If I see it, it shall Crack

If I see it, it shall crack.

If I touch it, it shall break.

 

I thought my walls were mortared brick. Barbed wire and galvanized steel. I watched you at the base of them, staring up. You, this skinny waif. What could you do? I’d rain acid on you and you stood there unmoving. I’d send volleys of sticks and stones and you endured, sloughing off the debris with a shrug of your bony shoulders.

When you reached your hand out, I held my breath. You looked at me and I cannot fathom what you saw but I exhaled when you lowered it again. Always with relief. You can’t do that.

Don’t do that.

You told me stories, juggling words and images like a jester. My lips stretched into a smile while we played together far apart, you looking up and me looking down. I didn’t notice, or maybe I pretended not to notice, but my line of vision narrowed to the exclusion of everything else.

You were rooted inches from me; like the trees you were so fond of and you insisted you had no desire to leave. Why would you, you asked. You had sunlight and shade and rain all in one place. You would grow strong here. Not could. Would.

What? Don’t say those things.

I couldn’t keep you. Don’t you see?

You showed me bright flowers. Spots of lovely color down on your level of the world. You pointed out furry fauna in the distance and I became enamored with the look of innocent merriment on your face. I opened my mouth and colors would come out to swirl around you and make you smile. Sometimes to make you cringe and I regretted those times. Regretted relying on you so much but I couldn’t help it. You listened and sympathized and I craved your wisdom; that of an old man thrice your age.

You coaxed me down from my parapet, step by reluctant step. Damn you. I didn’t even notice.

 

I always thought I was the flame.

Seeing you in front of me, I understand now I was the moth.

 

If I see it, it shall crack.

One day, after a long and painful and wonderful dance between us, I reached for you. I unlocked the door at the bottom and I pushed it open slowly, hand trembling, storms and tempests forgotten. I leaned against the door and closed my eyes, taking a breath before proceeding. I willed your hand to raise to me again. I promise I’ll catch it this time!

My heart was in my throat. It throbbed, adding to the desperation to get them out. But for a second, when I caught your eye and opened my lips to speak the pulsating words that would set us free, you looked away– For a moment, you turned away, distracted by a flash of color beyond my vision. It wasn’t the first time but this was the most important time.

If I touch it, it shall break

Everything shattered. Not brick and steel but the most delicate of glass, the bell jar that had been surrounding us until now, keeping us cocooned in our intimate dance. It rained down on us, cutting skin and making me scream. Not from pain. How DARE you look away?! Love turned to scorn in a flash and I flung my scorched blood in your eyes when you turned back around, bewildered and scared.

I tried to take a step. I don’t remember if it was forward of back but your hands flung open the door. They stopped me. I heard something snap and I gasped, vision blurred as the world went soft.

Oh God…

Not on the outside, but on the inside. It wasn’t bone or a muscle. Something intangible. I was flooded with molten sunlight like a break in the thunder clouds. It was then that I knew that if you started to walk away from me, I would have crawled over the shattered glass of my own making, naked on my belly, shredding my outer person to ribbons if it meant I could follow you.

Not that you would let me. No, you didn’t let me walk the path of pain in pursuit of you. Not now, not then. You would rather I walk across you as a bridge than harm myself further. Instead, you brought my face up to yours and breathed life into me, waking up seeds long dead and whispering to them in a secret language I barely remember.

You grew happiness in me and it bloomed slowly into something bright and real. Vibrant petals that shyly opened their faces to you. Fluorescent pink, speckled orange, palest beautiful yellow. Colors you waited for.

You, with your patience and your scars. You, whom I could not take my eyes off of, even sitting atop my walls. I was the arrow and you were my magnet, pointing steadfast north. I didn’t wiggle or waver such was your pull for me.

If I touch it, it shall break.

It wasn’t you that broke. I assumed it would be you because I’m me and that’s what I do. I hold things tightly and I break them. But you are deceptively strong. Your bones are thin but they are steel and your heart beats valiantly for the adventure ahead of us. You hold my hand confidently but when I want to run back to my tower, you let me because you know I’ll come back to you. The face you show me shines with hope and I’ve become addicted to it.

You dodged past my cynicism and doubt and you broke me with your gentleness. I lay comfortable in your arms now, surrounded by color and the tendrils of love wrap around us, binding us gently but firmly.

“I love you.”

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Pre-memory: Hope for a Friend

Blog from some indeterminate amount of time from the future:

It’s raining today. Imagine that. Rain in Spring time! It wasn’t like that in California. We barely had seasons, or rain for that matter. What a wonder it is to live somewhere that has proper seasons.

I sit in my cushioned window seat with a mug of milk tea, wrapped in a fluffy blanket and I smile at the drizzle. I love rain. There was never enough of it. It made my hair frizz out like a poodle and I often got colds from all the puddle jumping but it was a small price to pay. Now I’m especially grateful for it because it means the newly planted garden will be watered, the rain barrel will be a little fuller, and I have the chance to snuggle up with my new husband on his old couch, still rumpled from our morning love making.

Rain reminds me of renewal and there’s a lot of new things in my life.

