All Roads Lead to Sewanee

“I thought there’d be time, you know. Turns out, it’s just roads.” – motorcycle guy on Californication

Sometimes you hear something like this from a random character on a television show that has since been canceled, so you are watching it on Netflix, and the line sort of grabs you by the gut, unexpectedly, with so much force that your eyes tear up a little during the musical montage that follows.

I have to admit: I love these moments. I love when life clutches you by the collar and pulls you in, face-to-face, to whisper to your insides. There are scenes in film that can do this, certain songs or videos that can do this, and places that can do this.

For me, all roads lead to Sewanee.

I am not alone in this. Between the Rivendell Writers’ Colony and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, there are murders of writers who know the magic of the mountain. While Hananah attended the conference this summer, I rented a cabin nearby. I walked through the graveyard everyday to attend a public conference reading and to sit at the quaint, yellow coffeehouse called Stirlings. I got an iced coffee called Cool Sewanee Morning (chocolate mint) and sat on the porch swing to read from Still Writing by Dani Shapiro. I gazed off bluffs and hiked the trails and swam in the res and rolled in the grass. (On Hananah’s birthday, we rolled down the hill at Green’s View in the moonlight, counting our rolls so we didn’t tumble off the bluff.)

[An average day in Sewanee that begins at Green’s View]

How did I have the energy for all of this? I consumed no less than 5 cheeseburgers from Shenanigans to keep my girlish figure, of course.

Then one evening, I sat alone on the porch of The Blue Chair with a beer and a book. Two musicians came up to do a sound check for their performance that night. This sound check turned into a private concert on a breezy summer evening, the kind where the heat has finally taken a break, so everyone walks around a little lighter.

This was one of those moments. Unexpected. Life pulled me in by the shirt and whispered at me to be happy.

A graveyard gate
A graveyard gate

I had spent some time recently conflicted about turning down a generous offer from a writing residency this year. The timing turned out to be bad, and I may revisit the opportunity with them in the future, but after visiting the mountain again this summer, I realized it’s really all I need. Whether I am at the conference or at Rivendell or in a cabin, Sewanee refreshes and inspires. It is the home for my writing spirit. Getting a cabin while the conference was going on was a little risky. I met many writers who were attending, and I had to have the conversation often that I was not actually attending. This could have been embarrassing except for the fact that everyone I met was badass and didn’t care if I had a lanyard. (Note to Self: write an ode to the beloved Sewanee lanyard.) Fear of awkwardness or shame almost kept me away, but I decided to travel that road instead of waiting for a better time. As random motorcycle guy on Californication’s sixth season helped me understand: Life as time is waiting. Life as roads is living.

Pick one. But go.
Pick one. But go.
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