One Decade In Brooklyn…

Lahiri-web1Jhumpa Lahiri in The Brooklyn Rail:

In 2005 we bought a house in Fort Greene. I let go of the studio and acquired, for the first time in my life, a room to call my own, with a door to shut, and serving no other purpose. A single window, the only window of the house that faces south, looks out at the clock tower of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank. I have to stand up to see it. But it is there, a symbol and centerpiece of the borough, marking the hours of work I will not recall.

Boston is the city where I became a writer, but in Brooklyn I took on a far more daunting challenge, and that is to be a writer and a parent at the same time. Literary biographies and memoirs tell us that until recently, people tended to be one thing, not both. That the conflicting demands of each enterprise—one a self-centered, solitary vocation, the other inherently giving, in which the priorities of the self recede—could not coexist. But here in Brooklyn the exception seems to be the rule, because I am surrounded by, inspired by writers of all stripes, men and women alike, who are equally dedicated, though the equation is never a perfect one, to both the writing of books and the raising of children. You will find them attending birthday parties more often than book parties. You will find them, after a day of writing, not mixing a martini but preparing macaroni and cheese. You will find them rushing home from teaching writing classes at Princeton or Hunter College, in time to read to their children before bed. You will find them attending a friend’s reading with a newborn in a sling, being supportive to the friend, stepping onto the sidewalk when the baby needs comforting.

Something about Brooklyn accommodates both these callings, both drives. There are days when the prospect feels impossible, days when a school holiday means no writing gets done, or days when we choose to sit at our desks instead of accompany a field trip with our child’s class. There are months, even years, when our creative work may be put on hold.

In Brooklyn, versions of these choices are always being made, because examples of such writers are everywhere.

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