I got more snow last night. I can't say how much I miss hearing the sounds of birds' voices, especially the mourning doves cooing me awake every morning. It seemed like a good day to paint feathers.
I could've been a writer instead of an artist. I loved words and books first, but in 4th grade I wrote a poem. The teacher made me stand up in class and read it out loud. I thought I'd die from heart failure. The paper shook so much when I was reading it that I could barely read it.
It wasn't the usual 4th grader's poem. I spoke of my love for the river as if it were a real person whom I loved and who loved me back. The poem was romantic and passionate in ways that 10-year-olds aren't supposed to feel or express. I talked about the animals and the spring flood and everything else that was part of my intensely personal relationship.
The class was silent when I finished. I figured that whatever chances I had of appearing "normal" were finished, when a popular, attractive boy clapped. The rest of the class joined in. I went from despair to surprise to gratitude, and I took that applause in and felt my heart expand and myself begin to change. That boy will never know how much he changed my life. He's in my permanent gratitude column.
You'd think this would've set me on the path of authorship, but there's more to the story. The poem won a state prize and I was forced to rewrite it for the national competition. My teacher, dad, and a sister took turns editing it despite my screams of creative pain. I refused to write anything again that would open me to that kind of pain again.
I used to keep a diary, but another sister, mom, and a boyfriend all violated that sacred space. I quit writing even to myself.
Many years later I told someone about another painful moment in my life. He suggested that I write about it, and to take special attention to capturing every detail of it that I could remember. I told him that I don't write, he pushed, I told him about the diary, and he pointed out that I was living alone and nobody could violate my thoughts on paper.
So I journaled about the poem. It turned into 12 dense pages of painful memories, but the journaling made me start writing again. At first it was just for myself, but now I put my thoughts and feelings on this blog and let everyone see it. The process is freeing. All of those words that I had bottled up inside come bubbling out.
I appreciate all of my blog buddies the same way I appreciate that nice boy in 4th grade. I see him once in a very long while. I'm pretty sure he's long forgotten this moment in time, but he has a kindness that I hope has been rewarded. He helped me find my voice.