I’m sitting in my new writing spot, my desk beside the window. The window sill harbors plants – a rejuvenated morning glory, a repotted jade, and a long and spindly moonflower whose single vine climbs in the muted light up the window, threads itself around the undressed curtain rod, then descends, it’s tendril dropping dramatically into space. The window is open, and in the distance I see thin gray clouds, the tops of trees and houses, other windows, white-blue sky. The low, present sound of traffic changes and I look outside again to see a swift downpour. The rain is hard for a few moments, pounding. It is translucent, gradients of light becoming lighter. The stream of cars spray through sudden puddles. The rain stops as quickly as it began, and the light changes slightly. It is surprisingly brighter.
Recently a friend of mine lent me “Just Kids” by Patti Smith. I read the book quickly, within a day, indulging in reading like a guilty pleasure. This month has been a whirlwind of activity, a seemingly endless list of things to-do, being pulled in all different directions mentally and emotionally, plus moving furniture on a daily basis. And books! Oh I must confess that I do not mind moving the books, mostly because I get to clean the bookshelves and dust the books thoroughly while touching them all! It’s a very tactile process for me, and I love deciding which books to put back into which shelves. The memory of each book as it passes through my hands again is special to me. I relive the contents all over again, put aside ones that I want to re-read, and find those that I forgotten about in my weekly trips to library book sales, when I would buy more books than I could possibly read at once, for only a few dollars.
So even though I have been moving a lot of books, I hadn’t quite had the time to sit around and read, which sometimes feels like a luxury. I like both Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe’s work quite a bit, and I liked the book, which was a personal account of their relationship with art and with each other. I thought it was well-written, and incredibly romantic in many ways. I love that Patti’s complete and total faith in art has lead the path of her life to such interesting places. From the beginning, she was very exploratory in her process, knowing first and foremost that she was an artist, and that mind-set carried her as she worked to express herself in different mediums. I always find it interesting to read biographies and autobiographies, to see the recollection of events and paths which lead them to the artistic places they blossomed, where they were meant to be. I like the lens which puts everything together into a cohesive perspective, the memories which illuminated their path, the moments when the present meets the past with surprise and inevitability.
At this point in my life, I can look back on the paths of my life and see those threads. It is an interesting place to be. In the beginning of my artistic life, I was reflexive, following my instincts in terms of who I was. For some time, I wanted to be a writer before I crossed the subtle threshold into being a writer. What being a writer meant, I never tried to define. It was something I did, something that set me a little apart from the world. Sometimes that saddened me, sometimes that excited me. I never doubted my path as a writer. Nevertheless, I never considered that I would make any money from writing, so I’ve always differentiated my writing life from my work life.
Being a writer is something I don’t usually advertise in my daily life. I’ve held many different jobs where my co-workers had no idea I was a writer. Time is a constant issue. I am also a single parent, and from the time I was 24, my children have been my main priority in my daily life. Most days, my priority list is: family, work, writing. Writing is something that is paradoxically the center of my life and one of the last priorities I can give my time to. Many times, I steal time to write. I always feel like I’m writing in my head. My mind does not shut off, ever, it seems. I have a list of ideas for stories that are still whispering to me, trying to be worked out in my head, for when I have the time. Free time (!) seems like such a luxury to me. One of the things that struck me most about “Just Kids” was the sheer amount of freedom that Patti Smith demanded in her life so that she could pursue her art. Even now, as I write this blog post, I know I could (should?) be doing a million other things.
Yet, I know that this is important too. I haven’t been writing on my site as much as I would like over the past several months. I had started a blog post that I saved to draft, and I also wanted to share more in my reading series. Things are just beginning to level out a little bit, or so it seems for now, so I’m hopeful that I will have more time to post soon. Recently I wrote in my journal for the first time since the move. It seems like since May, there have been significant changes every couple of weeks. But for now, time to write has opened up for me. The children are both in high school. I’ve started working on the first few stories on my list. Last night, there was a beautiful full moon, an eclipsing blood moon. The air was crisp and cool. It felt amazing to breathe in the moon last night.
The world is turning. The air is cooler. The equinox came with a shy bid; Autumn is here. The world is changing. Always, always. But for now, it feels good to sit here by the open window, to feel the soft breeze through the screen. There is still time to write before the children come home from school, before I have to go to work. The remainder of the afternoon stretches before me. The birds are singing, the rainstorm is long gone, the world is stained with memory, fallen sky, liquid stars.