For the first time in more than five months, I’ve padded up the carpeted stairs to my office and settled into my chair and loaded the dashboard on this blog page.
Yes, five months. The last time I looked out the windows behind the computer screen the view was white: snow frosting the roof of our neighbor’s house across the street. Now, the lilacs are blooming, leaves full and bright on the trees and the grass grows fast in the recent cycle of sunshine followed by rain.
I have not wanted to plop down in this chair, switch on the lamp and spread my elbows wide on the glass topped desk. I’ve even ignored the rows and rows of books lining the shelves, forgetting how much I loved this little nook on our second story, grateful that the previous owner, George, known as the “Judge” in our neighborhood built one fine office. In my neglect, the dust has accumulated and paperwork is scattered about.
I left this space, a space I felt to be sacred to me and my writing and my memories and my longings for stories and Lake Huron because I broke my arm on February 2nd and for many weeks, couldn’t type or write or think clearly due to the painkillers. Yes, another injury from skiing. Just as I was recovering from last year’s crash in Steamboat Springs. Right arm casted I spent my time on the first floor of our home, drowning my pain (there was a lot of pain, and for a long time) and frustration and despair with hours of television, pain pills and junk food. I didn’t seek solace in a book — I was so depressed that I wanted nothing to do with the objects that give me such joy. How could I have broken my arm?
The broken arm was not the only thing that gave me trouble. It compounded another issue I’d been grappling with since December. How to complete school and open a brewery? With my arm in a cast for more than two months and the ability to type greatly reduced, the answer seemed clear but no less heartbreaking.
So, I’m admitting this for the first time in the public/social sphere. Perhaps this is another reason why I haven’t posted since I visited my family before Christmas, believing it would be the last time I’d see my stepfather Vince alive.
I quit school.
Two years into the master’s program I adored, two years into a writing life I felt, on most days, so happy to have created, I had to let it go. Physically, I could not keep up with school with my injury. And as the work required to open the brewery mounted and mounted and I realized that we’d probably open in summer I couldn’t imagine trying to attend residency with the tasting room in operations.
I cried, a lot. I cried on the phone with RWW’s new program director, Rick Barot. It was our first introduction, this call. I told him about my arm, the brewery, that my stepdad had been given six months to live. I then talked with Stan Rubin, the program’s founder and outgoing director. I cried more. I sobbed to friends and family alike. It was one of the most difficult, heart wrenching decisions to make.
Tonight, now that the sky darkens, pregnant with storm clouds rarely seen outside of the Midwest, I will spare the details on dropping out of RWW. Essentially, I could not commit to the program with my current life situation.
And after a week of tears and Game of Thrones marathons, I decided that I couldn’t live two lives: one of the brewery and one of writing. It simply wasn’t possible to do both and do both well. The brewery has fully consumed Cole and me so there’s little time for continued reflection on my decision to leave school. I’m either dealing with various departments in the government to get the brewery’s required approvals and permits or loading pallets of grain or power washing floors or interviewing candidates for jobs or folding tshirts. What I’m doing is not writing. What I’m doing is another dream and passion of mine: opening a brewery.
So, I have yet to find a regret. But again, I haven’t had the time or more honestly, given myself the time. And I’m only up in my office to write checks for insurance and scour drawers for any folders related to the brewery I may have forgotten now that we’ve moved into our tiny shared office in the brewery. But I was drawn, compelled to do the thing I haven’t done whatsoever since the start of 2014, and that is to write. And here I am, back at my computer, writing.
As Rick told me, I have a lot going on right now. And that RWW will always be there for me. Perhaps it’s not the best time for my life. I hope that’s all true. And Stan told me, which made me sink to the floor, that I really am a writer and no matter what I was a part of the program and that matters. I hope that is true as well. For now, I am happy that on this June evening just after I took the dogs for a walk before the oncoming storm, I sat down and wrote the words I’d been avoiding for months now.
So, I’m a graduate school drop out. That’s just one part of this whole entire story…