Although I only made it to three days of Western Connecticut State University's MFA summer residency, I'm still feeling that bizarre culture shock I can only refer to as "the post-residency blues." Yes, back to real life, where we have to deal with muggles who don't know what it's like to "open a vein," as the immortal Don Snyder once put it, in order to perfect your craft and create your art. It almost seems as if each time we return to Danbury, it's as if no time has passed at all, like stepping through the wardrobe once again, as if we were just dreaming the rest of our existence and just woke up in the lobby of the Maron ready to be full-time writers again, if only for a few days.
This time had a particularly bitter-sweet feel for me, as I am now a graduate and the reality is that while many will continue to return for the atmosphere, camaraderie, and insanity that is The Rez, many, due to finances and/or geography, will not. I fear I may have seen some of my dearest friends for the last time. We'll keep in touch of course. Facebook, blogs, email, and I'm even on Twitter now, but something will just not be the same. There's no way to fully replicate what that one week twice a year means for our writing and our friendships.
This was my fifth residency. That's less than five weeks I've spent with these folks, yet they're just as much a part of me as those I've known my whole life. How does something like an MFA program residency bond us so closely? Is it the shared suffering of the tortured artist? The unity created by a common enemy (you know just what I mean)? Or is it something more? I think it has to be the way writers are wired. We're screwed up people. That's all there is to it. It's hard to find anyone messed up enough to share our messedupedness with out there in the real world. Or is it The Rez that becomes our real world, and the surreal life of everyday struggles simply gives us strong enough doses of other people's reality to share in the work we will go on to create because of what we've learned and accomplished at WestConn?
Whatever it is, I can tell it's not ever going to be quite the same. Some day Claudine's slaps in the head will stop. Whitey's bruised foot will no longer be in my mouth. Perrotta's hard floor will be no more, as will Scott's heavy pour. I'll lose Marj as a partner in crime, and I'll no longer spend time wondering if Brian is our Yoda or our Darth Vader. Gilday's almost fiction recollections of residency capers will no longer be read to me. Margaret will cease to be the voice of reason. Rayzer's pink drinks have already disappeared. G-Marr will be just another pretty face on the facebook wall, as will Brophy's sunshiny, Disney, cartoon smile. No more sexual tension between Holub and The Mort, which we all missed this year already. Same to be said for Trudy and 3dlarz. It's all changing.
So while these past few days have been successful--I learned quite a bit about prose poetry, had more fun than I can remember, sang a duet with the worst rapper since Vanilla Ice, got some great feedback from an agent, and pulled off my first official public reading--there's a bitterness in my mouth. Not quite sure how to make it go away. But what I do know is that no matter what becomes of my writing career, I will owe it all to you guys, each and every one of those involved in this program over the past two and a half years. Thanks, and here's to life on The Rez.
MFAers, please comment with your favorite residency memory. Can't wait to read them.