Saturday, January 9, 2016

... a picture of a tree



I remember being told in high school that I was a good writer. It completely caught me off guard. I must have been a junior, I believe. I remember being the only one in the classroom, so I must have gone by her class before or after school. I was absent the day prior and was going over the things I missed. I remember her pulling out a partial roll of Girl Scout cookies from her desk and giving them to me.

“We had a party yesterday, and you missed it. But I saved you something.”

I didn’t even know she liked me to be honest, or that she even noticed me. I was painfully quiet and beyond shy. I freaked out any time I had to talk in class. I hated high school, really. All of it. I wanted to drop out. My attendance involved being ridiculously absent. I was all around miserable with my life and school only made everything feel worse. (It's interesting to see how long depression has played a role in my life, way before I ever realized it.)

So her words and kind gesture were so unexpected. We talked over a paper I had written. She loved the pieces of stories I told. I had a gift for imagery. She could see the scenes that I wrote so clearly. She encouraged me to write more. And to tell stories. I was good at it.

In a moment of openness, I told her that I had so many stories. We lived in the country and I was a huge animal lover. We had dogs and chickens and goats and gerbils and lizards and everything in between.

I remember telling her about Chick-Chick. How one day my brother found her left behind by the mama hen and other chicks. Her leg was broken and she couldn’t get around. So we rescued her. And my dad helped me make a splint for her leg with a plastic straw and electrical tape. I put her in a cage and nursed her back to health. We would change the splint every week or so until eventually she didn’t need it anymore.

My little chick grew up and was one of my closest pets. She’d follow me around the yard and fly on my arm pretty well on command.

And when it came time for her to become a mama hen and make her own nest, she found a spot in our garage in the nail box. Yes. My crazy little chicken made a nest of nails. She laid four eggs and two actually hatched.

I looked to my teacher and saw her smiling. She enjoyed listening to what I had to say. And I felt a twinge of excitement. Maybe I could write. Maybe this quiet girl who never had anything to say, actually did have something to offer.

I remember writing a packet of poetry at a different point. All of the poems were about nature. I spent tons of time finding pictures to print as the backgrounds. I don’t think anyone else did this. I don’t know why I did. I’m just weird like that. But one of my poems another teacher had marked that I should enter it in a contest. I knew that I never would do such a thing. But her words meant a lot. Again she mentioned the imagery. Again I was told I could make pictures with my words. Another bit of hope. Another chance to dream and have faith in a passion of mine.

Along the way I lost it. There would be moments and glimmers. But it never went anywhere. I never really pursued it. I barely graduated high school and had no intention of ever going to college. Eventually years later, I enrolled in a community college. Children had always been a joy for me. I babysat for as long I could remember. My first job was a nanny. My next job was a school bus monitor for special education high school students. I did childcare at my church. It only made sense that I would be a teacher.

But my desire to write always remained.

The end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 has been a bit weird. Different and challenging in new ways.

I’ve sat here and typed out hundreds of words that I keep erasing. None seem quite right. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say.

I have dreams. They seem more like fog than something I can define or touch or even really describe. They just sneak into my landscape quiet and slow. They change the way I see the world. And they are beautiful and wonderful, and don’t always appear when I want them too. And oddly enough, they’ve felt like a bit of an inconvenience as I’m trying to drive fast and get to my next destination. But on those days I slow down, take a breath, and look around, I see the sparkle.

I just got interrupted by Greg asking me to help him. I finished the previous sentence then sat my computer down on the bed. As I was getting ready to get out from the covers I felt something hit me. Greg had a huge mischievous smile on his face! I looked down. It was a snowball!!! I’ve been waiting MONTHS for the first snow of this winter season. I hadn’t even seen flurries yet.

After jumping up and down and screaming like a crazy person, I threw on my rain boots and a hoodie and ran outside with Mandy at 7:00 at night in my pajamas.

My husband threw a snowball at me in bed. How wonderful is my life?!

I can’t wipe the smile off my face. On a night where the remnant of depression and exhaustion clouded a bit of my vision. Where I sat here cuddled up in bed wanting to write, but not knowing what. Being drawn to ideas and thoughts of writing. Thinking through dreams and hopes and ideas not quite strung together. Once again putting words down on discouragement and sadness. But each time I got them out, feeling the need to delete them off the screen.

Then getting hit by a snowball in my bed. Joy. Excitement. Every bit of randomness. Moments catered to my personality.

I get caught up in the worry and the stress and the fear of missing it. I get distracted by thinking I'll never achieve the things I want. I worry about getting it all wrong.

So yeah, this post is all over the place. But dear readers, I’m sure you’d expect nothing less. And I'm living a piece of my dream. I'm writing and telling stories.

I was looking through pictures I took on a hike with Mandy and Greg a little over a week ago. I took like a dozen pictures of Mandy’s feet. The muddy, messy, hairy, loveliness of them.


I mean it’s hard to get more random than that.

Like going to see a waterfall and taking a picture of a tree.

Sometimes it's the waterfall that catches my focus. The noise and the rush of the water. But sometimes it's the skinny little tree, that can be so easy to not notice.

My dreams consist of things like this. I want to be like my teacher who listened to a shy girl tell a story. I want to rescue baby chicks. I want to encourage people to do the things that they love. I want to see the world and think about things deeply. I want to throw snowballs inside the house. I want to run around crazy like my doggie with the muddy feet. I want to write about all of the things.

I want to go to see a waterfall and take a picture of a tree.

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