Taking a seat. My own seat, not one in an office chair or shortcut via staccato social media life- feelings dispatch. Staring at the cursor. Staring at the cursor. Doubting. Doubting. Jumping off a comfy lifeboat. Swimming out of the social rip current until I can hear and feel my heart beat on its own. Pulling myself up, my whole body and heart, on a faraway rock. An away-game that I require now.
Since I was a young girl, my writing style was one of the few things I was always praised for and wanted to do. Instead of Barbies, I preferred looking at atlases and running my fingers across serpentine, black ink coastlines, writing short stories and poems about the places I would visit when I got far, far away from that mess. I still have some of them. Occasionally I’ll find one tucked into an embarrassing teen diary, scribbled with blue ink and handwriting that looks like that of a cartoon. Not the beautiful penmanship that I practiced and perfected; that which received attention because of its detail and steady hand. Not the loops and filigree of wanting to fit in as an adolescent. Heavy, incisive little verse-bombs cutting a deep, acute ravine through late 80s daydreams and crushes.
I continued to write academically, and transferred it into my career as an analyst and copy writer. I could write beautifully about anything other than what I was really experiencing and feeling. There were scholarships, awards, and job offers that came from the writing. For a good 15 years I didn’t read a book, and my private words were an indulgence, tucked into a cigar box of secret letters to myself. Everything I wrote was edited 6-8 times, then became someone else’s. Book forwards, op-eds, political speeches, ghost-written yet lauded blogs. I grew to resent the talent. The only good thing I could do was convert it into quotas and monetize it. And because I live as we all do; I needed the money.
I want my words back. I have to find them or I will never know. But I had to be ready. Months ago, I was visiting a tiny, remote island where I return again and again for respite, and while walking alone on a hill full of elephant ears and resting lizards, I saw my words again in the leaves, on my wet skin, in the sky. I had so very much to process and put to paper, but I felt like I needed to explain myself first. Because I’ve spent my young life explaining the things I kept inside, and numerous failures. I don’t want to sit down and explain myself again or I will never create what I want to.
In very recent years, I lost many of my lifelong anchors, and it catalyzed me enter the next era as a sensitive and intelligent person. Despite the beauty, fellowship, and joy I’ve chosen or been given, there is a lot of overwhelming pain and my status quo must be redrawn. I lost the person who was my north star, I lost the security and nostalgia of my nuclear family, I lost health that I took for granted, and I lost what I honored and idealized as an American citizen and advocate. These losses and their grief reflect the strength of my love, so investing in my gifts and well-being are the best and hardest job I could ever take on. I’m giving myself permission for fear and bliss. It’ll be OK, but I have to step aside from it to create. What my experiences inside of me and abroad will look like, and if they will ever see the light of day, is not relevant right now. That I do it— is the objective.
In the coming months I will be making all kinds of things, just not pronouncements or judgments. I’m tapped out of those. I’m peeling back and opting for a simpler spot of earth and inspiring interactions with new faces. There will be words about it, some shared and some tucked far away in a safe place. There will be new friends. There will be growing. There will be selfish love and discernment. In this place, my hands will be used to put words to paper, grow things, touch others, and build a new foundation. Perhaps less touching of phones, steering wheels, buttons, packages, and news apps.
Come along for the ride. Muses, dear ones, lurkers, those in un-uncaptioned photos with me, school mates, bar mates, neighbors. I’m thankful for your friendship.