Saturday, April 20, 2013

April in Aberwystwyth 2013

No, I didn't fall off the planet but merely discovered the joy, frustration, self-doubt, euphoria and hard work that are the result of working on a PhD in a foreign country sans immediate family.

February and March in Aberystwyth are cold.  Not cold like in Astoria, Oregon, with its Pacific winds.  Not even cold like in Astoria when the rare wind from Alaska blows through the Victorian homes and yards, freezing everything in it's path.  It's cold like being hit with liquid nitrogen.  The cold passes through coats, jumpers, scarves, sweaters, and pierces the muscle and bone.  It doesn't matter how warmly you dress, it finds you and freezes joints.  But Wales is not nearly as wet as the Pacific Northwest, which surprises most Aberystwythians (you should get a prize for being able to pronounce that!)  The Welsh take their rainfall very seriously and consider themselves the top of the food chain when it comes to rain.  Sorry but your beautiful, albeit cold, winter was mostly dry to this homesick coastal Oregonian.

When one is a working writer, editor, and student producing a new novel, the term isolation takes on new meaning.  One must enjoy one's own company and reach out to a larger community to maintain one's sanity and grip on reality.  I'll insert an apology to my characters here but the fact is you're just not real no matter how entertaining you may be.  

Yesterday, in spite of brilliant work in the current progress of my novel, I was remembering the loss of my brother in a tragic boating accident several years ago; while simultaneously being so homesick, it was visceral and spilled down my face in unstoppable tears.  At that dark moment, my phone rang.  It was a friend about forty years my junior wanting to know if I wanted to 'hang out.'

I am so glad I had the courage to see that I 'needed' to say yes.  I needed human interaction, to be more than a writer, to stop for a moment from being a human-doing and take a break to catch the sun, laugh with friends, exult in the joy that waits around the corner and to become fully invested as a human-being.  I spent the evening with two exuberant twenty-year-olds, who have problems and challenges of their own, but for two hours we raced down Welsh roads, walked along the South pier, felt the strength of the sea in its endless quest to climb the shore, and filled our lungs with air blessed by the Irish Sea.  I took pictures as they cartwheeled and did hand-stands.  We laughed at each other's antics until we released all the pent up angst of winter.  We became one with the golden glow of a setting sun, the joy of spring blooming daffodils, and regained hope that we could each face another day.  In short, we stopped the intrusive madness of the outside world, the shootings and bombings and hate and sorrow, and instead exulted in the joy of humanity and friendship.  And let's not discount silliness and laughter... I recommend them highly.  We didn't need a drink or drugs.  We needed each other and deep breaths, and the endorphins that are released when we stop and actually see the bounty that God has provided for all of us each and every day.  He's there in the sunset, the sunrise, and each new bloom that promises of spring.

Take a moment, go outside, fill your lungs, and laugh out loud!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jan! Fellow JKC scholar Mary Ellen here! I've spent a while this evening reading through your blog and I'm really enjoying it. Just wanted to say hello from an aspiring writer!