Sunday, November 16, 2014

Her Blankets Are Always Clean

Day Seven, 2014

There is a clarity that reveals itself when I am alone for an extended period of time. It's like shaking the sand out of a blanket after a day at the beach, so all that is left is the blanket itself.

I recently saw Marilynne Robinson interviewed. She spoke of editing and how she had little need for it. She rarely changes what she writes. She nails it on her first pass. I knew in that moment that my process had nothing in common with hers. Her blankets are always clean. And I don't think this is something that might change for me after years of practice. It's not just my writing, it's my entire life, unlike Marilynne Robinson, I never begin clean. All of my starts are covered in sand.
It's taken me ten days of being alone to remember what clarity feels like. My decisions are less hurried. Priorities seem to sort themselves. Nothing important is missed.

This was what it was like when I lived alone. I never understood why my boyfriend at the time had to keep such a tight to-do list (or why he was so specific about the way each piece of his clothing should be folded). I felt what needed to get done got done. It happened naturally. Why fret? Why feel that weight of the dreaded list? He lived alone too. Apparently, we were very different.

I've found living together often means carrying around a sandy blanket. I get distracted by the presence of another. Some of those distractions are pesky, but most are good distractions that add layers to my life. I see and do things I might have otherwise missed. It's messier, but my life gains dimension.

But this does not mean I should forgo the one solo trip I take each year. Every year I get attached to the way things are. I think, I don't really need to go anywhere by myself. I spend enough time alone writing. But I'm wrong and I'm thankful to share my life with someone who cares about what's best for me and tells me to go off on my own and uncover that true self, who isn't really so far away, and bring her back home.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Alone on the Beach

Earthwork, 2014

Last night, deep into twilight, I was walking along the shoreline. It was very near dark and I thought of how I always tell Chris that I don't like walking over sand in the dark, how holes could get camouflaged and lead to twisted ankles, or worse. As I looked down, unable to see much of the sand or the steps I was taking, I realized I am less careful when I'm alone.