Monday, September 08, 2008

Moving Forward

It’s been a difficult start to the school year for me, which is like saying a root canal can be uncomfortable. September is my beginning, my time of renewal and reflection. I evaluate what I’ve done and lay down what I hope to accomplish.

The years of buying new shoes, pencils and getting all the burdock out of my hair from a summer playing in the woods made this time of year both exciting and painful. I never wanted to give up summer; I spent so much of it at my friend’s house, whose mother wore an apron, baked pies and never raised her voice. We played “Indians” and made our feet tough walking on her stony, unpaved driveway allowing us to walk barefoot anywhere without a sound. I loved the heat, the buzz of the cicadas and the freedom from the bourbon splashed on my mother’s glass filled with ice cubes.

As I grew older, I had other ways to escape- a car, a job, and team sports. School became my haven. The friend next door grew distant and summer was spent in the woods drinking beer, smoking cigarettes with friends by a campfire. School meant structure, places I had to be, and teachers who tried to cajole me into some effort, seeing something in me I did not see in myself.

Always, though, there was Labor Day, the mark of the shift. Feet were stuffed back into shoes, books carried, and work was more than getting cash for gas, beer and ‘butts. It’s ingrained in me, to this day. Once the day has passed, I search for my schedule. I look to my clock and wonder what I will have done before the kids get home.

What will it be worth, if anything.

This fall, I’ve been particularly hard on myself. I feel lost, inefficient and pointless. The kids are back in school, lessons lined up, appointments made, tutors called, laundry done. Yet I find myself looking at the clock thinking of how little it all is.

How small the circles of my world are.

I feel a familiar pang, a pull I’ve felt for the last couple years- I miss my old job. If all I did was to put stamps on an envelope and carry it to the post office, I was still judged by the world as being “employed.”

I could see myself as valuable.

I’ve been struggling with the tangible pros and cons- it was an amazing team of people and we did good work together. We took on the corporate world and it was a challenge to consider all the different angles. It was fun. Energy came from everyone and the burden to be good enough or busy enough fell on the business- not me. If I spent a day being stupid, my boss understood the balance was some days I would be extraordinary.

It was easy. Except when it wasn’t.

Over and over, my head has been full of doubt. I have no career, no focus, no point... It doesn’t matter that I have been writing since I was young. My first mystery series I finished when I was 12, fancying myself a Sam Spade clacking away at the typewriter, wishing to dangle a cigarette from my lip.

Writing is the only thing I've ever done. Writing is the only thing I've ever wanted to do.

Looking in the mirror this fall, I realize I have left the kind of writing that fills me. Writing that comes from my heart, my experience. I left it because I thought it was boring. No one cared. No one wanted to read that drivel.

I stayed focused on politics and current events. I know I can make people laugh, and even when I was miserable, I went for the quick, easy giggle.

As if I was all better. See? The amazing recovery. Nothing ever slides back, no doubt ever creeps in. I’m like the bionic woman- built better, stronger, faster than before.

I started a book this summer. I sat with a pen and paper, in Downeast. Old school. It came out faster, more clear, and deeper than anything I've ever written.

It scared the shit out of me. It made me cry, sending me back to being a little girl, trying to fight out of a corner or hide under the dining room table as my mother threw things at my silent father.

I stopped.

And then I thought my old job was a better idea that my book.

I know it’s not. I need to move forward. I need to be more than what I was. I need to grow. I need to do what is the hardest to do. My old job was not the hardest- it was the easiest.

Going backward is not moving forward.

The job was a normal thing to do. Get up, get dressed and go to work. I wanted to be normal but I'm not normal. I have not ever lived a normal life. Going behind that desk again is giving up. It’s letting my fear rule me.

I’ve done that most my life. I’ve fought hard to be where I am today. I can’t give up. There would be no point to all the places I’ve gone, all the memories, holding all the pain if I give up now.

I wanted to go home again. I wanted to put on the new shoes and walk through a path someone else pointed me down. To be six again, sitting at my mother’s feet in the kitchen, listening to her hum a song.

I was safe there.

I'm going to go to Downeast next week by myself for a few days. Kayak. Go fishing for tankers. Haul wood. Walk with my dog.

And write. If I don't write this book? I will be a failure. In my eyes. It doesn't matter if anyone even reads it.

It’s about telling my truth about scars filled with shame. Holding it as if I deserved it.

As if I asked for it.

It’s about pulling off the tar and feathers and finding something worthwhile underneath. It’s about loving myself not because someone else has beamed down a golden light of acceptance through a narrow break in the thick clouds of judgment but because I value me.

I don't want to die afraid.

And I have to move forward.


Blogger Ms. Moon said...

Oh, Sara. That tore at my heart. I am having so many of the same feelings. Just sit down and write.
That's what I'm going to do even though that simple action can be the hardest thing that can be done.
I'll be thinking of you.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Suzy said...

(((Sara))) Purpose is good I am finding that out. I love you and have always thought of you as a writer ever since you wrote that poem for me. Enjoy downeast.

8:16 AM  
Anonymous donald said...

hang in there baby and KEEP writing! you can have lots of peace and solitude downeast, but remember, you are never alone. i am only a phone call away and am all ears! and i can always cure what ails you with some nice lobsta!

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One person’s opinion – I’ve quietly followed this blog since you started. To me, there has been a noticeable change in your writing. This is not surprising given your journey over the last few years. But the truth of your craft and ultimately your purpose lies in your heart. When you force yourself to write what you think others will accept you lose yourself. When you allow it, you have a nature humor that translates well through your writing. I’ve been most touched by those pieces you’ve created with a hint of wit, even in the more somber of times. Be true to yourself, write whatever the pen and paper draw you to and let yourself enjoy the process. Good wishes to you!

5:36 PM  

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