Now that it is almost over, I look back on my summer and realize what an extraordinary time of writing it has been.
I have “learned” what I already knew subconsciously—that though I may never publish, though nothing of my work will see print this side of my own desk-top, though few but family will every even hear of the stories and essays I write, I will continue to write until the lights go out. It is what I do and part of my personality. That is something no one will ever be able to take from me. If I have no computer, I will compose on plain paper and in longhand. If that is taken, I’ll use scraps of paper, the insides of shopping bags, “paper please,” or the back of envelops and receipts for as long as they last. Take it all away and I’ll still write and my mind shall be my parchment, my imagination shall be my quill. I must write…and read. It is truly like eating and drinking.
I wrote in my home library, my wonderful amazing inner-sanctum of books and swords and musical instruments and art and cushy chairs. It was a perfect place to write. I have a faux fire place and early in the summer as I was beginning The Kevodran, it was cloudy and we had some oddly-chilly days. With my Pyrenees-wolfhound mix stretched out before the “burning” fireplace, baroque music playing softly, my fingers briskly tapping away, an anxious muse feeding me lines, reference books tilted open to my right and left on make-shift book stands, I was so living the dream. Not all the illusionary materials were in place. My “Persian” carpet was a cheap ‘Bed, Bath and Beyond” knock-off and my worn chairs were not leather clad wing-backs, and instead of wood paneling I had to settle for a horrific mottled wall paper, but rising from my broken office chair to open the door to the side yard so could listen to the rain fall, it was as perfect as I suspect it is ever going to get for me.
It’s why I am so sad. Next summer will be one of chaos. We will be moving away having let the house go back to the bank six months earlier and thus, it will no doubt more resemble a military staging area than a home. We bought during the high tide of the market, believing we’d be able to refinance and live out the rest of our days, if not in comfort, then at least in settled contentment. Like so many others, however, when the tide receded, we were left with an approaching dooms-day nothing this side of a miracle or a sympathetic and honest lender—an extinct breed—could forestall. I will not bore what few readers I have with the details. If they want to know specifics, they can pick up a newspaper. My story is not unique. We gambled and we lost. We’re upside down and the only way to right ourselves is to leave.
Leave my perfect writing environment, my idea of heaven. Thus, my summer has been an odd mix of emotions: sadness at the impending loss of my beloved library yet triumphant at having completed a major writing challenge—sorrowful that no other manuscript will have the benefit of this sanctuary, but happy that The Kevodran at least was completed here. I realized in this room the dreamy suspicion that I am capable of a novel length manuscript. I know now that there will be other manuscripts and stories to add to my collection. Moving up the literary food-chain, as it were, of manuscript writing: from background essays, to short stories, to novel length plots, has been a delightfully hard experience. I will be forever grateful for this room just as I will forever miss it.
A neighbor once told me that his house had built up, “…a lot of good karma…” I didn’t know if that was true or not at the time. Now I know it was. Iona Cein, I named the place, “Far Iona” in the Gaelic. And like its island namesake, it is a peaceful, serine place, a true haven after long days at work, a playground for my granddaughters with mysterious and twisted almond trees for climbing, a blue pool for swimming and koi pond waterfalls singing lullabies through the open French doors at the end of the day.
We have left our mark on it; no doubt about it. The pond will undergo some major and expensive repairs this weekend. The pool has a new bottom. The watering system is nearly useless. Marirose’s Himalayan has rendered the garage a class one bio-hazard. There’s dry-rot in the eves left by former owners and the plants show the wear and tear of our awkward attempts at what I call “green-thumbery.” Despite that, I would have to agree with my neighbor; it was full of good karma and this summer it blessed me with a swan-song outpouring of it. I hope I have, by turning that good karma into meaningful self-discovery and concrete literary progress, generated more and given it back. I pray to God,\ that the next owners will find a gift of positive energy left for them and that they appreciate this place even though we were forced to leave its tranquility with such heavy and broken hearts.
When school starts in a little more than a week and I’m asked, “How was your summer. Mr. P?” I’m not going to go into details, but I am going to say, “It was wonderful. It feels like we made a lifetime of memories in a single summer! How was yours?”
Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.