Archive for literature

Happy Trails

Dear Adair,

I find myself lacking the ability to begin a paragraph today. I’ve done this enough times in my life. I do this daily. Tens or hundreds of thousand of paragraphs later and I am stalled. I can’t think where to begin this end. How do you start a goodbye?

When we (unsurprisingly) unanimously brought up the end date for this project, the date seemed symmetrical and convenient. September makes sense since that is when we began. But as the month has come and gone, it has been remarkably challenging to write these final pieces. The deed seems so much more weighted, even though we are beyond practiced at it at this point. But still the end seemed to add stakes to a very low risk idea. These letters between friends became final thoughts in a conversation that has lasted all night but you still cannot end even as the sun begins to rise.

But end it must. The limits to the format and the range of topics we are willing to explore here is becoming clear. New projects have hijacked the creativity this project began to stoke. And like so many productions and rituals from our lives, this too must end.

I’m proud of this blog. It made me write every week, it made me more practiced and made me work at something only for its own sake. I’m pleased that the outcome could be consistent and as polished as we could get it. And I’m glad that the works created were of great enough impact and interest to us to start a second writing endeavor and began plans for others still. The spark it fanned will not be dying in the near future.

But real gain from Tales from Two Cities was not the habitual writing, but the exploration of a friendship. Through all the new discoveries, forgotten connections, hurt feelings, and perceived digital pressure, we know each other better for having embarked on this together. We have shared family history, hidden passions, cursed our shortcomings, and rallied behind our creative strives. Working together on this made the apathy of long distance friendship impossible. We had to talk, and share, and grow. With new works coming together, I know we can be sure of this continued growth as writers and people.

I’d like to say thank you for suggesting we do this. I feel more involved in your life and more connected as an artist because of this. In fact, the community I’ve felt from working with you has rippled out to every corner of my creative life. For your impact, your editing and your friendship, I thank you.

For the last time, but not the last time,

-Danimg_5123

Maybe This Time

Adair,

It’s odd how January never seems like the new year to me. I’ve mentioned how my birthday is usually my marker for the beginning of a new year, both because July is a more optimistic time than the dead of winter, and it’s in line with my inflated ego to reorient the calendar around me. But there are other moments, my anniversary, the beginning of the school year, and Christmas that also make me pause and think about the year past and the year ahead.

If I had to look ahead right now, I’d be thinking about another year in New York. Another fall that just makes me feel like I’m in When Harry Met Sally, a winter that snows us in just once, a spring that begs for pictures in parks, and another summer sweating in the subway and longing for relief.

The next year is going to see a lot of new projects, and a push like never before to create things on my terms. Working with you has opened me up to working with other partners, and those relationships are beginning to blossom into new ventures that may well be “the project.”

Another year will bring another year of marriage and the wonderful joys and inevitable hurts of a life long partnership. We are also striving to create together, which brings us back to the army days of our friendship working together. This summer’s production of The Last Five Years reminded me of the importance of our creative connection and what beautiful richness that adds to our lives.

My apartment is changing layout and design, I’m changing my diet, having a car is changing our transportation, and the relationships in my life keep changing the creative means I have at my disposal. The next year is going to be one for the record books, no matter how it all turns out.

But why am I looking ahead in the middle of September? What marks this as a moment of reflection and resolve? I’m giving pause right now because in a year we won’t be writing these letters. At the end of this month, we will be finished with this project and moving on to another. I won’t begin to tackle what that means in this letter, but I know that whatever comes next, we’ll still be bothering each other about it every week.

Same time next year?

-Dan

New York’s Not My Home

Adair,

Much of my time in New York has been spent in the service of others. Not in the “feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless” way but more in the “on the rocks or up?” sort of way.  And while I don’t want to bartend forever, I must admit that I do like my job the majority of the time. It’s not a vast majority, certainly not enough to amend the constitution, but over 50% of the time, I like it.

