It’s about time…

I’ve tried several times in the last couple of weeks to post an update on my situation. Words have failed me, which is worrying. There’s just too much to say, and writing down partial truths felt too dangerous, too much as though it would obscure the whole. But sooner or later you have to accept that you can never capture the complexities of life, and the portions you choose to assemble your narratives will possess their own truth; accept that this is valid and worthwhile.

And that’s my fish-head. The story starts here: I am sitting on the sofa in a friend’s house, dressed in biker leathers and resisting the urge to roll a smoke. I came here last night after the magazine launch, after travelling by train from London, after a week spent with my family – not writing, not organising my life, indulging in thinking only of other people’s problems. After parting from my husband.

We’re not indulging in strange leather bondage rituals, me and the friend. We’re going out on the bike, seeking a late lunch and a speedy thrill. New things to do.

This house will be my more-or-less home for the coming month, and then I’m going to Africa (say it breathily!) To the Cote D’Ivoire, to be precise, which, yes, is very dangerous and volatile. I’ll be hiding in the British we-haven’t-got-an-embassy and attempting to finish my novel. I’ll be online, so I won’t disappear from the POV of most of you. I expect to return to the UK around Christmas time. After that… a void. It’s terrifying.

Coming down, Applewise

So. Well, and so. I have spent the last two weeks down the rabbit hole, it seems, and now I’ve climbed out again to find myself… in New York, which would be strange under the most normal of circumstances.

That story I was fighting with, I wrote. The next one was even harder, but I wrote that too. I went seriously crazy writing Haunt-Type Experience. (Note to my classmates; I don’t generally go around saying ‘I feel fucking unhinged’ just for effect. Honest.) Luckily all that wierdness found it’s way into the story without overwhelming it. Or so they tell me.

I was in the last four to submit, and, cruelly, my story was the last story to be critiqued. Then I FINALLY got to have some fun! We got graduated, which is a process I will leave mysterious for the benefit of future Clarionites. I started putting things in my suitcase after the ceremony, and that made me wobbly to say the least, but 

came and found me weeping softly into my sockpile and hauled me out with her, 

and 

for beer at one of the breweries outside Seattle. We got back just in time for me to have my conference with Mr. Delaney, which went well and I didn’t cry hardly at all. During our absence the incomparable Gary Dauphin had fetched our T-Shirts from the printers and they looked pretty damn cool. (Photo to be added soon as.)

In the evening drinks were at Kira’s house. Kira’s house is lovely, and so is Kira. It was a very moving affair, from Chris (

) being presented with the Octavia Butler scholarship award by a tearful Nisi (not a dry eye on the block) to saying our first goodbyes amongst the group – Sharon and Carrie. That was truly the beginning of the end. Back at the sorority, we watched Metal Mania (as had become our wont on a Friday night), played ‘guess who’s terrible smut that is’ (I sucked, sorry everyone), tried to finish up the booze, and hugged farewell to folks as they went to bed or left for the airport. In the morning I got to say goodbye again to a few people, and Erin took me, 

and Jon to the bus station and then the airport, and that’s when I started to lose it again. Last this, last that, last ride in the erinmobile. It took us to wonderful places.

It will take me a very long time to process everything that’s happened. There will be many future posts from me on the subject, I’m afraid. Being in NY is, well, it’s weird but I suspect not as weird as it would be to be back home at this point. Being anywhere without my classmates is freaky in the extreme. Yes, I slipped away by myself several times in Seattle, but I always knew they were there to go back to, as soon as I was ready. They offered me company, support, entertainment and beer when I needed it. They allowed me solitude when I needed that. They gave me backrubs and snuggles and sharp, honest feedback. Guys, you rock. Hard. 

I arrived in New York 4 hours late, at 2a.m. No buses, wasn’t happy about the idea of taking the train and subway, but very, very luckily I’d made friends with the couple in the seats next to me on the flight and they kindly allowed me to share their taxi into Manhatten. So – New Yorkers are perfectly nice people as it turns out (but I knew that! Hello

!)

NY is great. I love the streets, and the public art, and the tiny parks with people walking their tiny dogs and their enormous impractical dogs, and the huge choice of restaurants. I love the view from the top of the Empire State. I love the buildings. The Chrysler is wonderful from the outside. Inside, it has a very grumpy concierge who won’t let you look at anything (NY person in not-so-nice shockah), but what you can see is amazing. Grand Central Station is grand, indeed. The main concourse isn’t especially big, but it’s really beautiful. The cast-iron buildings in SoHo are very cool. Recommended restaurants: Tabla on Madison Ave – simply the most amazing food I’ve ever eaten – & Vatan on 5th Ave – Indian banquets in a pseudo-village with charming service and terrific food. Don’t eat lunch before going… Disrecommended restaurant: Zen Palate on Union Square. Choice looks fantastic, but nothing has any flavour.Tomorrow I get to see Central Park with Amy, hurrah.