today I was looking for something (what, I can't even remember because THAT'S how easily sidetracked I am. For example right now I'm supposed to be cleaning the rest of the house, but I'm NOT.) in a drawer of paper and notebooks and I happened upon my old notebook that I used for the DC Writer's Group. Because I am so easily distracted, I picked it up and a pang of nostalgia plucked at my heart. I remembered putting on my red coat with the fur collar, my black leather opera gloves from the thrift store, grabbing my metro card and walking the three blocks to the Metro from our apartment. I remembered getting off at Dupont Circle amidst the crowds of people, people I could just look at forever with their glasses and their funny shoes and their pretty faces.
In my mind I walked the eight blocks to the little coffee shop above the used furniture store, soaking up the sounds and smells of the city. I walked up the creaking wooden stairs, next to the wall heavy laden with flyer's proudly announcing the latest artistic ventures of all the local creative minds. How I miss those people, how I miss that place in time. And then I opened up the faded black cover of the big Moleskine notebook and began to read my own words in my own scribbled hand from years ago.
I cried, and then I laughed, and then I cried again. It was like reading someone else's book, someone else's thoughts. I felt so distant from the person who wrote all those stories and words, like a best friend who has suddenly stopped being your friend without saying why. And then I realized why. Because I kept pushing her away. I'm busy. I have too much to do. I'm sorry, not today, maybe tomorrow. We'll write tomorrow. Eventually, she just stopped coming around. Where nostalgia had been, I now felt a pang of guilt. I have been so busy taking care of everyone, everyTHING else, I have failed my creative self. So, I put the bucket of cleaning supplies down, right in the middle of the floor. My very own show of rebellion against, THE MAN. Whatever that means. But whatever that meant, I was going to write, dammit! I was going to get my friend back! The friend that IS me. I haven't been a good friend to myself and I vowed to change that.
So, I made myself a cup of coffee, plugged into iTunes, and tried to reconnect with that side of me that I appreciate so much, but is sometimes so hard to find. Nell Harper Lee wrote only one book, but that book was To Kill a Mockingbird. If I only ever do one beautiful thing with my gift, my only hope is that it touches people in the heart, and that it takes hold of them and puts down roots and grows until the beauty spills out and that person shares it with someone else. We've all read books like that, books that we can't forget, that change the way we think, the very essence of what we believe. There is so much ugliness in the world, so much hate; we are bombarded with it every day. My only hope is that I will find a way to use what I have to be a light in the darkness. And that begins with this: me and blank screen.
I vow here and now, publicly, before the faceless masses, to finish what I started and create the work I began before we moved. I vow to take more time for myself to write even if that means that the laundry doesn't get put away for another day or the shoes aren't all lined up (GASP!), or the kids go unbathed (juuuuuuuuust kidding). I guess that means I have to get to it then!
In the meantime, I'd like to share with you over the next week a couple of the writing exercises we worked on that I didn't share previously. The rules for the exercise were to write a story about the props brought in (I brought them this time) and you had fifteen minutes in which to write.
Here are the props:
This one is called: A Tale of Two Toys
A bare leg slid from the edge of the table and hung down, revealing foot with no toes and joints held together with tiny screws. It was followed by another leg, just as plastic as its predecessor.
"Help!" A tiny voice called out. "It's too far of a drop, I'll break if I do it!"
"Honestly," another voice replied, "what do you want me to do? I have no legs, how am I supposed to help you?"
"Well," the little doll said, " you have wings, can't you fly over here or something? I mean, aren't you supposed to have magic powers? You are a mythical beast, albeit a tiny, finger puppet sized one."
"Well, I just left the toy store yesterday and I've never tried," said the Pegasus. "But, OK, let me give it a try." And with that he began to furiously beat his tiny golden wings. He hovered above the table for a second and then he shot straight up and began to spin in circles like a whirly-gig. "Help! I can't control myself, I'm too top heavy!"
"That's what she said!" laughed the doll, for in truth, she was a tartish little thing , her mother having been one of those Barbies with the really short skirts that only cost five dollars and anyone can have.
She reached up from the table and grabbed both sides of the little flying horse. "I have a plan," she said. I'm going to stick my head inside of you (for he was quite a hollow thing, save the mound of cotton fluff packing his muzzle) and hold on to your arms, then you can fly us both down off of the table Just remember, as soon as we hit the ground, we have to run, er, fly as fast as we can back to the playroom. The baby's loose and I don't want her gumming me again. She swallowed my pants and shoes the last time she got a hold of me." And with that the doll plunged her head up the empty space of the Pegasus.
"Ouch! Don't wiggle so much!" he cried as the doll tried to get comfortable without the use of her eyes. Then he flapped his wings and they were airborne. He maneuvered them across the table top and slowly lowered the doll to the ground. She quickly pulled her head out and yelled, "Now...RUN!"
Side note: I could really have kept going with this one, but I ran out of time. It's something I may revisit later. After all, those little dolls belong to my children. And do you want to know something? To this very day, that little doll still has not put any pants or shoes on. Apples don't fall far from their trees, do they?