Erik Attends Viable Paradise, Days 4 and 5

Eventually, it becomes impossible to describe something so intensely personal, or a shared experience, without ruining the magic.  I can only show the silhouette of the thing against the sun.

Wednesday morning I slept in, my sleep deprivation and nascent cold catching up with me.  We had the last of our critique groups that morning.  The quality of my critiques had slipped a bit, not least because I was having trouble staying awake in the best of circumstances.

Following the morning’s activities, we were given a blissful half-day off from workshop duties.  Not that we were completely off-the-hook: we still had to prepare for the horror of Thursday, which I shall not describe here.  It was very hard work, however, and many of us had to work in concert to prepare.

About twelve of us spent lunch in town at Linda Jean’s again with Steven G.  By and large, all of the students have co-mingled with most everyone else, but some patterns of socialization began to emerge.  The staff had taken to calling myself and my two roommates as “the traveling trio” because we always seemed to march in lockstep to every lecture and collegium.

The class discovered scurvy cure Wednesday night.  That phrase, “scurvy cure,” is misleading, although it does describe what the hyper-citrus cocktail drink is capable of.

Thursday, better-rested and prepared for the Horror that afternoon, I was able to walk with Jim and a few others in the morning.  We saw a beautiful sunrise, like a red lantern through parchment paper, over the sea near Oak Bluffs.

My cough had grown worse; nasal drip was keeping me from getting good sleep.  I suspected allergies earlier in the week, but the accompanying fatigue suggested something else. By then I had been running on Coke Zero, hummus sandwiches, beer, and whatever delicious dinners the staff cooked for us.  Wednesday night’s meal was corn chowder; Thursday night’s was a delicious curry. Despite the best efforts of the staff, however, some of us (such as myself) will be wont to run ourselves into the ground anyway.

Thursday afternoon, the Horror occurred.  Even if I could talk about it on a public space, I have such mixed, intense emotions about the experience that I would have trouble putting it down.  I’ll leave you with this image in its place: Luke, in The Empire Strikes Back, taunted by Darth Vader, his arm amputated and cauterized.  He jumps.

I’ve had the chance to talk to nearly every one of my fellow students here.  Inevitably, I’ve bonded more with some than others, due to group dynamics.  Everyone here has been friendly and authentic in their enthusiasm and dedication to the craft.  I had no idea that I would find this level of camaraderie here.

It has also been somewhat distracting, though in a pleasant way, when one student in particular you can’t seem to spend enough time with.  There’s the shared love of genre literature and its conventions, demonstrated by everyone you meet here.  Yet there’s also the passions for individual works, ones that inspired you to walk this path of madness in the first place, that draw you to someone if you share them.  I may not have any kind of future with this person after we all leave the island, but it’s been hard to get her out of my mind, even while writing about castaway pirates and alien plants.