Us in front of the Homestead (Emily Dickinson’s house) - the photo was taken by the PR guy, who also “calls her ‘Emily,’” as Aaron pointed out.
I got there on Friday for five hours of Marathon reading before Aaron came into town, and when I saw the house from the Greyhound station down the street (it’s on Main Street), I knew that that was it and began RUNNING, rattling my suitcase on the street behind me and probably looking like an idiot. I felt like I was about to see a really great friend. The house is tall with pillars in front (not gaudy, though) and painted an ochre color with green shutters. The Evergreens (home of Emily’s brother/sister-in-law, across the way) has more furniture, because it had fewer inhabitants than Emily’s did after her death. I felt unsettled by the tricycle that belonged to her nephew who died young.
On Friday I frequently got tired at the five-hour reading and walked outside to make a call to Joanna. I sat in Emily’s gardens, and sunlight was riding over the house and making certain patches warm. While I was on the phone a cat sprinted past me, and I called him back and petted him. It was the perfect moment - to be talking to one of my best friends, petting a cat, in Emily Dickinson’s gardens.
We celebrated our actual anniversary with a brunch in Northampton, where our Airbnb was, and took the train into Amherst to catch 30 minutes of the reading and to crash an Amherst College capital campaign celebration on their lawn. I’m always up for the free food.
After the actual anniversary celebration itself (theirs, not ours - the speeches were good, but Aaron and I were both unimpressed by the play), we walked to Emily’s grave. She and her family are inside a black gate, which we found after 30 minutes of searching (It was unsettling to search for thirty minutes in a dark graveyard for my favorite poet’s grave). There’s a tree growing inside the gate, and when we arrived there was also a bunny. Aaron joked that it was “Emily reincarnated,” and I did feel that it was there for a reason - just like the cat was, and bugs glittering in the grass in her gardens that, when I approached, began crawling up my ankles.