books · life

a solitude

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My trip to the University of Florida’s George A. Smathers Special and Area Collections for my ongoing research on Zora Neale Hurston’s time in Miami was cut short by the onset of the beginnings of bronchitis. A bartender in Gainesville’s airport suggested brandy to cut through the congestion in my chest, but he had none. He promised me that Charlotte’s airport would have plenty of that or something similar. Have a long layover in Charlotte where, indeed, bartender here suggested Hennessey, but he had no tea. He patiently waited while I hunted down tea, honey and lemon. Had no idea Henny cost so much. I added to my mint tea as I cool my heels with long layover in Charlotte. Oh for my bed.

But I am swooning. Before I left home, I picked up one of my favorite books: May Sarton’s Journal of A Solitude. The cover fell off. I first read it when I was about 21. Bought it in Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida.

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It’s all marked up. Key thought for me is the promise of getting back to one’s center after the busyness of life.

Thank you, Sheila Linehan Nudd, for showing me May’s last house when I visited her estate sale many years ago following her passing. I just read the journal entry where she mentions that seaside house for the first time. She was 58 when she wrote that entry.

I am on the eve of my 53 birthday.

IMG_8309.JPGShe felt “old” when I first read this. Of course, 58 feels young now that I am “older.”

But here’s the thing I most want to share: It was so cool telling a student in my American Civ class as she turned in her final exam about this book. She was on her way to Vermont. I’ll never forget the day I opened a page during a road trip through Vermont and seeing mention of Brattleboro as we entered Brattleboro. I was about this student’s age. So many discoveries since then. So many more to come.

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