At the Grave

I’m writing this from Tippy’s grave in Needham. It’s a perfect day, breezy and warm. The birds are singing, the sky is blue, all that. What better day to visit my brother’s grave? After all these years, I’m still impressed by how perfect this cemetery is, especially in the summer. The grave sits on the top of a hill under the shade of a giant oak tree. There is little noise besides leaves rustling and birds twittering and the occasional train whistle in the distance. This is the perfect place to be dead.

The thought to write at the grave occurred to me earlier today as I hauled a basket of laundry down the basement stairs. Sometimes it’s difficult to write from home. It’s as if there’s a creative block within the walls. That, and there’s always something to distract me. There are times I feel I can’t get anything done unless I venture out to the closest Panera or Starbucks. It’s only then that words come.

I can’t afford any blocks right now. I have so much work to do. The Memoir Incubator started over a month ago. After three tries, I was finally accepted (with a scholarship, no less. Go figure). I love the class– it’s pretty much everything I hoped it would be: in depth workshops, craft lessons, assignments that challenge me to approach my writing differently, an instructor and classmates who push me to be better, to dig deeper, to take risks. And I want to be better. I have a lot of work ahead of me. Sometimes it seems unattainable, and I wonder what this is all for.

My book is starting to take on a life of its own, and while that’s exciting, it’s also terrifying. Sometimes I when I’m writing, I’ll stumble into a memory I had forgotten. It’s exciting, and probably the closest thing to time travel I’ll ever experience.

I’m heading up to Bradford next week. In fact, in exactly one week, I’ll be on my way up to the Airbnb I booked for five days. The house is half a mile from my childhood home. I plan to spend my days writing, walking on the trails I frequented as a kid. I’ll be there on the nineteenth anniversary of Tippy’s death, which is especially significant to me because I was nineteen years old when he died. I’m momentarily shocked when I think about how long it’s been, but in a weird way it seems like it’s been so much longer. So much has happened.

This will be my first writing retreat without Lauren. My first retreat alone, actually. I’m looking forward to it, even though I’ll have no one to keep me on task. I could always count on Lauren to keep my nose to the grindstone. She has kindly offered to send motivational text messages.

Anyway, if anyone reading this happens to live in the Bradford area, send me a message. I’d love to reconnect. If anyone wants to meet up and chat about Tippy, that would be even better (at least I’ll still feel productive while socializing).

As I do on every retreat, I’ll update this blog next week. I’m going to post this now because my butt has gone numb from sitting on this concrete bench. Yikes. Thanks for reading.

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