Matthew A. Merendo
December 9, 2018
9:16 pm

not with a bang but a whimper

(Entry #8)

I feel a bit as if I’m starring in a new movie called Park, Interrupted. Last week, as I left the Walled Garden slightly angry at the crowds, I consoled myself that I’d be able to come again next week, one last time, for one last entry in this university-assigned nature blog. Imagine my shock and disappointment when I realized that the final blog — the one you’re reading right now! — is just a reflection, not a proper post. No chance for a goodbye, no opportunity for a last stroll by my weeping pine, no valediction to my sad squirrel, nothing. This feels so terminal, so permanent, so unalterable.

And it’s not, of course. I’m not moving. The park isn’t going anywhere. I can walk the few blocks any day of the week — every day of the week, if I wanted — but I know I won’t, because I’m lazy and not a nature person and awkward when I’m alone and afraid of everything. A bunch of dumb excuses, I know, but I also know myself and I know how I am, so even if I wanted to return to the park — and I do! — I know I won’t. I never would before, and I won’t know — my park hasn’t changed that much over the past few months.

But it has changed me a little — I am calling it my park, my weeping pine, my sad squirrel. I know ownership of nature is perhaps a faux pas, but I am a materialist. Further, I don’t necessarily think a claim of ownership demands exclusivity or possession. (I am also not too keen on monogamy — go figure.) For me, the very fact that I lay claim to a park, to a tree, to a squirrel is a huge deal, because nature has never been something I’ve sought to own. Nature has never been something that I’ve so identified with that I’ve wanted to declare my allegiance. So… yeah, it’s a big deal!

I have always considered myself a writer — specifically a fiction writer. I’ve blogged in the past, pretty regularly since circa 2003, but mostly for personal reasons. I can’t imagine anyone outside of my inner circle wanting to read any of my old blog posts, and yet now, after writing these eight entries for my nature blog, I do feel as if I have something that may appeal to a larger audience. I can even imagine myself taking some of these posts, fluffing them a bit, and submitting them for publication in the official sense of the word. In this sense, I have changed, too. I can write creative nonfiction. Even more importantly, someone who isn’t my future self may want to read some of that creative nonfiction. I didn’t believe that before, and now I do.

If I’m being completely honest, I do think I’ll go back to the Walled Garden. Probably in the spring, when the winter first breaks into those gorgeous days full of possibility, when the air is still brisk and the trees are still bare but you know life is on its way. I’d like to go with my laptop, which I never took with me before, and write. Probably not creative nonfiction — I’m still a fiction writer through and through — but, if I’ve learned anything this semester, you never know. You never know.

Matthew A. Merendo