The Perfect Place that Eludes Me


It’s quite important that I write now, and I’ve not really written for almost two weeks. For a while I fought it, trying to use the interstitial moments, but finally I gave in, decided to read a book on the bus for a week or so, and make up for it in this coming week I have off between Christmas and New Years. I’ve been gearing up for it, trying to quell the anxiousness, telling myself there will be a transition into a time of focus and productivity.

I’ve felt the transition might happen here, in the Student Union. For the last week or so, since finals ended, I’ve walked through the room during work hours to deliver documents, it has been quiet and almost empty, with a fire in the fireplace, and I’ve thought, “oh, how I would like to sit here, for just one hour, in front of the fire, in the quiet and bring myself back to center.” I’ve envisioned myself like someone in a Merchant Ivory film, or like Harry Potter brooding by the fire after everyone has gone to bed.

But somehow, the one day I had spare time during my lunch hour, the fire was out, and then several facilities workers came to look at the fireplace, and had a conversation for the entire length of my stay. Later that same afternoon I again delivered documents and the fire was flickering, and it was quiet–like some kind of fruit that you can never reach in some Greek myth.

Two nights this week I’ve tried to come over before seven, when they close, but each night I’ve received phone calls before leaving the office that made this impossible and although I was glad for the calls, I watched the clock approach seven with a twinge of regret.

Tonight was the last night the union will be open before the new semester begins, with all the students returned. All day I’ve been holding in my heart this magical hour I was going to spend in the quiet, looking at the fire, finding that place inside me that I best write from.

And now I have arrived, and the fireplace is dark, the chairs that are often in front of it have been moved, and even though there are only five other people in the room, they are all having noisy, echoing, meaningless conversations. The two you see hear in the picture are having a conversation. The Chinese guy with his laptop just out of frame is talking aloud on Skype. An older Alumnus in a Trojan red jacket talks happily with a stranger. A noisy coffee shop might even be better, since all the noise would blend to become a white noise, whereas here I can hear each conversation.

Though I know the loveliness of the place where I am doesn’t leave me much right to be, I’m quite disappointed. I’m writing words, but the good words seem out of my grasp. I can write a frustrated blogpost, but I can’t reach that place I need to access–

and I’m worried that the same thing might happen this week. We have a guest staying in our house, and staying in my home office, and both my roommate and husband have the week off, so there will be no stillness in the house. The libraries on campus are closed, and I’ve been told security will be watching our offices. The libraries in town are closed for the holidays.

I’ve been working hard on being less high-maintenance about things like this, I try to tell myself a writer writes even when the circumstances aren’t perfect…but a writer also is protective and does what she needs to do in order to write…it’s a dilemma.

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