The Long, Slow Moments

goodbyeThe Invictus Writers celebration dinner was tonight at Red Lobster in Anderson, Indiana, a little rural town tucked neatly between Muncie and Indianapolis.

It was a good night. The seven writers from this year’s project (plus one lovely girlfriend) were joined by six potential writers on next year’s project.

For 2 1/2 hours, we laughed and told stories. We tried to answer questions from the new folks. We said thank you to each other. Mostly we just enjoyed the company of each other.

These are the long, slow moments of life, the calm between the crashes where life has meaning. Too often we’re sprinting from one BIG thing to the next BIG thing. Everything is an emergency. Not tonight. Tonight we reveled in stories, and laugher, in the human-ness of the experience of the writing.

“Remember that you made a thing,” I told my writers as the night drew to a close. “Lots of people talk about doing that. You did it. That means something.”

They will soon move out into the world, into the raging river of life. Currents will carry them away in directions yet unknown. No matter where they go, though, they will remember this project and this night. I know this because nobody wanted the night to end. We lingered. We held on. We stalled.

And then we ran away. There were no long goodbyes, nor hugs, nor tears. Not at the restaurant. Maybe not even in the cars on the way home. There was no sense of closure because for this group there is no end.

Surely they will go their own ways. They may lose contact with each other. They may lose contact with me. Yet none of that changes the long, slow moments we had tonight, the ones that will live forever bouncing around deep within us.

My drive home was slow. While I know there will be more adventures to follow, I know this one is very near its end. I am not good with endings. I am too familiar with the badness that exists in the world to comfortably enjoy the end of goodness.

Time does not share my concern. It simply marches on.

When I arrived home, I opened the bag Laura Allen had given me before I left. It was a signed copy of the Running Times issue with her story “The Other College Runners,” her much talked about story. Also in the bag was that Thank You Very Much card.

As I read it, I tears welled in my eyes. Some for reasons that are mine. Others for reasons you can find here.

Some came because endings are sad. There is a great melancholy that comes with completion. The realization your hard work is yours alone, unknowable to the rest of the world, creates empty spaces in life. These spaces are made easier by shared experiences. When the collective scatters, all that is left is the emptiness.

And the memories.