Wednesday, December 27, 2006

ashes to ashes

"You need to bury that." Oren says declaratively. "It was like, ten years ago."

My older brother is talking to me on the phone. He's out on his patio in the sweet Arizona air. I am in the back room of the lodge chain smoking and trying to ignore my drunk friends who come waggling in screaming, "WHO ARE YOU ON THE PHONE WITH!?!?"

He's talking about my stint in Pittsburgh ten years ago. When I wanted to toss a hanky to my small town and hit the big time, big city. A few days before graduating high school, when my honors English teacher asked who was leaving the state, I shot my hand up into the air with pride. I'd blown off ACT's and SAT's with no plans to attend any college - but was accepted to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for what was supposed to be an "awesome" film program. Four months, a deep depression and a Video Production teacher who everyone mistook for the janitor, later and I was home.

Oren tells me to bury it. It was a bad experience and I've grown so much since then, venturing out to a different city at a different time would not be the same.

I know he's right. In a way. The bad parts should be buried. Walking a mile and a half to and from class on my own, in the dark hours of morning and the late hours of night. Being warned after a stabbing took place in the building across from ours. The depression that reared its ugly head, kept me in my room and out of class. The falling out with my father. It should be more than buried. It should be tossed into a fire and turned to ash.

But there's another aspect to the 'Burgh era that I don't want to bury. States away from home, family and friends, in the middle of bad state of crap - I began to write. Really write. I started a novel, that I've still never finished - but it didn't matter. Writing was enough. I guess that's how it is with anything you're meant to do.

I'm thinking about all that tonight, as I read an interview with my favorite author, Alice Hoffman. When I started, I didn't worry about what people really thought of anything I wrote. I never showed anything to anyone. Never spoke about it. If anyone asked me what I was working on my answer was simply, "I can't talk about it before it's done."

Eventually none of it ever got done. Wondering what people might say got the best of me.

I'm at Rachel's house today and I'm crying. It's been a long week and I'm tired and worn out. I ask her why I'm still here and not moving anywhere and she tells me I have an attachment. She's right. She tells me things will happen when they're supposed to. And she's right. I'm not quite as depressed as it may sound - just more in a lot of thought.

Reading the interview, I start thinking about writing again. Furiously, like I used to. Pushing out the "what ifs" and the "what abouts". Hoffman says it took her a long time to tell people she was a writer and the feeling feels familiar. Writing is to "be alone in a room". And I miss that comfort. When the writing came first. The time alone in a room. At a big dark wood table at Barnes & Noble. Getting there in the early afternoon and scribbling away until I'd look up and see that night had fallen.

To my list of resolutions this year, giving up lazy and getting back to my work out, giving up junk and getting back to my nutritional habits...getting back to myself - I long to get back to writing.

But I'll probably keep smoking... Mustn't bury all my sweet vices - all at once.

1 comment:

Erica said...

So first of all I just want to tell you that you are awesome. You don't let people in, you've always been reserved and you haven't been that particularily close to me. But I can tell you, that I know so much about how you feel and how you think because you and I are so very alike. The first thing you need to do is let go of being afraid of failure. No matter how many times you fail at something you will never be a loser if you are at least attempting.
When you came back from PA you were a changed person. You never did elaborate as to what happened, but I don't think you should ever give up on your dream of leaving there and becoming great. I can tell you, if you do stay you are limiting your opprotunities. But I don't really need to tell you that, do I?! I know what it is like to leave the ones I am comfortable with and the ones I love, I know what It's like to take the risk and I have never been happier. I wanted the kick ass big city apartment and the night life. Sex and the City style. I wanted a corporate big wig job title. I don't have any of that, but.... I have something else I could have never imagined in a million years. I wouldn't have my wonderful kids if I stayed. Yes, I failed. I will never be the person I set out to be, but I am now a person I never thought I could be.