story lost and found.

8 January 2013 § Leave a comment

I seem to have misplaced some of my travel experiences. The ones that didn’t make the cut of the Stories I Most Often Tell got lost in the ether somehow, or hide out quietly in the softer regions of my heart, unwilling to be told flippantly at a party by my blabbering mouth. No, they deserve more respect than that.

Three trips abroad, and I have used photography to focus less and less on me and my baggage. The last one, nearly a year living in Central America, I lost my camera early on, and haven’t looked through a viewfinder since. Before that, I used a stuffed spider named Boris to take my place in pictures taken in Amsterdam, Munich, Budapest. Wherever. I didn’t want to be a part of it. I thought I needed photos to make it real. I didn’t. I needed me to make it real.

The memories themselves I haven’t forgotten – I remember the smell of sulfur at Dettifoss in Iceland, as millions of gallons of water fell into a hellish abyss every second, and how the spray felt on my face, how it crept inside my rain coat and soaked my t-shirt. I remember my footsteps inching closer to the edge of the wet rock, and wanting to look farther down, as if the heavy mist would clear just for me, as if the water would stop falling just so I could feel the depth of its journey.

No, they’re not gone; they have woven into the fabric of my being, stretched my smile lines wider, found their way into my open wounds and spun fire with my DNA. They are as much a part of me as the blood pumping through my heart.

I read somewhere that new cells replace every cell in the human body every seven years. That would mean that I am entirely a new physical entity from who I was seven years ago. Bigger changes have occurred in the universe than my cellular reconstruction, like the Big Bang and the dying of certain stars. My gratitude for these catastrophes undulates between the depths of Dettifoss and the peaks of the mountains I’ve climbed in search of my shadow. With a constant practice of thanks I try to keep the waves down, but the wind works in mysterious patterns, and I don’t want the responsibility of controlling the weather. All I can do is say ‘thank you’ to the postman for bringing me words, and to the saxophone player on the west side of the Ross Island Bridge for playing his heart out even when it rains.

For a month I’ve been reading and playing around with The Artist’s Way, doing the necessary morning pages, and I’ve yet to take myself on an artist date. The idea, according to author Julia Cameron, is to set aside specific time for yourself to do whatever you desire: go to a museum, go for a hike, trip out on people in a coffee shop, masturbate – absolutely anything to spark the artist within. It’s an active search for inspiration, and a practice of allowing what Is to channel through you. Let your inner child play. Let your inner artist create. Shut off the phone and the rest of the day, and give yourself the time you’d give to a lover. Drop off the face of the planet for a few hours, and love yourself.

Me, I’d like some time with a notebook and a pen. Or a computer that features only a word processor – no internet, no games, no distractions. I want to see what comes out. I’ve become friends with the wordpress ‘Add New Post’ page because it feels like an open forum. I don’t have to worry about who might read it, or who might not. It’s practice in sharing, like in kindergarten: here, look at this memory, looks at these words. They’re mine, and now they’re yours.

In the back of my mind I wonder how much I’m willing to share, how much would be safe to share, how much trouble would I get in if I shared everything. And I write somewhat regardless. Change some names, leave out others. Those I don’t share are my soap operas and moments I haven’t figured out what to do with.

I wonder what I could give more detail on. Probably everything. The magic, said someone speaking on James Joyce, is when a writer can completely recreate everyday life, and not miss a beat. Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man did that for me. So does Junot Diaz. I feel like I swim between them: convention keeps my voice formal (for example, I’m scared to dash my dialogue like I’ve wanted to do since I read You Shall Know Our Velocity!), and few things titillate me more than opening my voice up and writing a story exactly how I’d like to, tossing the rules out the window and writing the way that some have loved me for. If I were to listen to the advice written on the lululemon bag sitting on the floor collecting our rubbish, I would go do that. ‘Do one thing a day that scares YOU’ it says. I thought they should have emphasized scared, but that’s neither here nor there. I think I’m going to go write a story now.


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