Tuesday, June 17, 2008


In Shaw's The Importance of Being Earnest, the irresponsible main character, Algernon, creates a fictional friend named Bunbury who is always "getting sick" and calling him to the country, thus freeing Algernon to explore. Algernon tells his friend who has a secret life in the city, "What you really are is a Bunburyist. I was quite right in saying you were a Bunburyist. You are one of the most advanced Bunburyists I know." I am an unabashed bunburyist. I realized this today as I was tooling around the streets of downtown Portland while my daughter was in theater camp. I'm happiest when I'm clicking down unknown paths, watching, searching, bunburying. Today I walked all over the Pearl district, poked my head into stores, listened to conversation, tromped down busy streets, residential areas, and construction sites. When I lived overseas that's what I did most weekends, I wore through the soles of most of my shoes. Now that I have a child, I don't wander as much as I used to, particularly because Coranna hates to go on walks. But when I do, I feel whole, right, in my own skin. I can't put it on my resume, but I'm really good at bunburying.

I suppose it is no accident that my first novel would be a journey. I don't travel much any longer except in my writing and in reading. That's fine because I know I'm tilling the soil for my daughter, but it is strange for a milkweed to land and take root. I guess how else could you grow other milkweeds.

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