I spent the next six months back in Kennebunkport. But I was not there as a slave to school: I was free. I found a bicycle and rode it. Punished myself on it. I went from corpulent to merely big. I went for long walks in the woods, along the river, up and down the beach. I acquired classic cookbooks and cooked my way through them. I got great books from the library and read them. I got a great idea for a novel and, over the course of six months, I wrote it. Then edited it and edited it, and at length queried literary agents on its behalf.
A few little nibbles. No bites. Looking back at it, I cannot blame them. Mostly I will say this: if I am of the last generation to send out paper queries, each stamped with an SASE, I shall consider it a bit of pride. Rather like a forebear who had to grind his own wheat, or pull his own tooth.
I was convinced – much by means of the dillemma of the no alternative – that it was worth my time to try college again. This time I applied to one college: Hampshire, which boasted of independent study and self-driven scholarship. Also everyone got their own rooms, which was a bit of a necessity after the frat boys.
The last go-around I’d barely squeezed in to the most expensive school in America. The second time around I got immediately accepted to the second most expensive… with nearly a full ride. Things were looking up.