The Beginning of the End (of the Beginning)

Best Western, Seaside, Oregon. So it begins: the final residency of two life-changing years in this MFA program. Our journey progressed like a staged rocket in reverse--instead of jettisoning components as we went, we gathered fellow students into our merry band all along our trajectory. Three of us left Ojai and met two more at LAX. Then we were thirteen on the bus from PDX to Seaside (which made our superstitious driver nervous). Finally, there are scores of us swarming throughout not one but two adjacent hotels.

Though the halls are quiet--partly due to the chilly open balconies--faculty and students are no doubt buzzing like bees in their cells. I suspect this because the WiFi signal is sapped on my floor, probably due to overuse. So, I'll either be posting this when the mass-scale email-checking blitz subsides, or use the old standby--the chilly first-floor laundry room, unsuitable to sustain human life, but great for WiFi.

Val and I were tired from our journey, which began at 7AM, so we ordered up room service--fish & chips & hot cocoa--and flicked on the ceramic-log fire. It is great to finally be here. But lingering at the back of my mind with each new friendly face I meet is the knowledge that I will have no good excuse to return to this place when our ten eleven days together have run their course. We may leave zingers on one another's Facebook status updates, swap the occasional poem or congratulatory note on a publication or award--but the two intense years of stretching together into the writers we always hoped (and still hope) we could someday become--is coming to a close. But not before eight nine days packed full of inspiration, revelation, camaraderie, and, almost certainly: rain, rain, rain.

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