Tag Archives: Goddard College

Nostalgia: Chiclets, pine trees, and dandelions.


Dandelion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What makes it nostalgia is that I will never really get it back, also that I never necessarily had it in the first place.  It might be the lemony-citrus sun dazing behind my yard’s pines, or a rambling, ambiguous decade and its context, or my mother’s Renault, a pair of peacock feather earrings, or, more likely, the specks of dust between all of these things that I can’t ever hold in my hands.

I hate philosophy.

A couple weeks back, my father and I explored the old barn foundation behind my house.  I collected an amber 1970s beer bottle, a scrap of brocade-like wallpaper, a piece of metal with the inscription Quaker City 5, and a clear glass bottle.  We pushed through the twigs and not yet blossomed elbows of trees, cracking and crunching through an abandoned moment.

My father fell in the scratchy patch so slowly that I wondered if he was losing his balance or attempting to sit.  I held scraps and bottles in my arms and, after standing himself back up, he carried the bottles for me.

“You okay?” I asked.  I was the child, the one who was supposed to fall.

The sun was coming through the trees like it always did, like it always had.

My father smelled of nostalgia.  Patchouli and cigarettes and responsibility.  Worn denim and Chamois shirts.  Records and taupe and Chevy Blazers and dandelions.

I was supposed to have fallen instead.  I smelled like Chiclet bubble gum, my two young children, metal swing sets, clumsiness and shampoo and borrowed money.

I didn’t fall.  Nostalgia surprised me.

Now, when I look back to the foundation, the leaves fold down around it.  The wall of heavy stones can hardly peek out from behind all the nature.  In front of the old foundation is a leftover dog house from the prior owners–distressed red over plywood, simple lines, mossing shingles.  That dog was a yellow lab, I bet, a bounding, mud-hungry, stick-eater that would love my dog, Molly.  They would sit in the hot afternoon sun near the pine trees, panting together.

When I begin my MFA in CW at Goddard College this summer, my plan is (for now) to run recklessly into nostalgia like a puddle, to roll down the childhood hill in my parent’s backyard into it, to let its grass leave green crosshatching on the skin of my legs and dandelion dander on my cheeks. What I mean is this: I live nearly every moment in hopes that it will be like some moment I’ve already lived.  I can’t get away from a setting, context, or moment I’ve lived or wish I’d lived.

I’m struck by the pulsing sun glowing behind the pine trees just west of my house, a view I imagine I share with the college students who rented rooms here in the 70s.  I was never there, but I can get there if I just write it.


MFA Update: Unlucky Wagers

Deutsch: English: U.S. Mail Storage Box

Image via Wikipedia

I sat on the floor in my study tonight, printing the Sample Residency packet that Goddard emailed me.  It was 31 pages long.

White sheets of paper shot out from my printer, one after another, and I rushed to get them in order as though they weren’t numbered.  On page 17, I held out my hand just to see if I could catch one.  And I did.  Then another.  And then I wagered, like this:  If I catch the next sheet that flies out of my printer, I will get into all three programs.  The paper hit the flesh between my thumb and forefinger, slice first, then bounced off, landing on the floor a foot away.   So close.

Earlier today, I jumped over a puddle to my mailbox.  There was a stack of mail in it.  Aha!  I love mail.

Federal holidays make me sad.

I will never stop ordering magazines.

Here’s what was inside: The Red Plum junk mail insert, The New Yorker begging me to renew, Poets & Writers (excitement), National Grid (bummer), and then, a nice big envelope from Bennington College (!!).

I tore it open as soon as I could.  Could they have already decided?  No.  I know better.  They couldn’t have.  They hadn’t.

So far, we have received everything for your application except one of your recommendation letters.  Oh, and here’s this, a blue pamphlet with more information about our program, a moody gray-blue paper folded in half that matches the picture on our website.  In the picture, there’s a banker’s lamp on the desk, and open books, glasses (which I should wear, but don’t–a sign?), a plant.

I’m looking at the pamphlet again, right now.

“Read one hundred books.  Write one,” it reads.

I want to sit there.  But I don’t see a chair.  Plus the desk in the picture is messy, and I want to clean it.

This beautiful pamphlet is just a whiff of good cologne.  Tease.

Next time I see the Bennington logo on an envelope it will hold the news I’m waiting for.