I have long been avoiding the digging of the trail that leads to my writing studio.
When we first moved into this house, not quite one year ago now, I realized that I would need a foot path to the outpost, the camper we had spent an entire month of the summer living from on the road, in order to stay above the mud. I dug up pavers and bricks no longer in useful places around the yard, laid them down in an interval that worked and left it at that.
Last year was a busy one. The path did the trick and the reality is that I did not often traverse the terrain to the studio anyway.
Come this summer. I consider taking out all the shelving in the camper, the table and seating area, and redoing the interior walls in order to open it into a single lounge chair and table–a writing haven with bright light streaming the windows. I climb in, one day in the high heat, take out a single upper bunk platform and decide this is not the year for such immense renovations. Once I tear out structure, I am likely to face the real water damage and be into the unpredictable long term project, which is tearing the aluminum and wood back to its base and building again from scratch. I don’t have the money or time, and I don’t have the patience right now. I am writing my book, and this would be an undeniable diversion from my core.
No, the tearing out of the platform serves its purpose: it was a pain in the ass. The rest will only get worse.
I do order a poster: The Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, as talisman to my task:
The writing of matrilineal trauma.
Over the course of this last semester (I went back to pursue an MFA in order to give myself time–a single mother with three boys–to write), I came into what would be and has become my next book. I wrote a fiction novel in my early twenties. An instructional booklet later. This book, well, I didn’t come back to write memoir; but then, the only choice as writers is whether to follow the muse or not.
So here I was, a busy semester, a busy mother and every other excuse under the sun, which leads to now nearing July.
Today, I made the amniotic decision to send my kids to another womb (the public pool), sit at my kitchen table and write some damn words.
The book finally resumes its flow.
Time to dig the trail.
Literally, need to dig the path to the writing studio, fix the pavers so they are in a configuration that works and not ricocheting around the trail. I also notice that despite the fact I’ve let two thirds of the yard (on purpose) go to wild grass, flower, thistle and such, I have not weed whacked enough space on the path to the camper to prevent thistles in the legs and ass, hands if trailing low.
Suddenly this makes no sense. Why increase resistance when I can make it less?
I widen the path.
I notice along the way that the thistle are about to bloom. Purple stars.
Could this be better metaphor for my own state of being?
Today is hot as hell. Ninety degrees and muggy. The flat shovel, the one I hoped I could use for the entire path, was of little initial use. The weeds growing up through the dirt are strong af. It will take the sharp pointed shovel to extricate.
As words. The first drafts. This. The one I wrote today. The stories of our lives. The excising or exercising or exorcising of trauma through words is not blunt it is sharp, to the point, raw and leaving behind the jagged removal. This shovel was power to the first words.
And it hurt. My arms out of practice and aching. An exercise in persistence. Dig, hack, drive, shove, lift, throw into the thistle and rest. Sweat dripping down my forehead and pooling beneath my breasts. Hair matted and smashed against my face. Nothing graceful in the reaper scene.
It took longer than expected.
Hurt more than I thought it would.
But the blunt edge, the shovel, the next one in the process, the one that would then make the ground even, it was not any easier, just different. As it is in editing. Trimming the sections that were left too high, filling in the divots and canyons. Making it even only to then lay the brick and find out more fine tuning is needed. I had to take a break. Go inside. Eat pineapple. Throw water on my face, fix the barrette, examine the sweat, give witness to my carnage.
This path has been in the making for a very long time.
I’ve thought of it over and over.
I was prepared for permutations.
I look at the pavers now.
They are — -
they are what they are.
It feels right, almost.
The front of the row needs its own beginning, like a title of sorts.
And that has not yet manifested, though it will.
It also needs its fill. The earth to grow around. I am not here to manicure. I am more interested in what will grow in the signposts I’ve left behind. The way nature will make her amendments. The collaboration of a universe.
So I’ll leave the trail to be grown in around. For the hard shelled beetles and spiders to remake their homes. For the green to grow up between my punctuation. I know my words, my edits, my own take is only a part of the path.
But it is now clear, at least, this trail to the door of trauma.
Flat pavers, bricks and kinesthetic memory. Cord defined.
With each traverse, I swap sides of this womb.