May 14, 2020 § 21 Comments
In this strange season of face masks and fear, my living room is my sanctuary. Books, music, photographs, a wall of windows, a lumpy brown couch, flowers.
The dried hydrangeas my friend pulled from a cardboard box in her garage. We had just finished walking, before we began distancing. “These are extras,” she said. “Take them.” I had tried several times to dry my own, without success. This bunch is a perfect fit for my green and black pottery vase, thick and round, with a small neck. They last and last. I think of giving my friend a hug the next time I see her, but that will have to wait.
The orchid plant my husband and I bought January 27th, the last time we went to Trader Joe’s, not long before the last time I wrote any words I thought were worth revising. At its peak, twenty-three white flowers with pale yellow centers. Usually, they pucker up one at a time, day after day, until the plant is bare. This time, a few have fallen, but the rest have stayed. And there are two new buds. Nothing else remains from that shopping trip except a box of unbleached coffee filters and two bottles of wine. It seems too far to go now, too much of a risk.
The rose my husband buys me every Friday, this one a pale pink. The slightly puckered, but still beautiful, yellow rose of two weeks ago has been moved to my home-office windowsill.
A shot glass of violets, picked from the scrap of garden beside the garage door. We brought these from the last house we lived in, where they grew under a tree at the side of our driveway. They came from the house before that, where they were part of a rock garden on a slight hill that flanked our front steps. After the first day inside, they begin to crumple into fists, but they are still a bright spot of purple among neutrals.
I sit down to read a library eBook. Anchorless, with no pages to touch, no covers to study, I drift through novels and memoirs, not entirely sure what I’ve read when I reach the end. Still, I can disappear into someone else’s words. Maybe if I ingest enough of them, I’ll be able to produce some of my own. I keep an old notebook nearby. I jot down words, phrases, anything I think might eventually turn into an essay.
When I’m done reading, I set my device on the coffee table, next to a small glass vase that holds the last of the daffodils. I’ve been picking them twice a week for at least a month, while staying at home. They are some kind of lovely hybrid: Cream-colored, with centers thinly outlined in orange. At first, the petals were delicate and opaque, now they stretch and wrinkle like onionskin. Like my skin. Maybe tomorrow I’ll add them to the compost, along with the violets. I’m ready to let them go.
I carry my notebook to my desk, open Word, and hit “Create.” This time, I will not move my draft to “Trash.” I will choose “Save.”
“Take the balloon” Cheryle Strayed wrote in my book. Choose to save.
When did I lose the habit of editing before pressing “post”? Maybe it went out with the flowers onto the compost? Thank you, Melissa, for your beautiful words.
This made me smile. I often wonder that, too. Thank you, Jan.
Perfect, optimistic ending, Melissa. Bravo!
Thanks, Susanne, for your part in this!
Reassuring, eloquent, gentle. I needed this. I can make notes today. Thank you.
Yes, you can make notes today, Linda! Thanks for reading.
Inspired. Thank you, Melissa!
I can totally relate. Only my once-a-month writing group deadlines nudge me to write at all. My paper journal is full, my electronic “save” button untouched.
I’ve been reading a lot, too, but thinking . . . have you ever read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way? In one of the early chapters, she talks about going on a fast from words for a week. No reading, period. Her claim is that freeing your mind from other people’s words will allow your own creativity to come forth. Makes sense, but every time I get to that chapter, I set the book aside. I just can’t imagine; I think I’d lose my mind w/out reading.
Still, the idea intrigues me. This might be an interesting time to try it. Best of luck to you, thanks for the flowers!
Thanks so much, Melanie. I did read that book a long time ago. If I have a dry spell with writing, reading usually helps. I can’t imagine giving it up for any length of time. If you ever try it, be sure to let me know how it works!
[…] of hope from another writer who is kind of going through the same thing in her own way. Check out this post on Sanctuary, from the Brevity blog, and in the meantime, I’ll be over here trying to start myself a list […]
Thanks for sharing this on your blog! Good luck with your writing.
I loved this!
Lovely to read of your process of looking around and making note of beauty and of connection and may that continue to spur you on, and you writing of this helps spur me on. Thank you.
You are so welcome, Karen. Thank you for reading, and I’m glad you connected with my musings!
This streaming of your observations and thoughts was a real pleasure to read. It reminded me of my “special” time during early mornings before My Better Half wakes up and the demands of the day begin.
Thanks, Rae. Ah, yes, that morning time: black coffee, a crossword puzzle, and a book of poetry for me.
Am impressed and encouraged, well done
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