I’ve only been here for 6 hours.
Truthfully, part of me is here because I’ve always wanted to spend the night in this old school building. The other part is here because of a book I’m writing (did I mention that?). Anyway, I’ve always felt like this building’s got a story to tell me and I’ve finally made it inside overnight with an extra bonus: my room, and the writing ward, is in the oldest part of the building. I can’t remember the year (I will find out for you) but the original schoolhouse burned down in the 1800’s and the part of the building I’m in was built to replace it. It’s joyous, being here amongst such history.
It smells historical, to boot.
The first thing I did after dropping my bags and going on an orientation tour was eat way too much. A massive sludge had occupied my mental body since yesterday (likely because I was coming here to create) and so I got little accomplished. I intended an entire meal plan of attack; I was going to cook me some ready made masterpieces. Instead, I shoved a loaf of bread in with my veggies so I could sandwich all week.
“I’m going to be healthy,” I said. “I’m going to feel amazing,” I said.
As I sandwiched I met Bobby, a poet and musician here from the outskirts of NOLA and we talked about how isolating creating can be; how desperate we are for both the separation from a stimulating society and the eager, honest feeling of connecting to other people. It not ironic that writers connect over self-inflicted isolation. It’s like having seven coffees and talking so much that you find someone who’s actually had one more americano than you. It feels good to be on the same level as someone else.
After eating, I wanted to see the 1867 shipwreck. Andrew, our residency coordinator here, said it shows itself depending on the level of the lake, and I was eager to see it; I’d never laid eyes on a casual, forgotten sunken ship. “Look for the nails sticking out of wooden planks,” he said, and I did.
Only a small portion of the ship appeared today. I didn’t take a photo because my phone was at capacity, so after revelling in the quiet sounds of wet watery waves – no wind, not a lick – I pushed my feet into the sand and came back to settle this tech deficiency.
On my way I collected pebbles and twigs that I intend to return before I go; a borrowing to bring the outdoors in to me while I write. I was inspired by the souls of all these stones.
I have a goal to see all the sunsets and sunrises while I’m here.
Back in my room while my phone uploaded photos, I thought I’d figure out what time my first sunset would be: 6:04pm.
I hustled to the beach. There’s a path beside the side of the property that I’m on that leads to the beach and I ran to it; up the hump of sand between the ferns, and under the pink, yellow, green, blue sky of Hamilton was a massive magenta ball of light. For 6 minutes I watched as it disappeared and stood facing its neon glow feeling faint solitude; accomplishment. My mind is buzzing now under the blue light of my machine, but as I stared at the sun I felt like I was in the rightest, most assured place I could have been for those 6 minutes.
When I came back I stared at the entrance closest to my ward and imagined its story (the first photo in the gallery below). Doorways are passages to alternate spaces, times, energies. They are meant to keep things apart. What lies beyond a closed door is often enormous potential. Doors are mysterious, and must be negotiated with to gain access. I had a key to this door, I thought. It’s in my pocket, and I know how to maneuver it and for this short span of time, I will feel grateful for the access I am granted because of it.
If walls could speak, I would spend my life listening. There is nothing more sure in my life than that of writing and I intend to continue working on stringing words together for as long as I am living.
In between all of these experiences today I met someone named Kate who said she was here to revise her manifesto. “Manifesto?” I said to myself. I listened as she spoke about goals, intentions, and spending time with herself to figure out what’s worth spending time on. Something bright and shiny now might not be what she wants to work on long term.
Tomorrow I will be up at 6 to make coffee before heading out to catch the sunrise over Lake Ontario. Then I will work on a manifesto. Oh – and my book. Right.
Tomorrow I will work on my book.
Tonight, I will listen for ghosts and try to figure out what they’re trying to tell me.