Post by Kelly Greenwood
I heard once that the books you read when you are eleven are the most formative books you will read in your life. Sounds like pretty soft science, unprovable in the tangled mess that is human life, but interesting to think about. Especially given that the books I read when I was eleven were among the genre of The Call of the Wild and My Side of the Mountain, and now I lead wilderness expeditions and teach environmental education. So maybe there is something there.
There are two people someone might refer to as “hipsters” posted up directly in front of me. I saw them at the coffee shop earlier, her in a pair of baggy, split-legged pants, a black top with plunging neckline, long, un-blowdried hair twisted up into a loose bun on top of her head. And he in a fedora, a bird’s feather tucked into one side, baggy, cloth pants, and deeply sun-tanned skin. They both sat and typed away on their shiny laptops, no doubt working away at freelance or remote jobs, their only connection to the real world.
Hot, so hot. The sun was like a member of the family, unyielding and exacting. We planned our days by its moods.
Whether or not the temperature was below 100 degrees determined if we left the house or not. The heat was a presence, a heavy blanket that sat upon our skin, sucking the moisture out. The taste of it seared my lungs as I breathed it in, boiling my insides.
Three strands: Me, my mother, and sleepwalking
A beginning: white, translucent skin kissed by the sunlight in a thousand scattered freckles, so similar in body, her skin, my skin, her compassion, now mine. She is the owner of the love in me, my first draft, me her masterpiece.
Growing up wild in the desert, her mini me, infusing her into me, her music, her burning incense, her fingertips covered in slick aloe vera, sending the sharp, healing scent into my pores.
Think about it. Where do our obsessions come from? Mine: reading, words, the earth, the stars, the universe, melancholy music, edgy images, fairy tales. These are the product of my childhood.
I was born in the desert, a steampunk wonderland of oases and sand dunes, raised on dusty books that smelled like age, fairy tales that took me away from the screaming in the living room (for I must have heard it, though I don’t remember it), the drawn out and vibrating melodies from the record player on the bureau, lulled to sleep by songs about pain and love and heartbreak and searching, songs about life.
I write to feel the scratch of pen against paper. I write to see my words, scrawled in spidery black, pink, purple, and blue cursive across the paper, marching in a line from some beginning to some unknown end.
I write because it brings me closer to that feeling I have no name for, that place I can’t identify, that memory I can’t quite put my finger on. I write because it sends blood to my heart and sets it aflutter.
I came across an article last week that got me thinking about reading. The article was featured in an online publication called the DorsetECHO, named after the county in South West England. The headline read “BBC journalist Kate [Adie] pays tribute to the bravery of adults learning to read”. It’s really no surprise that this article caught my attention; for those of you who know me, you’ll be familiar with my motto that reading is my one addiction (besides Mexican food). I love reading, always have, and it’s hard for me to imagine what it would be like not to be able to do it.
One of the hardest things about writing—and don’t get me wrong, there are many; this is just one of them—is finding a quiet place to write where you won’t be disturbed. I swear that every time I settle down and start to work, someone moseys up and enters “my special place.” It’s almost as though the sight of me sitting there, engrossed in my work, sends a direct signal to those nearby that says, “Hey, she looks like she could use a friend. Let’s have a chat!”