During this past year, writing saved me. Writing evokes tremendous energy. Time spent writing is never wasted. Walks through woods along paths of creamy dogwood and raspberry-sorbet trees, inspire reflection … always a good use of time. She remembered exploring her grandparents’ house as a little girl, especially the second floor sewing room. Pink-cheeked china dolls and a stuffed rabbit in orange overalls lay tucked in baby carriages under crocheted blankets. The old woman goes to her bedroom closet and looks inside at the faded gray rabbit in orange overalls on a shelf next to a worn pair of high heels. What does she have but her memories?
Aging, like lichen on a rotting log, offers crusty lessons. We have no control, are at the mercy of greater forces. All we can do is try our best. This April morning, I see the old woman in a cool, green meadow. Her ambition, her ego, even her bygone relationships become moments of being, always with a pen and a good book by her side.
It’s popular these days to ponder: How did the pandemic change me? But wasn’t I always the girl squirreled away in her bedroom with a good book? Wasn’t I always scribbling in a diary or spiral-bound notebook, or reporting on events, people and places? Wasn’t I always the woman fighting doubt and lack of confidence that what she wrote mattered to anyone but her?
Writing is hard work. Reading helps ease the strain. This year I became a fan of Emily St. John Mandel‘s work because she writes about dystopia and end times. My favorite read, though, Where the Crawdads Sing, for the sheer luxury and beauty of the written word. I opted for the easy read, the page turner. A Kristen Hannah novel: Winter Garden and The Four Winds. Admission and The Undoing by Jean Hanff Korelitz. When it came to memoirs, I picked up Educated by Tara Westover and Becoming by Michelle Obama. I gave up on library ebook rentals. Although nothing kept me busy, everything kept me busy. The days flew by and I couldn’t finish books loaned for only two weeks. Sometimes, it took three weeks or more.
It’s hard to say where the days, where the time has gone this strange and terrible year. One thing I know for certain. Everything comes full circle, back to that good book, back to that open notebook and pen, back to that young girl and old woman trying to write this year and every year.