Today I picked up my manuscript at Staples and brought it home. I inspected it briefly, rearranged the documents somewhat, and then brought it to UPS to have it shipped out to Goddard College in Port Townsend, WA.
When I picked it up at Staples, I felt like I was picking up a precious child at the airport. That was how it felt. I took my baby home, wrapped in plastic bags so she wouldn’t get wet. It wasn’t actually raining, but I wanted to be extra certain that she’d be safe.
Once home, I took everything off my coffee table and wiped it down, then placed the special box on the table. I got Puzzle out of the way so that her little wet nose wouldn’t get on the papers. Then, I opened the box.
Inside wasn’t a child at all, but ashes. This manuscript, a work that I had made myself, reminded me of my dogs’ ashes. Here was the work of five and a half years in one box, 387 pages. And all this was ashes, of no value, but priceless. I nearly wept.
I rearranged the pages, careful not to disturb them too much. I to arrange my creative thesis first, then my long critical paper, followed by my process paper, then my annotated bibliography, teaching essay, and general bibliography, all framed by the title page, table of contents, and separator pages. Once these were in order, I gingerly placed the papers back into their urn box, and closed the lid.
I wrapped the box back into plastic bags, then brought it to the UPS store. Still, the rain held off. Here, I said goodbye to my baby, and watched as the fellow behind the counter carried her into the back room, and out of view.
And as I walked home, I imagined the package in a big UPS truck, traveling across the miles and miles of highway of this great country, through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and beyond, until it finally reaches Goddard College, in the remote town of Port Townsend, Washington. Joyce Gustafson, dressed in a gray turtleneck, receives the package, thanks the driver, and brings the package into the tiny, disorganized office I have grown to love. Erin Fristad is sitting at her desk, munching on hummus and tabouli salad.
“Erin,” says Joyce, “it’s Julie Greene’s thesis.”
“Well, how about that,” says Erin.