29 December 2010

just before

Remember that can't-sleep anticipation of something really good coming? A childhood Christmas morning? Or the night before the first day of seventh grade? Or the entire day before the State track meet - such a big event that it was held at Ricks College?

I've not been disappointed.

Christmas morning, 1973, Fairchild AFB, Spokane, WA. Santa must have enjoyed the cookies because he left the Barbie Airplane made by Mattel United Airlines for yours truly. What more could an 8-year old girl want?!

Seventh grade began at Bountiful Junior H.S. with the only class I really wanted to take: Art. In a real art-classroom completely dedicated to making and learning art. I was in heaven. It almost made up for the completely lame excuse of a home-economics class later that same day in which I was instructed how to make a grilled cheese sandwich and a "milk-shake" made without a single scoop of ice-cream - a clear abomination in the household where I grew up. My father signed my class-withdrawal slip himself, and I believe I got to take shop instead. Total win-win.

And that track meet in Rexburg, ID. Spring 1981. I ran my best time in the qualifying heat of the 440-yard (no such thing as the 400m in the U.S. schools back in those days). My cousin Christine came over to the race and we got something to eat afterward, but I can't quite recall anything more - except for the feeling of pure elation that stuck with me for a long time. What put wings on my feet that day? Could have been the sunshine that broke through the rain clouds on that cold spring afternoon, or the way the air moved over the track. Or maybe just plain luck. I would never run a better race again.

 Now smack in the middle of the holidays, it's one week from the start of my first residency in the MFA program at Pacific University, and I am all kinds of excited. Christmas-Barbie-airplane-7th-grade-state-track-meet excited.

Of course, it takes a leap of sorts. The push-off the block at the starting shot. The release of a held breath. A step through an arch to a new freedom.

It could be big.

Feels like a good thing.


"As he swung through the air, trembling, he saw the blackness give way below, like a parting of clouds, to a deep patch of stars on the ground. It was the pond, he hoped, the hole in the woods reflecting the sky. He judged the instant and let go; he flung himself loose into the stars." - The Living, Annie Dillard

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