The sun rises earlier, the nights are warmer, yellow pollen is in the air, and Flagstaff’s population shifts from students at the University to tourists on their way to the Grand Canyon or Lake Powell. Like birds in migration, people move backward or forward in summer, propelled into greener forests, taller mountains, warmer beaches. Among those birds in migration, I am absent. I am still perched in Flagstaff.
My time at Northern Arizona University is over; my time at the University of Nebraska has yet to begin. Now I’m in limbo, with no schoolwork, no tests, and lots of free time on my hands. I still have to pack up my life and move to a new state, but I will not be moving for a while, which means I suddenly have no major obligations. After four years of deadlines and assignments, I hardly know what to do with myself.
So far, I’ve been spending my time exploring parts of Arizona I haven’t seen much, like Prescott and Jerome; I’ve been camping, doodling, learning to play the mandolin, working through my reading list of over twenty books (I’m seven books in), and trying to teach my dog that fetch requires letting go of the ball.
I’ve also taken advantage of the free time by writing, or trying to at least. But I feel like I’m in an episode of The Twilight Zone, “Time Enough at Last,” in which the main character Henry finally has enough time to read all the books he can after he becomes the only survivor of a nuclear war. Being The Twilight Zone, poor Henry’s thick glasses slide from his nose and break, rendering him too blind to read. Like Henry, I have plenty of time to do what I love most, more time than I’ll probably ever have again, but something about this summer limbo is blinding me from my creative intuition.
Being in Flagstaff is a nice way to spend the summer. I may not need greener forests, taller mountains, or warmer beaches, but I do need something to realign the way I see my writing, a new perspective, something wrought from a new experience. I’ve had some fantastic experiences this summer, but being stuck between two worlds, physically and emotionally, is disconcerting. Hopefully I’ll break out from this creative complacency soon.