It’s interesting to me that even though as a youth I always wanted to be a journalist, I have such a difficult time writing anything down now. I wrote many stories and poems in public school and high school and even kept a journal while traveling west with my parents and siblings when I was 16. I was very busy with Naval Reserves, shooting, sailing and traveling with lots of material yet I never wrote. I have over 45 years of horseback riding stories, love stories, friendships, stories of loss and everything else that fills a lifetime yet I hesitate writing it down. What prevents me? Perhaps the feeling that it would embarrass friends and family. “Only the names are changed to protect the innocent” is a line I toyed with to get my stories out of my head and onto paper. I also believed that no-one would be interested in my scattered thoughts or random stories so I put myself down, convinced myself I have no talent and shattered my own dream frequently. I have developed many avoidance techniques honed over the years to hide and protect.
I have a lot more to say now but most of it would probably offend someone or be considered politically incorrect or give away someones secrets so I sit, mute in front of my screen, and hypothesize what I might say that falls somewhere in between all that. Nothing. Nothing at all comes to mind, but my thoughts are brimming and racing and pushing to find a way out. So I decide to write about that, the struggles of my non existent writing career.
I still have a fondness for writing, however, that doesn’t make me a writer, and I have no formal education on the written word short of a temporary general interest course I once took with Ruth Latta as my instructor back in the 80’s. I found it very mesmerizing and creative to stare at a photo and imagine it’s story.
I am full of excuses for not writing. I have no time, work, taxiing, pet care, stress, pain from arthritis and just plain old procrastination. I lie in bed at night and the stories come to me just before I fall asleep, begging to be told, of undying love and horrible horror, motherly moments and jealous husbands, and yet I remain mute on paper.There’s less and less to say that hasn’t been said already, I tell myself, so why try. I’m not sure why I still torture myself wanting to when I clearly haven’t had enough drive to just follow my dream and do it.
A Promise to Myself
I must do a story a week, (almost said daily, but caught myself) for 1 year. It may be fiction, it may be truth but I must try. Today’s story will revolve around moments of childhood. My own children’s stories not mine.
Alone in a Crowd
The tree stands in the forest alone, the squirrels climb it for protection and to use as an overhead highway, deer, bear and other large creatures use it for cover from the weather and sun, as a convenient scratching post and as a territory marker. It has many uses while living but still stands solitary, unable to hug it’s neighbor, or chat to it’s friends alone in a crowd. It screams in silent agony when we cut it down to make our chairs and tables and houses and fences or Christmas trees for a three week slow death in a bucket of water while we admire how pretty it is. Ok, I’m cynical and I digress.
The Bad Day
I am overwhelmed by the shear volume of energy it takes to go anywhere with two little kids. Bags need packing to have diapers, food and extra clothes involved in going to a couple of stores to shop with them for an afternoon, yet my energy is up to the challenge on this particular day. My first thought through all this is “Can I pull this off?” I love spontaneity, but the job calls for planning and the two don’t mix. A setup for disaster.
I put my toddler in the car with toys and put the baby in her car seat now ready to go after an hour of getting ready, I’m getting the hang of this new reality in my life of creating lists and preparing for what amounts to a journey. I have money in my pocket and a plan to get some material at the not so local fabric shop and a planned stop at the grocery store to get some much needed supplies. We’re off.
I watch people around me so easily parking their cars and walking in to browse and pick up little things that takes them only minutes to accomplish and jealousy and longing for that ease sets in. I takes another herculean effort to get everyone out of the car and into the store with my bag of kid stuff on one shoulder and the baby on the other. Once there, I walk around for about a minute trying to ignore the constant requests from the toddler to get this and get that while keeping the baby entertained. Coping.
That’s when it starts to fall apart, slowly. We walk in and during the first moment of walking through the door the baby has a very recognizable sound coming from her stomach and a face that can only be described as incredible effort then relief. Warmth on my arm tells me something has erupted and I need to quickly know what that is. We walk directly to the back of the store and into the washroom. Still coping. The ugly truth reveals itself. She has filled her diaper to overflowing, covering not only her clothes but mine as well with a diarrhea that has leaked everywhere. I need to bathe her in the washroom sink, completely remove all of her clothing and replace it with the change of clothes I had so carefully packed for just this event. I hoped no one was waiting to get in. Then she’s hungry and I’m breastfeeding so I sit on the toilet seat as there are no baby change tables or comfy chairs to sit in. Finally, she’s clean, fed and happy again and I can finish my dreamy shopping moment. Still coping.
We are out in the store for about 5 minutes when the toddler announces he has go to the bathroom, yes, after just spending 20 minutes in there we were back again. He is curious about everything and climbs everything in sight he can reach including the toilet seat. Still coping.
We are finally out of there and now are into almost an hour of just bathroom time in a store I have barely had time to see anything in. The baby starts crying because she’s tired of being carried and the toddler is hungry now too but he doesn’t want anything I’ve brought for him so, between the crying and nagging I give up. Not coping.
Near tears, leaving my embarrassing trip behind, I pack myself and my kids into the car and head home, where everyone can be themselves and I have lots of time and space to deal with problems not insurmountable just frequent and draining.
I feed the toddler and lay them down for a nap while I postulate over what went wrong and how to do it better next time.
Next week – to be determined.