Monday, December 10, 2007

We Are Pomegranates

This... is a pomegranate. When I was a kid living in Hawaii -- my dad was an Air Force pilot stationed at Pearl Harbor -- a pomegranate tree grew in the yard next door to our house in Foster Village. Its fruit draped on leafy branches across the fence into our yard, and I longed for those pomegranates. My mother said they didn't belong to us. I asked her if I could have the ones that fell on the ground on our side of the fence, and she gave me permission to take those, as long as I didn't pick any from the tree. I didn't know then that the ones that fell were the sweetest, the most ripe.

I languished in the yard some days, with a book (is that possible?), sitting on the moss that grew under the banana tree, waiting for those pomegranates to fall. They were exotic, and full of mystery. We had moved from Mobile, Alabama (where I was born) to Hawaii when I was five -- now I was eight -- and I had never seen fruit like this in Alabama. I remember my surprise the first time my mother broke one open for me -- all those soft seeds, like round red pearls! All that sweet goodness that dribbled down my chin, my neck, and under my shirt as I took a bite. I loved the texture of a pomegranate, its shape, its flavor, its smell. It was full of possibilities, like we are, like our stories are, falling ripe from a tree after much hard work... our day-to-day lives that we chronicle for ourselves and one another.

I've been thinking about possibilities lately. I've been thinking about those pomegranates. I've been thinking about what I've learned as I've blogged this book tour and my travel to schools and conferences in 2007, as we've launched THE AURORA COUNTY ALL-STARS into the world. And I've made some decisions.

We're coming to the end of the year and certainly we're at the end of the ALL-STARS book tour; it's time to change things up a bit. I want to wrap up the year's traveling stories for you, particularly I want to show you the good work we did at the writing residency at Canterbury Woods Elementary School in Fairfax, Virginia in November. Soon, I promise.

I want to look back at the year. I hope to write about traveling, writing, making a living in the arts as a self-employed person, and I'll write about cooking, eating, gardening, family, and friends. The usual.

And I'm going to bring this blog to an end as I do that, probably at the New Year in January. I invited you on a journey -- the book tour -- and that journey is over. But I'm not leaving you, oh no. You can't get rid of me that easily.

This blog will stay live, right here online, although I have no plans to post to it after January. I'm creating a new blog which you will be able to link to easily right here on this page -- I'll let you know when it's time. It's called One Pomegranate. Yep. One Pomegranate. "So many stories inside each fruit," that's my description. Each fruit being each one of us.

And I am the Pomegranate Queen. Hey -- it's my blog! I get to be Queen. I am "One Pomegranate." And so are you. You'll see.

One Pomegranate won't be that much different from this blog, but then, it will be. I'll travel next year, but not nearly the way I did this year. I'll be home more in 2008 than I've been home in the past seven years. I've planned it that way. Finally! And I have plans.

In One Pomegranate, I'm going to chronicle writing the next book. Books. You're going to hear a lot about the Sixties, among other things, since I'm going to be researching and writing about the Sixties, and I'm going to ask you what you think. I'm going to ask you about... well, lots of things. I'm going to find my voice, my way, on a blog I create myself with the intention of making connections. With you, with the world, with myself, with story.

In 2008, I'm going to hang with family. Garden. Cook. Be a friend. Climb Stone Mountain. Eat well. Sleep well. Get healthy. Write well... I hope. Research. Teach. Write. Write. And write some more. I'm a writer who misses writing. And I've learned, as I've blogged this year, that we can use blogs as a way to get to know one another and ourselves. I want to experiment. Be juicy. Tell stories. Online and on paper.

I hope you'll stick around and be juicy with me. So many stories in every fruit. What are yours? Do they resonate with mine? In all the travel I've done since 2001, I can tell you that I resonate to your stories -- we are much more alike than we are different.

Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Rhodes has said, "Story is the primary vehicle human beings use to structure knowledge and experience." Story. Not only the stories we read in books or hear in songs or watch in movies. Story -- guess-what-happened-to-me-today story. It's what we blog about every day, we human beings. What thrills us, delights us, angers us, saddens us, scares us, informs us, changes us... story. It's the air we breathe.

I love what soldier/author/teacher/minister Frederick Buechner has said about story -- and I believe he was talking about the very thing we do with blogs and journals and phone calls and visits and "guess what happened to me today!" Here's a bit of what he says:

"My story is important not because it is mine. . . but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track . . . of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity . . . that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally . . . to lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but spiritually. I not only have my secrets, I am my secrets. And you are yours. Our secrets are human secrets, and our trusting each other enough to share them with each other has much to do with the secret of what it means to be human."

I hope you'll hang out with me here through December, and migrate with me for a new adventure at One Pomegranate. It will be the next leg of our journey -- Our Story -- together.