I have always found your words inspiring to my own. Our witty banter and clever contests pushed me to use my words wisely.
Joe always pushed us and praised us when praise was due, even to his squirrelly and disproportionately confident college students.
I was very grateful to get these words in response to Plain Secrets. Laura was a bit of a kindred spirit to me as I went through college, and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one pining for the loss of written self in the days that have flowed to numerous to count from our most formative of days.
I’m not sure why I’m mentioning this here, but thinking about Ashland and my time there makes me think of this time of year, especially. Recently, DF (co-worker who was to buy the Coach briefcase, heretofore to be named “DF”) and I were commenting on how beautiful it was to see the trees turning green. And while my absolute favorite time of year is hands-down autumn for reasons I may explain later, there is something about the month of May that instills a lot of enmeshed feelings for me.
Firstly, the artist in me sees the contrast of the gray skies of May and the green of the trees. The color theory of the equation makes the green so much more verdant, the contrast more intense between the bright emerald of the tops of the leaves and the delicate seafoam of the undersides as they turn over, waiting for rain. Everything in May always feels fresh: instead of the crisp cool freshness of early October, it is the wet laundry clean of spring. You smell the loam of the earth that rises from the rain: as there is a distinct smell to death, unmistakable and undeniable, so is there a smell to life – that smell is May. May smells like dirt and rain.
But my memories of May, when I try to think on it, go back to Beaumont, and the different feeling of the spring release (as opposed to the end-of-summer return to school). The wool of our kilts that we wore through the year have become unbearably itchy and hot; sweater vests emblazoned with the school’s distinctive logo have given way to un-tucked and half-buttoned oxford blouses; long hair is pulled back into messy ponytails; and windows are opened to let the forthcoming warmth of inevitable summer in. Then came the months of May in college. The first part of the month spent in Ashland, those two weeks out on the lawn peppered with people both sunbathing and prepping for finals, the second spent at home, relaxing for a few weeks before the summer jobs, started, rife with sticky heat and baked air.
And before I knew it, the last Mays came. In high school, we prepared our senior projects for graduation; we gathered around the statue of the Virgin and laid flowers at her feet, asking for all of the virtues and blessings one woman could give another; we picnicked in the courtyard, lusting after the colleges we were attending, reminiscing of the four years past. …And then we were gone. In college, we sat on the quad, preparing our resumes for eventual jobs, clenching jaws at the bittersweet sting as we packed up dorm rooms and said goodbye to our little community, and pulling down Claremont Avenue for the last time as a resident of Ashland city proper. …And then we were gone.
Can we ever have those days back where our assigned task was to write from our self-conscious depths? When writing was forced upon us in our own best interest?
For me, May will always be the season of endings, but with the hope that beginnings will be sweet and plentiful.