Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lonely: Just Write Tuesdays

Sometimes, if I'm really lucky, if everything has aligned just so, if I'm really moved or inspired or, especially, feeling something really intensely, I write in an almost-trance. It's weird. And liberating. And miraculous. And incredibly fulfilling. I can compare it to when you're driving somewhere and you arrive at your destination and realize with jarring suddenness that you have absolutely no recollection of having gotten there. When these writing out-of-body-experiences happen, sometimes I reread my work and can barely remember writing it. It feels effortless and automatic and instinctual. At the risk of sounding super corny and all transcendental: it's like the words came out through me, and I was just the vessel. (Gag.)

So when I found out about Heather King's online course "Just Write: The Art of Free Writing,", I thought I would be okay. I had already participated a few times in her Just Write Tuesdays, and read a lot of her work. I thought this would be sorta like a stream-of-consciousness thing or a just-don't-censor-or-edit-yourself thing. It wasn't.

It was hard.

And really, really good for me.

Heather says free writing should come more from a memory or the actual description of an experience you're having right then and there. You start out with no real "point," or message. The theme, she says, will (usually and hopefully) reveal itself to you. So for today's Just Write Tuesday, I thought I'd post my homework assignment from the course. Here is my first official I-think-I-did-it-right-this-time-Just-Write. Thanks, Heather.

Join in...Just Write!

I sit in the upholstered denim blue rocking chair, my feet on the ottoman.  Back and forth. Steady. Smooth.

It’s still and quiet, like I am the only one at home in the neighborhood. The wooden blinds are open, and I look out the window periodically, the day outside sunny and bright, the trees still. I can see part of the small playground and my neighbors’ house across the street, their driveway empty.

Ben is sound asleep in my lap. His bottle, nearly empty on the changing table next to me, a few drops of the grayish-white formula left at the bottom. His lips, a perfectly pink pout, are slightly open, his breathing steady, even, effortless. His arms are flailed up and out, his ruddy pink fingers balled into loose fists, also perfectly still, except for the occasional sound-asleep twitch.

He weighs nothing on my lap. I can keep him there, safe, content, by simply crossing one leg over the other, ankle to knee, forming a pseudo-cradle.  With my left hand I steady his head, absent-mindedly caressing his black, baby-thin, nearly Elvis-like hair, shiny and messy from last night’s sleep. With my right hand I hold open “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.” I read for at least 40 minutes, uninterrupted, feeling guilty that I’m letting him nap so long in my warm, rocking lap. Aren’t babies supposed to get used to being put down in their cribs? Am I spoiling him?

I look at the clock. 11:08 a.m. I mentally check in on everyone else. My husband is probably handling some kind of situation or holding a meeting at his school. My friends would all be having lunch now—together around the big kidney-shaped tables we always clear of students’ folders and books and join together so all 8 or 9 or 12 of us can fit around them. I figure Beth is telling one of her stories or Carole is picking food out of her teeth or Joel is saying how upset he is that the girl got voted off “American Idol” last night or maybe John has just cursed and everyone else is shrieking, laughing, shocked and giddy that he let the F word slip.

It amazes me that they are all only a few miles away. The guilt comes back now: I should be blissful, home with my first baby. Finally, a baby.

Ben, 2005

I spent many, many hours rocking in this chair...

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