I have an interest in alcohol, I enjoy the social experiment of watching people interact while drinking, but most of all, I love stories. And it’s the stories of my patrons that I will remember long after the stink of beer is washed out of my clothes and my tips have all been spent.

One such story belongs to Grace.

Grace is who I think of when I think of a New Yorker. She’s tough, opinionated, and not afraid of anyone. She has her standards and she knows what she likes. She doesn’t like how the city is changing, but she loves all the new places to eat. Grace is all of us after a few decades in Manhattan.

Grace is a firecracker. And I mean that how a 1930’s newspaper editor would have used it. She has so much spunk and moxie that while in her seventies, I have no doubt that she could match wits with anyone who dared to challenge her. Having written and published two novels that are still in print, she was already a hero of mine, but in one night she become someone who I know I will never forget.

One night back in April, Grace and I were doing our usual routine. She came in from her apartment which is on the same block as the bar, and I greeted her with a rhetorical “would you like a Prosecco?” I poured her drink and, as a writer, Grace extended her routine but earnest inquiry into my creative life. “How’s it going? What are you working on?” Without fail, she would ask about my writing. And this night, I was honest about my struggles.

I said, “Grace, I can’t wait until I can wake up somewhere quiet, make coffee, take the dog on a walk, come back, sit down at a desk of my own, and just write.” Grace looked away and considered my words for a moment. “Well, would you like to come and stay at my house in Maine?”

In that moment, I could have cried. I took it as a joke, but she was serious. She offered to let us stay in the off season, September-April rent free so I could have a writing retreat. “Now you would have to pay for the heat,” she added as a qualifier. But the wood to burn in the stove of the 1860 built Victorian getaway for a whole winter would have cost less than our Metro cards for the month.

The kindness of an established writer who genuinely wanted to help another artist was remarkable. Never in my life had I been so flattered and thankful for a gift. And in my mind, that will always be how I remember New York. Busting my ass at my job and trying to make real relationships, and seeing those relationships blossom into something truly special.

As you know, for a couple different reasons, this offer didn’t work out. However, it was and will remain a real benchmark in human kindness that I have experienced in New York and beyond. And one day, I hope I can do the same for another writer.

Thankful,

-Dan

Try A Little Tenderness

Dan,

I think we can both agree that we try to make the most of the opportunities given to us. We fight hard for our achievements but we also recognize that we are lucky to be in that position. We appreciate the beauty of pursuing passions and dreams. Our lives are not perfect, we still battle our respective windmills, but we are living a lucky existence.

This being said, something I’ve seen as a habit for myself is the growing impatience I have with the pace of those around me. I’m a fairly lighthearted person in the day to day but I also know what it is to hurt and struggle to claim your own identity. I spent years floundering, fighting upstream to get to the place I find myself at now.

I have a job I love, friends who support me, family who understands me, passions that drive me and I reside in a city that constantly inspires me. I am living the life I worked for, I am the woman I struggled to become and now I feel like I’m waiting for the world around me to catch up.

The projects I help on thrill me but do not feel completed in the way I desire them to. The financial goals I have for myself are established but nowhere near accomplished. And I see people around me focus on what goes wrong rather than embracing how lucky we are to be given the opportunities we are offered, and taking action and make our lives better.

I know I fall victim to wallowing, overthinking and depression but I am able to dig myself out. I spent so long feeling so helpless that I don’t want to waste my limited time focusing on what I can’t have. I want to create, live and grow and I want to recognize every day how lucky I am to have these options.

Despite this I become impatient, I want my life to feel more like it’s “started.” I don’t want to wait on others; I want them to be at this ready place as well. But that’s not how life works is it? Part of embracing existence and learning is recognizing you may be alone in this some days. People, projects and jobs may hinder you at times; you may even become your own obstacle. Knowing this is half the battle and allowing life to go at whatever pace it needs to is the other half.

Practicing Patience,

Adair