My wedding is the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to big changes for me. It was only a few months ago but I unearthed my Wedding Photo Album yesterday while unpacking more boxes from the move and everything is fresh in my mind again. The personalized vows, the luxurious reception decorated in gothic red, black and silver, the dagger and heart pins that represented my past as well as my new husband’s. It was the “showy” wedding where everyone had been invited. Our personal and intimate vows had taken place months before in the woods in the middle of nowhere. Just us, a fire and the night sky.  The one picture we took out there was the first one I placed in our house in the middle of the fire place mantle.

There was a time where marriage to another man seemed ludicrous to me. After I’d messed up the first one and been broken irrevocably apart, I was extremely reluctant to repeat the experience. Who wanted to go through that kind of thing twice? But he wore me down with patience and love and logic. I’d been given room to explore this broken me and do as I wished since I had no children attached to me. I think I came around pretty well and it was on the upswing I’d met my now husband. My ex husband was, well–surviving I guess. We were face book friends and barely that. It was time for me now. Me and him. I didn’t stand a chance against him really, but I appreciate the fact he let me think I did.

Asshole.

I snorted and took a sip from my mug, amused at myself.

“You okay babe?”

I turned my gaze away from the wet outdoors to the dark haired man walking toward me with a water bottle in one hand and a plate of snacks in the other. My blood warmed at the look of his muscles through his black tank and the tattoos peeking out from underneath it. I’d licked and bit every inch of those tattoos. I would NEVER get enough.

“I’m friggin great,” I reply and smile coyly up at him, his blue eyes sparking at me.

“That you are.”

He set a plate of crackers, sausage and cheese on my lap and took the opportunity to capture my lips in a rough kiss. My chest filled up like a helium balloon and made me light-headed. Another new and amazing thing for me. I could have kisses whenever I wanted. I didn’t have to plan vacations around our schedules and drive thousands of miles to come and get them. He was here, with me, in the same room and I didn’t have to leave in x-amount of hours, crying as I pulled away from him into traffic and depression.

“Hey, I love you babe but your 5 minute break has already lasted 20. I’ve been painting the bedroom by myself.”

I pressed my lips together to stifle the giggle that wanted to escape and raised my eye brows in an “oh-so-innocent” expression.

“But look! It’s our first rain since the new garden was put in! I had to be sure the plants weren’t getting water-logged or beat up too badly! I’m protecting our hard work!”

His eyes went squinty on me and his mouth curved into a mock frown.

“Fine, finnnneeeee. Eat then and get your energy back. Looks like we’ll be sleeping on the fold out couch again.”

I smirked.

“You weren’t complaining about sleeping on the couch last night. Or this morning. But maybe it’s because we weren’t sleeping for a long time.”

He rolled his eyes and kissed me again with a satisfied smile, sitting by my legs and popping a sausage in his mouth.

I repeated his actions and crunched on a cracker,  returning to look at the green, beautiful world outside my very first home. MY OWN HOME! A dream come true. Two bedrooms, one bath with a front AND back yard (our number one criteria). I’d be using half the garage for my crafting/writing studio and the second bedroom would be his office. I was like a little kid in a toy store going to Lowe’s and picking out paint colors together and filling our basket with lush greenery. I’d finally have my herb garden! We’d already ordered new furniture and we made plans to go antique shopping for accents and lamps and pictures later that week. He played it cool for the most part but I knew he was thrilled to be sharing this with me.

Happy wife, happy life.

We had debated for a while about renting first and not going into debt straight out of our wedding vows with a big purchase like a house. I was okay with that. The market was wider for rentals and we could leave without a fuss if something happened. I’d managed to save a little money from my various grants and scholarships and the psychology jobs I’d landed and he’d been working steadily as a grease monkey for a few years at hot rod shops. Not glamorous but I got free rides in sexy fast cars whenever I was in town. We had a little money pooled together to start-up.

But then I had an offer I couldn’t refuse. Right at the tail end of finalizing our wedding plans, I got a call from a publishing agency. A big one. Like, head hancho big wig in literature agency. They wanted to publish my biography as a series of fictional novels.

Yeah, no shit! My jaw hit the floor and still hasn’t quite rolled itself back up into neutral position.

I’d pitched the idea to them beginning of last year and had crossed my fingers as I pushed the “send” button on my computer. I’d dealt with traditional publishers before. Usually it was an agonizing first month of silence, then a depressed two months of zilch and finally resultant acceptance for the next four to six months. When the rejection letter came, I wasn’t surprised or even hurt. It was what it was and writing was a competitive business. Honestly, when the offer came in I had been completely buried in wedding plans and had forgotten about it. I thought it was a prank from one of my oh-so-charming soon-to-be brothers in law. (They’d been saved a skinning. Would have looked funny during the wedding all gooey and red.)

The advance the agency gave me on the books was more money than I’d ever had in the sum of all my working days. I was afraid to cash the check, thinking still that it might be some sort of prank or scam even though my agent cut it herself. I’d witnessed it. But it was enough to send me to the internet and look at the price of buying instead of renting. When I came forward with the idea and a solid list of acceptable properties, I was rebuffed. I looked at him in chagrin.

