My 2 weeks in New Haven are coming to an abrupt end. The time here has been no less than spectacular, but this morning we had our last workshop, our last full-on discussion of what’s working and what’s not and why, and those three+ hours were over in what sounded like a zipper going up. We’ve been colluding in understanding, while we dissect and piece together and dig up so many virtual graves. And we’ve laughed. So goes the work of the nonfiction writers. Nonfiction gatherings are so much different than fiction and poetry in this way — within days, even minutes, you become privy to the most intimate details of someone’s life and how they’re trying, like you, to sort it out on the page. To make a story of it. To answer “the question.” A community is formed.
One woman (thankfully) thought to take a group photo before we all went our own way.
The weather here has finally turned to real live Summer, stuffy and hot and exhausting, making it hard to spend any time at all in my dorm room — the place I’ve worked best these 2 weeks — so I set up for a few hours this afternoon in the tiny library above the dining hall in Calhoun College: leather couches, wood-paneled walls, an overstock of dusty old books, and, best of all, a constant blast of cold vented air. Work was done. Quiet. I deciphered my barely legible notes. A writer who didn’t have his computer with him asked if I could look up a word. “I need the etymology of apocalypse,” he said. And after we had that, “Okay, good. Now how about just calypso?”
Calypso: a sea nymph in the “Odyssey” who kept Odysseus on her island; lit. “hidden, hider” (perhaps originally a death goddess) from Greek kalyptein, “to cover, conceal.”
A light tap on my arm, followed by the writer’s library-like whisper, “Thank you. Really, thank you.”
Tonight before bed I read these final words from Jonah Lehrer’s IMAGINE: The crowded spaces force us to interact. They lead us to explore ideas that we wouldn’t otherwise explore on our own, and converse with strangers we’d otherwise ignore.
Here’s to Calypso.