As much as I love Big Creative Writing Conference, I will be the first to admit that I don’t really fit in. I’d rather sleep in a tent than a big city hotel, I get headaches if I spend too much time in windowless conference rooms, and elevators make me feel claustrophobic. Hotel bars would go bankrupt if they had to rely on me as a customer, since all I ever order is ginger ale.
But luckily, my conference friends are grounded, normal people. They hug me. They make me take the time for leisurely meals. They drag me out of the hotel to walk in the fresh air. They tell me about their families and canoe trips and hiking plans. And they willingly take off their clothes when I need a photo for my blog.
“Sure, I’ll do it,” Lovely Maine Writer said without hesitation. We were rooming together. She’d just come in from running and was stripping her clothes off to take a shower.
“How about if I wear leather boots and nothing else?” she asked. That’s the kind of forward-thinking I look for in a roommate. She leaned back against the dresser, put her foot up on a chair. I snapped a few photos. The tough girl pose was great, really it was, but I felt like we needed something more.
“What if we move the table, turn the chair sideways – make kind of a platform?” I asked. “Then we could get your whole body up into the light of the window.”
She helped me flip the heavy chair onto its side. “Here I am, naked — moving furniture,” she said, laughing. “THIS is what rooming with you is like.”
“I wish we could take the photo outside,” I muttered. “I’m always stuck in these hotel rooms, with not enough light. And stupid windows that aren’t big enough.”
I played around with the settings on my camera, trying to account for the size of the window. Lovely Maine Writer was most cooperative. Balanced precariously atop the pile of furniture, she yanked at the top of the curtain to let in more light. I heard a ripping sound. “Hmmm,” she said. “This room. Is it under your name or mine?”
In the end, we settled on something simple. We moved out the furniture, and she did a yoga pose. “It’s called tree,” she said, standing on one leg, curving her arms like branches. The morning light fell across her limbs.
She stood there, without moving, rooted and strong.
Lovely Maine Writer can be as silly as a seventh grader when we’re hanging out at a party. I’ve seen her flirt with an elderly man because his scarf matched her skirt. But she also has the intensity to write brilliant pieces of prose, to edit a successful journal. She can read culinary eroticism one minute and talk about her dog the next. She’s a smart, complicated woman.
She’s beautiful, so any pose would have looked good, but we chose the photo that highlights the aspect of her that I admire the most. She is rooted in what she values. She will do anything for the people she loves, and she draws strength from her time outdoors, whether it’s running in the city or sailing in the middle of the ocean. She is always learning and growing. She is tree, stretching toward sky.