A Yankee's Musing

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Writing to Live

Two different conversations lately reminded me of why I write. Since I really don't beieve in coincidences, I knew I'd better let the memories find their way onto "paper" to see what they have to say to me, if anything. And so I am writing to find out what I am thinking.

I can't remember not writing, whether it was through pictures or words. Since I had no space of my own as a kid in our little house, I took over the oldest of the three ancient apple trees in our backyard. I spend time every day in that tree, about midway up where the gnarled limbs wound a seat of sorts that just seemed to fit me. There I would write. And when I was done, I'd clamor down the tree and unearth a box that a neighbor Clark Poss made and gave to me when I was six. I put all my writings in that box, then buried it under my tree.

I don't remember when this sort of behavior began, but I do recall my mother telling me that I mastered tree climbing, as I did fishing and swinging, by age three. So that's probably about the time my gatherings began. I didn't have siblings, although I had a cousin, Bill, who was like a big brother to me, and I didn't have a pretend friend like lots of kids do. My writings--my stories, my thoughts, my feelings--they were my friends.

When I completed 8th grade, we moved from the country into the city. I was excited about that move: I would have a room of my own; I would live near my school so I could walk and no longer ride a school bus for two hours a day; and I would be able to participate in after school activities and maybe even get a steady part-time job rather than the catch-as-I-can babysitting jobs in the winter and berry picking in the summer. With all of this newfound grow-up opportunities in mind, I decided to leave my box behind, buried under the tree. It would not only be safe there, it would also symbolize my new beginnings. From then on I planned to buy spiral ring notebooks for my writings and keep them in a real bookcase in my own room.

The notebooks filled and gathered dust in my bookshelf through high school and college. Toward the end of college, I was at a party in the Coops, a student off-campus living complex, with some friends and drinking to how we would soon be off on our separate ways. We spoke about new beginnings, and of course, I remembered my box that I had left behind under an old apple tree so long ago. We went to dig it up right then and there; but I was horrified to discover some things do change, and like Joni Mitchell's song about change, we found the apple trees gone and the backyard now "paved in a parking lot." We returned back to the Coops, drank some more, and it didn't take much encouragement to form a "posse" of women who
armed themselves with with shovels and a pick axe and left before light to "right the wrong" done not only to me, but to nature itself. Needless to say, our not so quiet foray awoke the entire neighborhood, and we were caught, arrested, and finally realeased--empty handed, of course, and with a promise never to return and commit such a fruitless, destructive attack on private property.

Maybe unconsciously, when I started to write for my life after my cancer diagnosis, I wanted the writings accessible over time, not buried and not gathering dust on some bookshelf. My writing was not a choice, it was a need. Luckily in this crazy technological age of ours, there is such a thing as a blogsite which came to me, not by coincidence, but by good fortune of having a techie friend. He has told me that whatever is put out there on the "net," is out there forever. The catch is, of course, although it is out there forever, with the breakneck speed that technology is developing and abandoning old avenues of access to "out there," I may not be able to "dig up" what is mine forever. Kind of ironic, really.

But what the hey, I am writing. I often check on it. Sometimes I reread it; sometimes I add to it. Often I just check for comments, and also what other travelers have stopped by to read my meanderings. The best thing for me, of course, is the actual process of writing--it allows me to hear myself, and if I can hear myself, I am still very much alive.