My soon to be husband had a surprise of his own.

He’d been offered a job at a start-up custom car company in Texas. They catered to restoring old cars and motorcycles, something that he had always wished to get in to. After getting a few stable positions at the garages and getting some experience under his belt, he decided that he was ready for a change. He’d been sitting on the decision for a little while since the chaos of my book contract and my traveling schedule didn’t leave us a lot of face time.

“That’s a fucking awesome offer. You you need to get on that right NOW!”

I don’t know if he expected me to have doubts or play the devil’s advocate for him or what but my complete acceptance took him aback at first. Change had always bothered me and he knew it. Perhaps he thought I’d be overwhelmed or reluctant. But with this, I saw a future blooming before us. There was no doubt in me that this was what we were going to do. Get married, pack up, and move to Texas.

As soon as he had finalized the e-mail to his future employer, I hauled him to the floor and instilled some wicked rug burns on my knees and elbows. Sweaty, light-headed and very satisfied, I laughed and felt happy tears streak down my cheeks. This was the culmination of all the waiting we’d been doing. This was the reward for years separated, for failure and divorce and unemployment. Our lives were about to begin anew.

We found a few fixer-upper houses and flew out to inspect them. I put in an offer on our first pick and we spent our time waiting for the answer to come in exploring our future town and meeting with his company heads. I immediately located all the crafting stores and quickly found a favorite cafe to write in that had amazing hot milk tea and scones. When we got the house and signed our names (BOTH OUR NAMES!) on the dotted lines my only regret was I couldn’t yet attach my married name to the signature.

Now, here we are, in a run down two bedroom that holds all our merged belongings, our shared hopes and future dreams.

“I love you,”I said aloud and brought his attention back to me. “Thank you for being here.”

“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

He raised a paint-streaked finger and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear.

“Except maybe the bedroom, painting.”

“Or on the couch, not sleeping,” I answered and laughed when he waggled his eyebrows.

I love my life. Took a while to get here but it’s not about the goal is it? It’s about the journey.

Cowboy up!

Writing is tough. It is. Authors put parts of their souls onto paper for people to critique or love or hate. The idiots that scoff and wave their hands and say writing is easy obviously have never tried. Not seriously anyway.

In a way, writing is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. Even giving birth to my two children was easy compared to this. The pain was temporary and the joy is endless. Not so with a novel. You toil much and edit mercilessly for a manuscript that MIGHT get published or most likely, will get rejected.

I failed my challenge this month. I failed my 52k in May. I had a lot of life-changing shit going on so excuse me for not being able to concentrate on making my dreams come true. Even professional writers get reprieves for this kind of stuff.

I’m not as upset by this as I used to be. I used to beat myself up every NaNoWriMo I didn’t win. I realize now that there’s no rush to make this particular dream come true because I can get published at any age and there’s a whollleeeeee lot I need to learn before that can happen anyway.

The most important lesson I’ve learned over the last couple years is this:

Dust yourself off. Get on the bull again. Cowboy up!

Cowgirl…whatever.

I got knocked on my ass. I took a break despite many blogs advising against it. (Taking advice is another part of my journey I suppose.) Things are still shaky and weird and the writing momentum is completely lost. So now it’s time to build myself back up. I won’t be able to write 2K a day but I CAN write everyday. That’s more important anyway. Write until it becomes habit. It’s the foundation of every novelist.

This is one of the reasons I say writing is one of the hardest things to do, especially for nublets. Changing habits can be hard. Learning to set aside time to write and make it a priority when everything else is also pressing against you wanting to be number one priority as well is exhausting to sort out. It feels like when you bring one thing closer and focus on it, everything else goes to crap.

Exercise more and the house suffers.

Cook and eat healthier and the writing suffers.

Write more and the family suffers.

I bet you didn’t know you’d have to learn to juggle when you decided to become a writer huh? Yeah me either.

I know it’s all about balance and finding the routine that works for you. But even this can crumble under the overwhelming circumstances. So what do ya do?

COWBOY UP.

Get right back on it. Accept the fact you failed this time and you probably will many more times afterward. But never sink low enough to be a quitter. Remember this is the path you chose. You didn’t choose it because it was easy. You chose your dream and now you have to follow it.

“Does the walker choose the path or the path choose the walker?”~ Abhorsen, Garth Nix

Even if it’s by a thread, hang on. Face the fear of failure and conquer it by choosing everyday to write one word. Ten words. Five hundred words. Take a break if you need; reevaluate your priorities if you need. You can change the direction of your path. Just don’t quit on it completely.

My grip on this concept is tenuous at best right now. I remember when I started this I was going to have novels piled on more novels and I was going to make millions and put my girls through college. I was going to tour the US and Europe like J.K. Rowling and be famous and then take a sojourn to my little castle on a hill somewhere with my herd of Pit Bull doggies.

That’s still possible. It’s just a much farther off vision than I anticipated. I’m scared it won’t ever happen. But that’s why having a solid foundation of good writing practices is important. Start at the base and then build your pillars. If they fall down, build them again, stronger. And above all don’t EVER give up.

Just don’t.

COWBOY UP instead.