Monday, October 26, 2015

even after all the evidence is gone

Some days, I think about giving up on writing. It wouldn't be that hard to do, I think. Instead of my writing group every other Monday, I will clean my apartment or start watching a tv show on Netflix. Or I will spend the time going through that top shelf on my bookcase where I keep all my writing books. Bird by Bird and The Writing Life and On Writing. And the poetry books that inspired me, the Jane Kenyon and Mary Oliver. I will box them up and take them to Goodwill and display framed photos of my family in their place. Or I will go through the stacks of magazines on my coffee table. The Poets and Writers and the Creative Nonfictions and the tablets of handwritten practice, they will go into recycling. I will rip pages from my journal where I took notes on writing or scribbled ideas for essays. I will take the nametags from conferences hanging on the mirror in my bedroom and put them in the trash. I will go through the word documents on my computer and drag all those essays I've written into the recycle bin, along with pdfs of essays I've loved and saved in case I ever teach a course. I will go through my blog reader and take off all those writing blogs. I will unsubscribe from emails that encourage writing or invite me to writing conferences. I will unfriend all my writing friends on Facebook. I will learn to look disinterested when my coworkers and creative friends begin to talk to me about writing, and I will delete their emails that recommend links to essays and articles before even opening them. I will untrain my mind to wonder about word choice and sentence structure and idea development when I read books.

But then that one tiny thing will remain, the thing I don't know how to rid my life of, and I will wonder how a husband leaves the wife of his youth or how a mother releases her baby into the hands of another because isn't there still that softly beating rhythm in her heart that marks time, that pumps blood, that sustains life only because that other being is now a part of it? How do you forget that internal pressure that made you desire and hope and live for the other? Even after all the evidence is gone, something inside still remembers.

Monday, October 5, 2015

when time is full

Jumping in and out of a person's life - as in, living a country away and seeing them face to face, skin to skin every six or nine or twelve months - has a way of creating snapshots without showing much of what happens in between. My niece and nephew grow up in a fragmented way before me, then they were toddlers and now all of a sudden (or so it seems) they are bigger little people - or is it little bigger people?  They are saying interesting things and cultivating interests I could not have guessed. How did they learn that, I wonder. Where did that idea come from? It's like planting a seed and coming back to found that it has sprouted when you still expected it to be hibernating in the ground.

My nephew Tayte is nearly seven and all boy. On this visit, he has punched, hi-fived, kicked, head-butted and farted on me. Wrapped in a blanket before school this morning (ie being a green lobster of course), he was unaware as I scooped him up into my lap and declared him my baby (not a lobster!) and rocked him in my lap. But the lobster spread his claws and tried to pinch me and found his way to the floor. Tayte expresses himself bodily, dropping to the ground when he is frustrated or hungry or tired. Although he uses words, too, which he forms into expressions that make me stop and wonder how he ever thought of that. For example, yesterday, in response to something unexpected and funny he did, I said to him, "you're so random!" He replied, with a taunting tone, "You're so random. You came out of nowhere." How he became so existential and whip smart, I have no idea. Maybe it's all the Star Wars he's watching.

Amelia is my niece. She just turned nine. We have talked about dying our hair funky colors, the art of wearing skirts over leggings (always with shorts, too, she explained, in case you want to do cartwheels), and she's impressed by my shoe collection. When she told me about some of her life goals, she explained it's between being an Olympic gymnast or America Ninja Warrior. Then, after thinking a minute, she realized she could do both, and I agreed. I tried to get information about her love life as she pointed to her friends in her school yearbook, but she just blushed and turned the page. (I was satisfied.) On my second night here, we moved my blow-up mattress from the play room to her room. She dragged her pillow and propped it against the wall next to mine, and together we read until we were sleepy. The next night, she told me it was time to read together again. Now I am wondering, can I be best friends with my niece?

These glimpses of who they are and are becoming always makes me a little sad about missing all the in between. I want to see how those ideas formed, how those desires got planted. Yet, there's something important about the distance and moving time that helps me to see the changes more distinctly. Time can feel like a thief that steals moments when we aren't looking, but maybe all those moments weren't mine to have in the first place. It was in those moments we had apart - when time was full and ours for the taking - that we got these crazy ideas that we can share when we're together. Farting and reading before bedtime and all.