I drew floorplans, where every room took the shape of a rectangle, where the second of three floors consisted entirely of a library which I envisioned as one of those magical, two-story rooms with mahogany shelves and ladders and spiral iron staircases and a massive fireplace to read in front of and leather couches with white fur blankets slung over them to cuddle up in on cold night.
Looking back, I can see how utterly uncreative I was, that house all boxes and 90 degree angles. But I had my priorities right. And as I grew older, that library grew to be my writing room, a large mahogany desk taking center stage by the windows overlooking the cliffs and outstretched ocean. There would be a typewriter on that desk - one of those old black manual ones with the mother-of-pearl keys - and a banker's lamp, because nothing seemed cooler than a green-hooded lamp.
When I met the wonderful writers that became my first critique group, we talked about flying in from around the globe to meet somewhere, spend a weekend in a writer's heaven. It was a grand dream... grand enough for my Maine house. So that became our running joke - that we would meet there, at the Maine house. We'd write all day, and in the evenings we'd sit around and drink wine and talk about books and writing and all the things the people we saw everyday only vaguely understood. And I knew I'd need to put a porch on that deck for us all the sit out and enjoy the fresh air. So I imagined that porch into my dream.
More than a home, my dream became being with those writers, somewhere away from the traffic and superstores and raging suburbanites. And then I went to residency at Pacific. And I realized it wasn't just a dream. At least, not the house.
Every night, every lunch, every walk across campus I'd revel in the conversations of other writers. Late at night, we'd sit in our dorm living room and talk about oxford commas and diagram sentences and argue the value of certain writers. We talk about our writing, about careers, about dreams and dream crushers. It was a little slice of paradise.
A friend recently posted a poem on facebook called "Plans," by Stuart Dischell. If you want to read it, you can find it here. It begins:
She plans to be a writer one day and live in the City of Paris,
Where she will describe the sun as it rises over Buttes-Chaumont.
"Today the dawn began in small pieces, sharp wedges of light
Broke through the clouds." She plans to write better than this
And is critic enough to know "sharp wedges" sound like cheese.
She plans to live alone in a place that has a terrace
Where she will drink strong coffee at a round white table....
It made me think of my Maine house, and of my dreams, some of which have come true and others of which are still waiting for their day. Maybe I will never own that stone home on the cliff overlooking the ocean. Maybe I will never have a library that looks like something one would find at Cambridge. But it never hurts to dream it could still happen.
And in the meantime, I'll revel in the fact that I have what is most important about that dream: the friends who will gather with me - around a fireplace, a dorm room, or an email chat group - to drink a little wine, debate the merits of grammar rules, discuss books, and commiserate about how awful/awesome it is to be a writer. But mostly, how awesome.