Cool. Now let's get down to business.
About two years go, as I was preparing to leave Lima for the first time, I began writing "something;" lack of a better word means I have to use that vague title. Honestly, I wasn't sure what I was trying to create. At times it felt like an essay written in verse, sometimes it was just a series of one-liners, and other times still I wanted to take everything written down, blend it down, pour into a shot glass, and drink it down.
and too much
I took my first formal creative writing class with hopes of deciphering my head's contents. "If I can turn writing into schoolwork," I thought, "I'll force myself to dig that annoying sucker out." It's a lot like inviting all of your friends to a party at your place just so you finally have motivation to clean up your house and yourself: if strangers are going to judge my writing in person, it has to be presentable.
I was right and wrong. I sorted the contents of my brain but that only further frustrated me, for I still couldn't get the most important things out and onto paper. Assignment after assignment, I handed in failed attempts of what I really wanted to say. Week after week, however, I got by. Nobody was going to challenge me to reach deeper, and, as a senior in college, I sure as hell wasn't going to challenge myself. Besides, I was getting by.
As I'd done my whole life, I self-pardoned my mediocrity and lashed out at others: either explicitly or just in my thoughts--I forgave my self-assumed shortcomings by highlighting them in other people. A disorganized, pretentious draft feels less so if it isn't the least organized, pretentious draft in class.
So grew my discontent
so suffered my content
so long inspiration
so long ago, I lost you.
There is one image, though, that stuck with me from that class. While discussing word choice, my professor drew the analogy that most writers are like baseball pitchers--accurate, and impressively so--but poets have to strive to be like knife-throwers: perfect, nothing less.
At any rate, I left the class, bitter; I graduated from college, bitter; and that fall I left the U.S, bitter. While studying for a semester in Lima, I'd discovered a life that, to borrow James Baldwin's words, "seemed to be occurring beneath the sea, time flowed past, indifferently above us, hours and days had no meaning" (Giovanni's Room 281). While those on the surface battled waves and storms and the clashing of water to land, I floated under all of it. Suspended between my ideas and dreams with neither urgency nor boredom to push me. If you're not going to do what you do, you may as well not do it in a place you love.
Although, after a few weeks beneath Lima's permagray, I picked up a pen. Shortly after that, I decided I couldn't stay. Ironically, living in a place where I felt free to do and think and write forced me to challenge myself: I couldn't do this back in the states, really? Even baseball pitchers have to play in cold, rainy weather sometimes, and here I was writing a novel in English in a place where hardly anyone would ever read it.
Because here's the real secret behind paradise: it's exactly like love. Finding a place where you feel so connected and like you never want to leave is beautiful and warming: falling in love with someone will make even the most hardened of people feel like their insides are made of bubbles. Living in paradise, however, you realize you can't possibly stay. Much like how there is no such thing as "happily ever after" and relationships are actually the start and the end of something really really beautiful
Someday, someday soon
I'll find that place where I can belong
Belong and remain
And, though it may sound arrogant, I know Lima, Lima as I love it, will always exist in some form; for it wasn't so much the physical place that is Lima, as it was the people who surrounded me there. I want to close out this post by once again borrowing from Mr. James Baldwin, but with some modification:
I love a few people and they love me, and some of them are Peruvian, and some of them are American, and some of them are white, and some of them old, and some of them are broken, and isn't love more important than difference (The Fire Next Time 327).
I would like to thank everyone who I came to meet and know during my months in Lima, I miss you all deerly! And to all my friends, here, there, and anywhere, I'll try to keep you all posted as my different projects begin to come together. In the meantime:
Jam out to LCD Soundsystem and listen to my podcast!