I lived through at the beginning of this, in freshman year.
What do I do now? I keep going. I find the work that calls to me and I do that work. I live as the strange, singular, and contradictory person that I am. I write it down.