It has been one year since I graduated from the MFA program at Seattle Pacific University. I’m remembering waking up early to write before class, at a table beneath a big window in my upstairs room. I’m remembering the snow that surprised us toward the end of the week, hushing everything under a thick white blanket. I’m remembering the winter we spent hauling all 1,000+ pages of Sigrid Undset’s trilogy around with us. Set in medieval Norway, Kristin Lavransdatter is a darkly beautiful epic, built on the inner lives of a knot of characters whose flaws bind them painfully to each other. A few of us loved the book, including me.
The last week of the residency, Rachel and I both showed up for breakfast wearing “Kristin braids,” hair piled up and pinned so the wind wouldn’t knock it loose. I have short hair again, but at the residency it was long. This style used to be my remedy for melancholy– waking up to a gray day, after fitful sleep or a late-night deadline. Piling my hair on the top of my head in braids, I felt suddenly taller, fancier. Even in jeans, even under an umbrella.
When I married, my hair wasn’t quite to my shoulders, but with enough pins and flowers, who could tell?