I didn't do any writing this weekend. Wellll, that's not exactly true; I wrote this, "My kitchen is a damned mess." That's the possible opening line to a short story (set in the Painted Ocean universe) called, The View Never Changes. It's another case of my having an idea that didn't seem to work, then stumbling onto a really neat, interesting way to make it work.
But I digress.
I didn't do any writing this weekend. I had my laptop, to be sure, but that was mostly a what if type of thing. A just in case type of thing.
I didn't do any writing this weekend because Jessy, Layla, and I went away to Wisconsin for the weekend. My friends Chris and Janice were getting married and there was no way we were going to miss it.
How was the wedding? It was wonderful. It was perfectly Chris and Janice. They had a tent up in their backyard, they had a band and BBQ and friends and family. There was a monstrous thunderstorm right in the middle which everyone seemed to enjoy. People were dancing in their muddy feet. Layla partied until she literally collapsed in my arms; I had to carry her back to the car and she didn't wake up until we got her back to our hotel room.
It was great.
We were away from Thursday night to Monday night. The wedding was in Madison, which is not-coincidentally where Chris and I went to college together. It's also not-coincidentally the city where Galen Winters (the main character and narrator of Beautiful Handcrafted Animals) went to school. The story isn't biographical, and a lot of my references are somewhat dated -- the city is so different and so similar it's rather eerie -- but we had a good time pushing Layla around State Street, the main road which connects the college campus with the state capitol.
Madison is one of those cities where, when you visit, it's difficult to leave. There's just so much to do, and see, it almost seems impossible it's all crammed into one place. I write this as a (more or less) lifetime New Yorker, so I know a thing or two about densely-packed cities. We spent four days and four nights there, visiting old haunts and exploring new ones, and we didn't even scratch the surface.
For me, Madison is magical. Wisconsin is magical. I've always felt my four years in college were really where I came into my own as a person. I did a tonof writing when I was an undergraduate. Most of it wasn't very good (though there are stories I'm still quite fond of, warts and all), but I firmly believe it's important to do a lot of bad writing before you can get to the good stuff.
We're home now, after some silly delays the airline tried to blame on weather which -- hey, I've got a supercomputer in my pocket; I can see it's not raining in New York, so don't try to lay your crap off on Mother Nature -- didn't, strictly speaking, exist. Life marches on. But it was nice, as I'm chugging along, finishing up The King's Glamour and leading up to what will hopefully be the final revision on Beautiful Handcrafted Animals, going back to my roots (so to speak).
I think everyone has a place that's like Madison for me. The place where, though it might not be home, it's maybe better in some ways. It's your place, the place where you don't have to recognize the new buildings or even remember exactly how to find your way around the old streets, but it's still the place you know.
I'll get some writing done tonight. Maybe I'll polish off Chapter Eleven in the next few days. Is that because we were in Madison this weekend? Did I charge my batteries? Nah. But I'll be remembering sitting in my dorm room, hunched over the keyboard of my old, old Macintosh LC (a powerhouse of a computer if ever there was one -- it had an external tape drive!), working on stories I thought were so important and which, it turns out, truly were, only not in the way I thought.
Madison. Always good to know you can go home again.