Saturday, October 1, 2011

Writing exercise from
Plein Air Writing Workshop,
led by Kathe Izzo, at the education center and grounds of Olana, Hudson, NY,
this morning

For this exercise, go outdoors and bring yourself back to childhood memories, as though you're Hansel & Gretel lost in the woods, having to make a home for yourself somehow outside in nature. Where would you go? What would you do?
Besides my own bed, I didn't have a space of my own, a room of my own, ever, until many years later, in the latter years of college. So before then, exiled from home, I was forever trying to find or make a home in the world. In warm months, in the branches of a neighbor's apple tree, perched there, butt on hard bark, ouch, scratching my bare skin, feet wedged in a thick immobile vee of trunk. In my own yard - open to the street - it was a corner house, too exposed, all manner of everybody walked & drove by - so no hope of privacy except for under an overgrown forsythia, beneath its wild branches a surprisingly capacious still space, where I squatted on the ground with my book, hearing the sounds of my brothers' voices or the thwack of the screen door, my mother stepped out onto the stoop. But these spaces were inadequate, uncomfortable, so when I was older I took to my bike and cycled as far away as I could, up into North Stamford, New Canaan, as far as Westchester a few times, before cycling back downhill for the return 15 miles. There my home was on my back, like a turtle - I'd wear a backpack lardered with a snack & water, paper & pen, a book. My home was in my head, and in the cinematic unfurling of road and idyllic suburban landscape as I biked ever northward to the countryside where though I was on an open road, there for anyone who cared to to see me, I felt there, exposed, an exquisite sense of privacy.

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