In a Normal (Illinois) state of mind

I think this is the closest to normal I’m ever going to be.

I’m jotting a hello to you between sessions at a conference where my mom is speaking and I am trying to finish emails in between bookfair openings.

We spent the last couple of days before this in Asheville. I think its my favorite city in the US. Hands down. There are some places where your soul comes and settles in, as if the city itself and the people and the things they eat and the way they think fit a puzzle piece of yourself without any odd, grating edges. There were a spate of warm days there that drew us out into the streets to pound up and down sidewalks with cherry blossoms strewn over them, and forsythia making tunnels of our way. Crocuses, irises, daffodils, all timid, but out. I spent my first afternoon there in an old downtown park, stretched on grass just greening. Had hordouevres on a capacious front porch that night while the sky grew old with gold. We walked down to a neighborhood Jamaican cafe and had fresh fish with spices, organic vegetables. There was funky music and a door open onto the street and the cool meandering in and we lounged at our table as long as we pleased, sopping up sauce with garlic and baguettes. We walked back, slow, the nearly full moon scrached at by oak branches just nibbed by new leaves, sat, read, talked. It’s not that life is perfect there, more that the living feels realer, as if somehow I touched more, tasted more, breathed more deeply than I’m used to. I’ll post you all some favorite places should you ever get the urge to scurry down there for a weekend sometime.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Culture Making, I’m deep into a drive to read, read, read right now. Travel gives me odd extra hours of unexpected reading time, but I am also convicted of late just how much I need to take responsibility for my thoughts, my goals, and my education. No matter where I am “educated” or what I do the rest of my life, I have the chance day in, day out, to form great thoughts and thus, great actions in myself. I have had a “someday” mentality about some of this: “when I stop traveling, I’ll read more… when I get to college, I’ll start writing regularly… when I am in a class, I will read those other classics (or poetry, or current events, or children’s literature) that I need to get myself really thinking.” But I have been suffused with a conviction of the immediacy of life lately, the glaring, pulsing chance of this present minute, something I have no surety of having in another split second. Or few days. Or month.

It’s reading for me (for other people I’m sure its other things), the push to think deeper, write more poignantly. My new excitement about this expressed itself in a near mad rush at an antiques shop in Asheville that was dumping its entire stock of old hardbacks for $1 a piece. I bought ten. And, oh, that was after The Strand visit (famous NYC bookshop right on Union Square), and oh, before that the visit with Miss Lynn (the consummate book pal) to the thrift store. Sigh. I’m just going to have to start a library someday. Actually, I’m going to, but that’s a dream for another day.



Filed under Books, Contemplations

2 responses to “In a Normal (Illinois) state of mind

  1. Patty Yellis

    I’m working through my shelves and reading a good find for the first time or rereading a thought provoking oldie. I think I need to buy the one you mentioned on culture, but first I need to buy my flower seeds to be ready for the first of June. I’m hopeful to be able to work in the garden this spring/summer. If not, the girls will work out my dream plans. Some things do need to be put off for a later time, but so many things can be done in the present. My dad used to say that life is never long enough to accomplish all our plans, but that doesn’t mean we stop planning or dreaming. Blessings on your day. I’ll write you a real letter soon, Lord willing.

  2. Beth M

    You’re so right! “some day…” may never come, and we need to start today! Good challenge, and I’ll start reading those books I’ve been meaning to starting today! At least until I receive my Culture Making. Hope you’re having fun starting your new adventure today.

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