I am sitting at a tiny black writing desk while the morning sun streams in the oversized window of my room at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, Maine. Greeting me is one of the most beautiful recurring winter skylines, white near the horizon and ever bluer as my eyes rise above the bare, reaching trees. Outside, it is -3 degrees. Inside, my coffee is burning my tongue. I have half an hour before I drive the winding, snowy roads back to the Stone House, on Wolf’s Neck Peninsula, for my graduate classes. For those who know the town, take Bow Road, across the street from LL Bean, out past tightly packed Capes and Colonials, out to where the road begins to narrow, further still. Take a right at Wolf’s Neck Road, and drive on. Continue past the big white barn to where the road forks, stay right. You have arrived.
Our stone house, our gathering place, our school building, past this day, is no more. That is to say, it has been sold out from under us, or will be. The University of Southern Maine, in case you’ve missed it, is in financial distress. Selling our beloved house which neighbors Wolf’s Neck State Park, and sits beautifully surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean from the front and back, is one attempt to set things straight. Others include firing beloved professors and omitting entire degree programs (so things could certainly be worse for me.)
In any case, I’m headed to the house for my last day of workshop. Though I will never again look down over these snow-covered fields watching eagles circle over the ocean while I ponder the nuances of my writing craft, and though I am grateful to have ever had this unique opportunity in the first place, I’m ready to move forward. It is not the stone house itself, but those who teach and learn there, that make the Stonecoast program what it is.
I’m heading into my 2nd semester of the best learning I have ever done: learning that means something to me, for which I am not simply memorizing or rushing to get done so I can do what I truly want to do. This is what I truly want to do, and always have. Yes, it took me a long time to get here, but the things I’ve done in the meantime give me something, too, to write about. Here’s to the next five months of utter bliss. May they be a wild and unruly parade that leads me past a thousand brightly painted doors. May I summon the courage to knock on every single one.