Most writers I know crave a space of their own where they can think, doodle, and hopefully-write. I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to retreat-type spaces that given more time, space and money I would create and use to nurture my soul and encourage my craft. I imagine a life where there are outlets on every wall, and at least four places to sit or lounge, so one could read or rest or write.
It will be a quiet space, except for the sound of rain on the roof, which will never be louder than inspirational patter. It will be cozy, with natural light, and bold colors, or not, and blue walls, or yellow, or white-washed old pine. There will be alfresco dining and writing, and the sounds of birds or perhaps the city. It will be a beautiful space that is just barely big enough to invite someone else in, with room for everyone on the patio. It will be glorious.
Or, what really happened, after years of quaint cafes in Berkeley and surrounding environs, museum spaces in San Francisco, then later, my dining room table... I find myself, in a Starbucks cafe inside of a Target.
I thought it would go the other way, that the more I called myself a writer, the more likely my environment would look like a writer's life was supposed to look. I only started saying I was a writer when my daughter introduced me as one to her kindergarten teacher. It gave me the legitimacy that I had been waiting for, so I am going with it, but what about my retreat? Where is my awesome chair and the corner couch?
Is it a fall from grace, or me recognizing that I do not need as many props as I used to? The coffee is hot, and the wi-fi is free. I'll take it.
In college I wore the uniform, black, and black. I had journals and fancy pens. I carried a leather mail bag that was so heavy it makes carrying a sleeping child seem like a breeze. I brooded appropriately. I drank black coffee.
I looked over some of my writing just yesterday and was pleased to see that not all of it was drivel, but some of the events that weighed down my being, while not frivolous, were certainly not the forever heartbreak I thought they'd be. I didn't even know what I didn't know.
Some of what I read triggered nostalgia, remembering the carefree time spent out dancing with friends until the bar closed, and smoking on rooftops with no railings, three stories up, in the fog of the Marina. Some of it triggered the feelings of lonely I had, even as I was surrounded by people who cared about me.
I was thrilled to find pieces of my husband, as background, then more, as we went from friends to marriage. I laughed at a crush or two I had forgotten.
I missed my little apartment with the tiny room that was barely attached to the house on Dana Street. I missed my friends who have scattered around the globe, and my little vase I filled with flowers every Friday as a treat to myself.
I missed writing every single night, aware that anything I forgot to put to paper would be lost to time. I wrote with passion, about passion. I wrote about the mundane, and the dramatic, and there was poetry, and lists of character names. I wrote, and wrote and wrote.
The time I am in is always the best one when I look back. Even if it was ugly, it was the best because I survived or endured something and came out the other side. And of course there are all the moments that enlightened and surprised me, those were the best too.
But I just know these are the best of times, with happy, healthy children and husband, and our great friends, and lovely adventures. I need to take care to remember these days.
So this wobbly Big-Box store cafe table will suffice. I don't need a specific space in which to write--I just need to make
more space in my head so the words can attach to each other in
meaningful ways, and then I need to write them out. I don't want to lose this section of our jumbled, messy, lovely,
happy, frantic life over a throw pillow and a tin roof.