Sticking it Out

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Several weeks ago I went to Iowa City to hear Margaret Atwood give a lecture. I got there well before the starting time, but I was too late to get a seat in the auditorium. I've never read any of Atwood's books. I barely know who she is or what she writes, but I needed to get out of the house, into the cold winter air. I crossed my fingers that I'd be inspired somehow, lifted out of a fog of isolation.

A crowd of us stood in the foyer, looking at each other, until it was absolutely clear that no one else would be admitted. Then people started drifting away. I stood there in my ill-thought shoes, warming up, trying to think of where to go other than home. When I was warm enough to think of going out again, I decided to just stay. Wait there in the foyer. It was warm. I had nowhere else to be. So I waited. A handful of other people waited too, some soon giving up, some sticking it out. I think we were five at the end of it, five when a woman walked out, five when two others left. We waited, avoiding eye contact for some reason, until finally the house manager came through, noted the people leaving, unlocked the doors and shooed us in.

I stood along the wall in the very back and listened, maybe a little more closely than I would have otherwise. Her ease and familiarity with the audience was disarming, and even when she talked about zombies, a subject I never care to talk about, I felt it was worth something to listen. I left feeling settled, gratified, and connected to the larger world I'd been neglecting.

I'm sure I would have been similarly inspired had I been one of the first in the door, but there's something about waiting around, holding out for the possibility, the chance that a door will open. I'm so quick to give up sometimes. So eager to move on, so ill at ease with feeling out of place. Every so often it's good to be reminded that holding out for something is good, worth it.

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© The Attic at Anderwood Maira Gall.