Writing lifts me. It is the sunset that I stare into, reminded in one moment that there is so much beauty to life and there is a Maker that painted this for our pleasure. It is a single petal lined with veins in an entire garden: wrought with intricate detail, blushing with color and complexity, one piece that creates a whole flower.
Writing teaches me to pull up a chair for Fear and Despair, forces me to sit at the table with Sadness and Desire. We argue at this table; wrestling for each of our voices to be heard. Sometimes Depression sits outside the door, waiting to be invited. But we never let it come; we only yield when it forces itself inside.
It is the attic filled with archived videos and dusty memories that I explore. How do you translate a home cooked meal? The multiple pairs of shoes left by the front door for a Filipino gathering? A first crush?
It is magic as we stretch minutes apart, laboriously describing the thick white foam of a latte in autumn’s cool mornings. Then we use magic again to compress time, braiding the past with the present, only to then speak truth into the future.
I sat against my couch, slumped against the thin cushion. I had three more things on my to-do list for the day, but the clock showed it was already 10 PM. I sipped the hot black tea from my ceramic mug, allowing the hot water to fill me and possibly give me strength.
How did I get so busy? And how did my schedule feel so unmanageable?
I’ve been daydreaming of those days that I used to lie on my stomach on my teenage bed. I would kick my feet into the air and let them swing past each other. I’d call my mom, who worked 60 hour weeks at a corporate office in addition to commuting three hours each day, and wait for her to answer her work line. “This is Linda,” she’d say, rehearsing the same words she has said for over a decade at the company. “Mom,” I’d whine. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” she’d say, concerned. “I’m bored.” I listened to the silence on the other line. That deafening silence that I didn’t understand as a teenager. At that time, I’d interpret that silence as if my mom didn’t care about this serious circumstance that I was going through. I’d assume that she was too busy staring at her computer screen, prioritizing work over me. “Oh.” she’d say, before suggesting a list of things that I could do. “I don’t want to.” I’d say, pouting, sinking deeper into my loneliness. “Kristine, I’m busy. I’ll call you later.” I hung up and huffed. “Fine,” I’d say to my empty bedroom.
As an adult, I now know that my mom’s silence was self-control. It was a moment to regather herself and empathize with a teenager who was home alone. I imagine myself now, the quick pace of life that catapults me through each day, receiving a call from a hypothetical teenager who is whining about being bored. Now, I would give that teenager a stern lecture about the luxury of boredom. I would explain that it’s a season of life- a very short season of life- and that they should enjoy it. “It may feel like hell,” I’d say to this hypothetical child, “but right now it’s what I imagine my heaven to look like.”
I took another sip of tea, pulling myself into the present moment. I felt the weariness sit on my shoulders like a thick coat. I saw all of the uncelebrated victories unrecognized and emotionally shelved. I sighed deeply. Then, with small, childlike impulse, I closed my yearly planner with its three tasks pending. I curled my knees onto the couch, slipped my laptop out of its sleeve, and revisited my teenage years in a different way.
I pulled up a blank word document, finding pleasure in the blinking line. I recognized this page, returning to it after each conversation with my mom. I began to write, spilling secrets and feelings. I didn’t have time for it. I didn’t have a purpose. But I felt it like a hospital patient given an IV drip. It gives me sustenance and energy through perspective and healing. I walk away a little less broken. Or rather, I walk away more aware of how to recover.
Writing is my safe space. It is the room of my therapist’s old office, that long grey couch with cushions that were compressed at the ends but still fluffy in the middle; does that mean so many of her couples sat apart? It’s my grandmother’s soft and wrinkled skin, the warmth of a blanket on a cold day.
This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series "Write Anyway."