Friday, July 15, 2016

Thurber House: Day Twenty-One (Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen)

And so we come to the end.

Today was my last full day at Thurber House, the culmination of my month-long stint as their 2016 Children's Writer-in-Residence. Tomorrow, I get up at 5am and catch an early flight back to home and family.

I celebrated today by taking the last of my long walks around the city. I hit the historical town, Topiary Park, downtown, and then went to Wolf's Ridge Brewing for my last taste of Duck Confit Tacos, Habanero Cheesecake, and their amazing Dire Wolf stout (though they were out of the habanero spiced variety). My farewell meal from my favorite Columbus restaurant.

Then in the afternoon, I signed copies of my books for the last batch of campers. Afterwards, I got a lift to The Book Loft of German Village for another signing.

Then it was back here for dinner and packing.

I accomplished a lot done here in Columbus. I finished the second draft of a book I'd been working on since January. I did an enormous amount of research for my next project, part of which involved world-building two fantasy cities. I wrote a stand-alone short story. And I knocked out the first 10,645 words of the new book. And they're good words. (I have the best words!)

But equally or maybe more importantly was the time I've spent teaching children, from the six sessions of camp at the Thurber Center that I taught, to the workshop at Worthington Park Library, to a High School writing group, to trips to the Homeless Families Foundation's Dowd Education Center, the Gladden Community House (a United Way affiliated non-profit agency), and the John Burroughs Elementary School summer school camp (a grant-funded program to provide food and activities to students in a low-income area). All the kids were wonderful, and I've learned so much. Mostly I've learned that children, whatever their backgrounds or opportunities, are bright and polite and positive and hopeful and imaginative and fun-loving and kind. Some of the kids I spoke to have a leg-up on life. And some of the kids I spoke to are starting out several rungs down the ladder from the rest of us. And they were all the same kids. Everyone of them, as capable of anything as anyone of us. Anything that can be done to lift these kids up and let the seeds I saw in them flower is the lord's work, whatever lord you believe in (except maybe Lord Voldemort). I'm really grateful to have met them all in ways I'll never fully express.

And speaking of grateful....

I’m eternally grateful to Thurber House for this amazing opportunity. I’ve loved living in my words and worlds. The people who run Thurber House and make it work are marvelous, and I hope I stay in touch with them and they with me. More than just a place I visited or a vacation I took—I’ve been alone in the house, I’ve received mail to the house, I’ve had guests visit me in the house,  I’ve done multiple loads of laundry and cleaned the kitchen countless times, I’ve even answered the doorbell. And I’ve walked all over Columbus, taking 1.5 to 2 hour walks nearly every day I've been here. This isn’t a place I visited. In a subjective, but very real, sense, Columbus is a place I’ve lived, joining the other cities around the world that I count as places that made me who I am and form a part of my personal narrative. Am I sad to be leaving? I love my family, and miss them, so sad isn't the right word, but this feels like a move does. You know, when you leave a place that you really lived and you know you'll only ever come back as a tourist. Thurber House and Columbus will always be a part of me, and I’ll always be a part of it (unless they paint over my fat signature in the closet and they better not!) Thank you all very, very much! I'm outta here!
                                      — Lou Anders, 2016 Children’s Writer in Residence.

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