The very best writers do not write because they want to tell stories but because they have to. It is a daily requirement. Like going to the bathroom and blowing your nose when it's full of... yeah. Because when you HAVE to write, it shows. Even if you don't want to, necessarily. (Some of the best writing happens when we don't want to write. Some of the best parenting happens when we don't want to parent and some of the best _____ happens when we don't want to ____.)
"Do what you HAVE to do," I tell my kids. "Even if sometimes you don't want to."
This community was built on that idea. Remember? Before there were ad banners and site meters and SEO and link-bait and self-promoting fan pages, we were all just writing because it was the only way we knew how to listen to each other and hear ourselves.
Christina is one of the first blogs I read back in 2005, and her voice has always been pulpy with wisdom and hope. (Years ago, when friends would ask who to read online, I would would first send them links to Christina and Kate, both of whom pushed me to write hearter. They still do.)
And so. Into the winter we go...
The winter stayed and stayed. Snow came, then fell again with a vengeance, white, whiter, small hills gathering curbside. Softer snow layered with frozen rain and sleet. Our own glacial record, keeping the things we lost: A single mitten, pocket change, our sense of permanence, the feeling of home. It was the coldest year on record. Biting. Sharp. I spent from November until April in Sorrel boots; wore my grey woolen beanie hat indoors; stopped smiling at strangers (not for lack of interest but because it required too much exposure of cheek and neck). The days grew longer, but the cold lasted. And along with it, a growing, restlessness, a gradual anxiety; a realization that this, here, might not be enough anymore for many reasons. Some more complicated than others. The least of them being the weather, but the most acceptable to share about here.
In retrospect the universe was probably conspiring. In the moment it felt like everything skittered right up against the edge. Things happened slowly, then all of a sudden. It felt like it feels when you almost fall on black ice, but catch yourself just before and walk away, your heart still beating hard.
Everywhere else spring arrived. I watched on Instagram. People had cherry blossoms, camellias, daffodils by the arm-full. Here, it was snow or days of spitting sleet. Temperatures in the low teens. Hunched shoulders. Worry. The feeling of having outgrown our circumference. Uneven footing. A flirtation with change. The idea of moving West. An inkling. A passing remark, here. A half finished sentence there. What-ifs showing up in my morning pages; the words “spend more time on the Pacific” in my ; and then we started looking in earnest. Then we flew out, fell in love with the city of roses and bridges, saw friends, ate so much good food, interviewed many places, and T landed his dream job.
Or something. Something like that. Sort of. Minus the hundred thousand anxious moments. Minus all the things beyond our control. Minus the anxiousness stitched together to make days, and the logistical conversations we had over and over again on repeat...
Read more, here.
a post she wrote in January which took my breath away. Of course. Always and forever.
...The boys want to poke their booted toes in; I imagine hypothermia. My voice snaps fiercely in the cold air. They look surprised. And when we come close to the shore, they walk along the lake’s broken lip where the cattails rattle, and as the ice cracks and bows under their weight, they laugh with glee and stamp harder. I bark warnings, imagining them sinking under.
So here I am, learning to exist at the edge of the unknown, where my fears rise up again and again. I am afraid what I can’t control, of the things I do not know, of outcomes that aren’t certain, of edges I don’t know how to trust.
It takes a long time for me to realize why I am here, skating on dark ice; how these moments are exactly the metaphor I need.
My breath catches. I release it.
Out there, on the wide open of the icy lake the fishermen silently sit on over-turnned buckets, not moving at all.
Their stillness is a kind of knowing I must learn. Their patience quiet and long.
Wearing thick parkas with fur close to their cheeks, they watch the small hole at their feet for signs of life. Sometimes there is a flicker. Once, twice, they pull in a fish. But the point isn’t that quick action; that flick of wrist and tug of line. Waiting is. Waiting, until even that ceases to be the point, and they simply are. Being. Hearts beating a steady thunder under layers; breath gathering in the stillness above them, signaling a silent gracious prayer:
I love her light. And her truth. The dance she does with her words, be it waltz or running man. Thanks for sharing your gifts, sister friend.