A short and sweet story I’ve long told myself goes something like this: you’re not a writer. There is a long list of reasons for this assertion. People are born writers. I’m not that clever. I already have a so-called profession. Also, writing is really hard for me. It’s a slog. Agonizingly so.
That keeps me from this page, from my field notes and the pleasure of backyard wayfinding. It has also kept me from a project I desperately want to launch, bringing the City of Women map to life. That effort will take a whole bunch of writing, consistently and publicly. I’d best get my act together! Enter Patti Digh’s VerbTribe writing class. I’ve written every day since January 23rd, more than 5,000 words. They have been shared with three others and only on a private platform.
Today that changes. I have been challenged to stretch and share a piece of my VerbTribe writing with the world.
This isn’t the content I envisioned for Travel Deeper. Fictionalized, third person storytelling. A stretch, and there’s fear in being seen.
Patti asserts: Your work won’t be fully realized until it’s shared.
Yes, indeed. Here we go. Enjoy.
They fill the third shelf of the ordinary IKEA piece. Billy, they call the bookshelf, as if he were a comfortable old friend. Billy, not William. She sits at the knockoff mid-century modern table in an authentic Saarinen chair. One of the few things she’s kept from The Great Leaving, the chair was a lucky find from an upstate New York auction house. It’s been meticulously restored in a bright orange fabric that’s rather scratchy. That was another lifetime ago, their auctioning days. It’s just a hobby and we need one living in this place, he says with a shrug and a sweep of the arm.
This place was the banality of suburbia.
She went along, as she was prone to do when it came to him, but knew better. This was just one addiction bleeding into another. In time, a storage unit had to be rented to house all the furniture and art bought in jumbled up lots. Amid captain’s desk and oriental rugs, the nameless landscapes and pedestrian pencil drawings, he did find one painting worth thousands. Everything else he eventually resold. All but her orange chairs.
Her back is turned away from Billy and his contents, shoulders slouched, legs crossed at the ankles. The falling snow goes unnoticed. She tries to dislodge this needless reminiscing with the shake of her head. Beneath the framed photos, the bowl of smooth beach stones, the wooden Frida and Go Fund Me RGB action figure lies the source of her discontent. My own paradise lost, she mumbles bitterly. This momentary anger replaced with regret as she stands abruptly and slides a hand down the row of pristine blank journals. The utilitarian Muji notebooks bright with yellows, reds and blues, their slim spines taut; the supple black of the Moleskine calendars; a pair of whimsical recycled leather planners that implore: “do something good today” and “do more of what makes you happy.” This is the story of my life, she laments, the empty page as unfulfilled promise. The familiar drum of should haves and recrimination now beats in her chest.
Begin again, the blue Buddha urges from the top shelf. But she can’t meet his eye any more than she can face herself on the page.