Tuesday, April 12, 2022

A Meditation on Spring: For Every Season (Turn, Turn, Turn)


On April Fools day, I participated in a live literary event at Venetian Pool in Miami, the kickoff reading for O Miami’s poetry festival. I read a piece that was published in Waterproof, an anthology of all the places we’ll miss when Miami goes underwater. (Here's mine, Los Domingos al Palacio, and also some videos of me reading the piece.) I gotta say, it was something of a high to be doing something live – en vivo! – after two years of virtual everything.

I went for a refreshing swim before the reading began and ran into an old friend who was also splashing around in the water. We gave each other a delightful mermaid hug and caught up on our lives while treading water in the glow of a Miami sunset. After my reading, a woman with wild curls grabbed my arm. “Carmella!” she said, and I recognized her smile instantly, an artist who was in residence at the same as I was, back in December 2018 at Vermont Studio Center. Small world, we smiled. She lives in Miami now. Live it up, I told her, remembering the whirlwind of my twenties in this crazy, beautiful, complicated city.

I savored that feeling, the pleasant surprise of running into someone unexpected. It had been so long.

After the reading, people mingled around the dessert platters (oh, the joys of mingling!). I ran into one of the administrators of O Miami and thanked her for inviting me to read at the event. “It feels like a coming out party,” I told her. “A cotillion!” she exclaimed. After two years of isolation, here we are, gathering in the dying daylight of a dying city. I’ve emerged from the pandemic a mother of two—metamorphosed into someone completely different, and yet, someone completely the same.

If Miami goes, take me with her.

Back in Durham (where I live now!), I had a wild weekend; I attended a dance performance and a blues show in one evening! Watching these artists express themselves with raw vulnerability was overwhelming—the pianist losing himself in his improvisation, the dancer moving her body with gorgeous, effortless precision. It was overwhelming—in a good way. In a way that made me miss my own form of artistic expression. All of a sudden, I felt inspired to write, enflamed with ideas that I wanted—needed—to explore on the page.

I consume a lot of art in the form of literature. I use this fact as consolation; although I have barely written a coherent sentence since my first son was born in May 2020, at least I’ve been reading. But my experience last weekend made me realize that all that reading hasn’t inspired in me an intense desire to create. One of the dances was inspired by a Netflix show, and another wove together movement and monologue. I was grateful for the reminder that art can come from so many places, can take on many different forms.
It’s been over a decade since I lived in a place that had four distinct seasons. These days, I watch in wonder as this new place that we’ve chosen to call home explodes with spring—rainbows of color after months of grey drear. And I’m reminded that everything has its season. I heard someone call the season of motherhood “high need,” a season when our children make high demands on us—our time, our bodies, our patience, our everything. I am in the thick of it, and I will be for a good many years. But I’m also beginning to imagine the possibility of carving out some time for myself—to play with words on a page, to create something new.