Early morning, dark & quiet. I listen to the breathing of the house: the clock that ticks too loudly, highlighting the solitude like a bad movie scene; the myriad of “sleep” sounds needed by –and created by– the four sleeping people down the hall; my own body creaking in its skin, reminding me that I am closer to old than to young.
Opening up my computer to begin writing and making a decision about which path to take, I am more cautious. Today I have an audience. Who will notice my overuse of the ellipses? Who will see the blank spaces between my words? The people who know me (or think they know me)… how will they digest my musings? Am I writing the beginnings of conversations that I have always avoided or am I ending the potential for them to ever begin? Will the painfully slow selection of words and phrases find their form in the world? And, ultimately, does this all beg the bigger question from my years studying Reader Response Theory: who controls the meaning, the author or the reader?
This act of writing forces me to not only sit with my thoughts and follow their dancing, random interactions, but to give them my full attention. The choice to settle on one each day, for 31 days, is a choice to dive deeper into myself and to do it publicly, allowing my words to move out into the world and, perhaps, find their meaning somewhere else. Readers will, hopefully, read, but they will not take my first steps into Thurston Hall, they will not hear my father’s gravelly praise tinged with hidden criticism, they will not sit at my mother’s table and watch the hawk watching her. Instead, they will recall their own initiation into true independence, wrestle with their own childhood demons, and consider their own passage of time.
And, beneath it all, even as I race to completion for today, there are the truths that emerge from my own personal Pandora’s box. Lying within the carefully placed commas and meticulously selected adjectives are the truths that will pull at me long after I think I am done.