S A R I S H A K U R U P
Now that is February, my recollections of winter break are already taken on that hazy tone of distant memory. I remember outlines, some snapshot feelings, but not everything, not clearly.
I began in New York, a delightfully short flight from Maine, and spent a few wonderful, lazy winter days traversing the city. Suddenly, after the odd hours of finals, I was sleeping in, only roused dangerously close to midday by the sounds of Upper West Side construction. We (my friend Maya and I) basically spent our time hopping from bookstore to coffeeshop to bookstore, trying to recreate the perfect conditions for us to somehow create our literary masterpieces. There is something so wonderful and so hopeless about writing in the city. Everything you write feels important, but that's probably how the guy at the table next to you on his MacBook feels too, and is there really enough space in the world for everyone in New York who wants to succeed to do so? All I knew then was that I hadn't written substantially all semester, and I was hoping for something, anything, at all. I finally delivered a poem as the day shifted from evening to night, as we sat at our favorite table at Brooklyn Roasters.
When I flew back to San Francisco I carried the weight of not knowing when I would be back in my favorite, sprawling city. Still, I was happy to be home, among the familiarity that I often wonder if I will ever be able to truly recreate elsewhere. We spent Christmas in San Francisco, at my aunts' apartment in Noe Valley, and then flew to Aspen in time for New Years.
I hadn't skied in awhile, but I was more excited just to see the snow. When I had left Maine it had been falling thickly, so entrancing that I had truly almost cried on the drive to the airport. I wanted something of the same from Colorado, but of course it did not snow at all and they even lowered the lift tickets because of the amount of runs they had to close. Still, it was a beautiful trip. Moving from California to Maine has made me so aware of the way that terrain changes in different places, takes on a different life and character, and Colorado was a fascinated case study of that. I don't know quite how to describe it, but the way that the rivers cut through the mountains near Aspen is both rough and expertly delicate at the same time, I just wanted to get out of the car and set up camp right there, erase the manmade world altogether. It was something of an Into the Wild moment.
The town of Aspen itself is enchanting like some kind of unattainable dream, and when the fireworks exploded above the mountain and we slipped into the New Year I felt so incredibly lucky to be there.
From Aspen is was back to San Francisco for a week, and then I was off to Virginia. I was meeting the director of the Bowdoin Museum of Art to work on a project for a private collector of postwar outdoor sculpture. There I was for a week, nestled away in a colonial mansion on an expansive horse farm in Upperville, Virginia, suddenly falling in love with the landscape of the American South in a way I never thought possible. It was a week of beauty, of art, of a life suddenly slowed down. We ate at the same restaurant almost every night, a little British-inspired pub, walked the same winding country roads, awoke to the same purple sunrise. I adored it.
When I came back to Maine, within hours of landing, my friend and I drove out to the water and went for a small hike. As the sounds of the water slowly lapping against the rocks filled my ears, I was struck by the familiarity of it. It was a different familiarity than California, but nevertheless, I felt peaceful. Settled.