I remember my senior year in high school going into the guidance counselor and saying, “I want to go to a school that’s like a big library, and I can read something that leads me to something else, and talk about it, and study it, and just follow wherever that leads me.” He said, “You applied to the wrong schools.” He was right. Radcliffe in the late 60’s was nothing at all like that, and I wound up on a very long leave of absence in the middle of my junior year. I don’t regret it though, because I met Larry through a poem of mine, published in the Harvard Advocate in 1967, called “Chameleons in Captivity.” He was in graduate school in creative writing as San Francisco State, and someone in his class was a Harvard grad and subscribed to the Advocate and brought in the poem. Larry wrote me my first fan letter, that began “Dear Meryl, if this is your real name,” and ended “I enclose some poems to see if you think a relationship might be fruitful.” The poem and the letter are in some box somewhere. I want to put them here when I find them, but that could be years from now! In any case, 42 years, 4 children, and a lifetime later, I feel that I got everything I could ask for from my college experience except the intellectual experience I described to my guidance counselor.
But the Internet provides that experience. It allows me to wander from one thought to the next, to explore ideas and see where they take me. The only thing missing is the community of the campus. My hope is that this blog will help provide that connectedness. The life I have lead during my extended leave has been one of an outlier. Traveled to Europe, spent a number of years on the Mendocino Coast, and Oregon, moved to the Bay Area in the late 70’s. In the early 80’s I got my first real job, as a technical writer, and after a year went out on my own. With no business background, I managed to start a business, mostly because as a contract writer I was paranoid about having enough work, and said yes to everything, then hired other writers to help.
Last year, I completed a sale of the resulting company, TechProse, to the employees. It was very satisfying—they got the company, and I got enough from the company’s profits over the years to retire. So now I can fully pursue the education I missed, as well as poetry, garden and a small sustainable backyard eco-system with chickens and soon ducks and rabbits, cooking, labyrinths, and some work in my geographic community, which is Kensington, California (north of Berkeley). It’s been a convoluted journey, going as Albee said in Zoo Story “a long way out of my way to come back a short distance correctly.” At this moment, it feels delightful, and this potentially labyrinthine blog should help connect with those of you who share these interests.
4 thoughts on “A long way out of my way”
I’ve kept a photoblog for a little over five years now and think that you will enjoy blogging too.
Photoblog is here: http://moblog.net/factotum/
Meryl: Keep writing! You have great potential!
Maybe someday you will post the poem that changed the course of your life. Would love to read it…
When I find it, I will! And the letter, too.