Last week, one misty morning in Maine, my husband, the dogs and I hopped into our car and drove up the coast, all the way to Brooklin, in search of the saltwater farm and former home of the great American writer, E.B. White. It was quite an adventure, and it wasn easy. The White house is unmarked, had not been turned into a museum, and is now occupied by new, unrelated owners. White had always been a private and aloof man. For instance, in the New Yorker, he published a series of essays under the dateline “Allen Cove,” a designation that appears only on nautical maps. That way, said White, no one will be able to find [me] except by sailboat and using a chart.
But still, we found it. Here a tiny taste of our incredible trip:
“It’s late September and my husband and I are walking down a plain gravel path towards the cedar shake writing shed of someone who hasn’t invited us: Elwyn Brooks White, better known to some as the late, great essayist E.B. White, and to those who still don’t know, the man who wrote the classic children’s books ‘Charlotte’s Web’ and ‘Stuart Little.’ With each step away from the old brown barn and closer to the shed, we see living relics from White’s world: a lush emerald garden. An old chicken chopping block. A tall apple tree doubling as a raccoon lookout tower. The sterling pond, large brown geese skirting its brim. And then, as if the shed was just a shed, the writer’s studio appears.”
Ten years ago, I stepped foot into a place that would change me forever.
It was a legitimate school, even though it felt like it was too good to be true. The mission of the place: nurture and challenge students to become powerful and responsible storytellers. Find the extraordinary in the ordinary is what they told us.
The name of the school: The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. It was the place that told me, “Yes, Mira. That fire burning inside of you? Sure, it idealistic. But it is important. What you want to dostorytelling/journalism/anthropology/creative writing/whatever you want to call it a passion we want you to nurture. We will help you nurture it, and if you try hard and care enough, it something that you can actually do for a living.
Ten years later, I still doing it.
Also, ten years later, on the eve of Salt 40th anniversary, I have been asked to return to Salt. This time, to teach what I know. That right ! It a dream come true to announce that the new writing instructor at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. An honor, really.
Want to know more about Salt? Please do browse their website, check out what alums are up to, see what happening this semester, or read a bit about Salt mission. And of course, if you ever find yourself in Portland, Maine, do drop by! You know both my door and heart are always open.
Since this is summer vacation, I going to slack off and make this post brief and to the point. Then, I m going swimming in the ocean because WE HAVE MADE LIKE E.B. WHITE AND LIVE IN MAINE NOW.
OK. Here we go. The latest:
1. Like I said, we have moved to Maine and come September 1 we will be living on an island. This island: PEAKS. They have an umbrella museum.
2. NEW PUBLICATION ALERT. I recently had the pleasure of working with the prodigious and razor sharp editor Roxane Gay over at The Rumpus. The final result is a personal essay about reproductive health, decisions, and how different we all are. I call it “HERE WE GO ON”.
3. In Maine, when cashiers ask if you want a receipt, they follow it with “do you need any dog treats?”. WE HAVE FOUND OUR HOME.