Perhaps it's my reality as a no-two-days-the-same freelancer. Perhaps it's the events of this year. Perhaps it's the nature of the work I'm doing. Or maybe it's the insanity of this summer both in my life and the surrounding world. But holy jeepers and gee-whillikers, Batman, my second and final year of the King's MFA begins in less than two weeks!
I am super excited to see my friends after nearly eight months in our own little worlds. I want to hear about everyone's travels, for fun or research, or potentially for purposes of totally changing their book topic. I'll be missing the class that graduated in the spring (it contained some characters), but I'm curious and happy to see who is in the incoming group (likely character-filled, too).
Our two weeks together in Halifax is like a cosmic reset button kicking off our next round of efforts. After this brief residency, we'll see one another just one more time as a class, for a week in New York City in January. Some of us will connect at graduation in May, but it's unlikely everyone will attend. Then, we're well and truly on our own, unless we're able to meet for tea on our way through each another's environs by chance someday.
For the moment, I am just barely containing my desire to get back to the city wherein sits my university, even though I will only be there for a fortnight. For an American driving northeast, the trek up and around the coast and down onto the peninsula can be broken into chunks, each with its own distinct character:
- Southern Maine, with the crazy Boston drivers and beach people.
- Mid-coastal Maine, where there is a much-needed Starbucks at a rest stop on I-95.
- Bangor to Calais, the inland run where truckers try to kill you and if they don't succeed, the post-washboard state of the two-lane highway just might.
- The Border, where you must abandon all fruits and vegetables and convince the nice guards that you are not staying long enough to take away any Canadian jobs (or, on the reverse trip, that you have not been away long enough to acquire any contraband of any sort).
- St. Stephen to St. John, where your clock and your GPS units of distance are both confused, you spend most of your time looking for a gas station, and you stand a real danger of driving off the freeway because the views of the Bay of Fundy are just that stunning.
- St. John to Sackville, where you amuse yourself by trying to decipher New Brunswick's tourist route icons, counting Tim Hortons signs, and wondering if you're there yet.
- Amherst, where, from miles away, you can see a small rise in the farmland whereupon a tiny windmill, a high-flying Canadian flag, and a row of equally soaring and flapping white-and-blue provincial standards welcome you to Nova Scotia. Coffee, bathrooms, gift shop, tourist brochures, and the nicest greeting ladies in North America are all at your service.
- The road to Truro, where you can find an A&W and ponder the potential merits of rerouting to Antigonish and "Cay'Breton."
- Truro Heights to Dartmouth, where you can't believe how slowly the kilometers are clicking over and you may change the playlist to some old-school Rawlins Cross, the Rankin Family, the Barra MacNeils, or MacKeel just to give yourself hope.
- The MacKay Bridge into Halifax, where you take a deep breath, flip the playlist to Joel Plaskett (starting with "Harbour Boys"), set forth on a cruise through the North End and down the leafy tree-lined length of Connaught Avenue, and maybe skip your destination altogether in favor of a stop at Point Pleasant Park to make sure the ocean is still where you left it.
Who wouldn't have started packing two months ago?