I wrote it all down.
Not in a literal, this is what has happened today sense, because considering my art of choice has been poetry much of my musings have been in that form. Beginning with simple rhyming about my horses or the frogs I caught in the pond below our house, which were quite awful actually, and moving into words I was able to put to music once I began learning to play guitar.
I go through these books periodically. I am urged to open them when I am at a crossroads, or lonely, or feeling a bit dramatic or angry or overwhelmed. Because we all get caught up in that. So caught up in the ladder climbing and paycheck earning and dinner making and lawn mowing that we sometimes forget who we really are, and consequently, who we wanted to be in the first place. I’ve done it. I’ve lost it before. And only we can save ourselves.
So lately, as I am running my eyes across the words on worn out pages that I scrawled on ten years ago…five years ago…yesterday…I realize that I have given myself a gift. Because these pages have taken me through my life, my completely raw and unedited, for my eyes only, emotional life. And as a woman, or if you are a man who knows a woman, you can appreciate what a nice little jaunt this can be.
Reaching into my vault, I get a glimpse of who I was as far back as elementary school, where (drawing conclusions from my writing that my memory won’t fill in) I was an energetic, optimistic, animal fanatic who was terrified, absolutely terrified, of growing up (and wished a little bit that she was born a boy). And I take myself through junior high, where that fear of losing my innocent outlook and wholesome relationships was very evident. I learn, each time I page through, what it was like to be 16, in love for the first time, and surrounded by all of this space, waiting for him to knock on my door and take me out. I learn again, about my fragile confidence, my torn heart, my full heart, my fear of leaving and losing and hurting–all of the dark places I went, all of the bright spots, all of the anguish and indecision and certainty. I am reminded.
I am reminded what it was like to be on the cusp of marriage and visualizing my life moving in two different directions. I see my pen marks run down the lines of the pages, working it out, writing it out, asking myself questions with indecisive replies. I hear the adventure in my voice as I packed my bags and headed down the road, alone, with so much work and music and heartbreak and let downs and thrilling moments ahead of me. With a boyfriend, then a husband, then a vision of family weighing on my mind.
I see the blank pages I left as my time was swallowed up with miles and moves and a wedding and a house and a dog and another dog and a job to pay the bills and feed a new ambition.
I hear my meek voice in between those blank pages, something I wrote down after thumbing through and searching my soul one late night, trying again to speak out so confidently into the still air of my room as my husband slept beside me.
I hear her. I feel her. I try to know her again.
So I appreciate that I have been blessed here with a moment. A moment created by a decision to make my home where it has always been, a place where my soul has been fed, a place I come back to time and time again. A moment that allows me to take a deep breath while my husband rises at 5 am to head to work with a sandwich I made for him and kisses me goodbye and tells me to do something I love today.
I realize that this particular gift I was given isn’t possible for everyone. That not everyone can up and leave a job with security and insurance and settle into a beautiful landscape that brings you back to earth. That others have babies and husbands and wives who count on them to bring home the money to fill the fridge and pay off the home and SUV. That others aren’t ready yet. That others didn’t save all the pages. I understand this. This could have been me. This has been me. This may be me again.
And I know this moment won’t last forever. It can’t. I know my life carries on its back responsibilities and longings and lifetime goals that I wish to achieve–I need to achieve. But I’m working hard to not take this for granted. To take my moment and run as fast as I can with it, to search, to ask, to really find out.
So I write. I write it all down. Because I was told to. I write into existence the person I want to be, the way my hair might look, the clothes I could wear, the things I would say, the people I love, those who don’t understand. I put it all down. Write it out into the universe. To help the woman tomorrow understand who this woman is today.
Because there are things we cannot change. There is time we won’t get back, people we will never see again and those we can never heal, who will never love us, who we may never love. There are houses we will never live in, cars we will never drive, ocean shores we may never feel beneath our feet, children who will never be born.
All we have is who we are and we owe it to ourselves and those we love to take a moment. Take a breath and take off our working shoes, wipe our hands clean and find out who that really is.
I found this in one of those in-between pages.
somebody told me
somebody warned me
that little piece left can’t be filled
that you’ll always look in the quiet spaces
or moments without the songs you should have made
and you’ll stop for one breath
and hold it
and your hand may still be working
dusting off the highest shelf
you forgot about during the weeks filled with coffee
and neatly pressed shirts
and you’ll think
allowing it to only take you for a moment
before it stings too much
that you may have missed something in that conversation that led you to this place
you may have forgotten to say
“I have one more thing left”
“I have something up my sleeve”
“It may work this time”
something that could save you from needing those mornings
and checks with the insurance withdrawn
this may not be what I want
but when your eye catches the crumbs that you left
after a late night dinner of cornflakes
you let yourself move your hand from the shelf to the table with ease
and the brave woman you used to be
moves on to the laundry from there