Wednesday, March 26, 2014
When Coloring Books Became Journals
I remember this feeling from other times in my life. It is the urgency within me to write. I remember the first time I wrote for something other than imaginary play or school. My siblings and I were pretty creative growing up. We would start our own newspapers, "The Anderson Press" and deliver handmade copies to each room in the house. I had a Lisa Frank satchel bag that I loved. It was pink and purple and opened just like Charlie's from Willy Wonka when he delivered papers. We always used the Lisa Frank bag when delivering papers. We also put on plays with our cousins. I was always Jo from Little Women. Even if we were not playing Little Women, I was still Jo in my mind. I was always Jo. I would be in charge of writing the plays, and as the oldest I would boss around the younger ones to try not to mess anything up. But one time, probably around 5th grade, I remember writing for a different reason. I think it was in a coloring book that I had gotten from some sort of health program. I can't remember if it was asking questions to fill in or not, but I just remember all of the sudden all these words coming out from my little hand. I was writing so quickly with a red crayon. I remember the exact experience I wrote about. My parents were in the midst of a divorce and my dad's brother had gotten angry at my mom when she dropped my dad's belongs off at my Meme's house. All of us kids were in the van watching. I guess thats when my coloring books became journals.
From that point on I always had some little journal that I hid under my mattress. The turning point of my writing though, the one that took my journals from little short pieces of my day and prayers to raw memoir, was when my friend was murdered my freshman year of high school. My mom came home one day with a burlap covered, leather bound journal with handmade paper. There were probably 200 pages inside. My mom wrote a touching letter on the front page, telling me she hoped I didn't mind she used the first page. Then I took the journal and went to my room, and for the next several hours I wrote out the haunting story I had just lived through. My Sunday School teacher helped me punch holes in those pages and tie them shut with ribbon. No one wanted to have to read through those things every day, not even me. I continued to write often in that journal, and in a grieving fashion I started taping pictures of all my friends inside. I told my friends that because I was almost sixteen, I was going to give this journal to my daughter when she was sixteen. My best friends wrote letters to my one day daughter. Claiming that this future sixteen year old would have the world's coolest mom. I hope Blanche knows they are right.
My journals continued through all of high school and college. They fill a plastic tub. In our old bedroom in Arkansas, there is a picture here, Andrew had me display my journals on a bookshelf. He hoped I could sort through them and that they would help me find my writing voice. A few times Andrew told me not to read through them when he wasn't home. It may have been his way of protecting me.
I was in a creative writing class my senior year of high school. Looking back now my best work was always when I was being real. I often tried to shove religion into my stories and poetry, but then there were moments when I would write "just for fun" and that is when my writing would come alive. I would write about the things I didn't want anyone to really know about. I would have my teacher read them during lunch. Maybe at the time I was not sure how to write about something I was in midst of going through. I wrote about my parents divorce, not being able to trust adults, and how alone I really felt.
I would often sit down at the computer or on my bed after school and the stories would come pouring out. I am finding myself coming to that point again. I have noticed my posts are become more frequent. Sometimes I think through the day about what I want to write and eagerly await nap time.
So much of my days are filled with the smiles of these two girls above. I often write as to not forget these fleeting times with such small children. I like to focus on the happy and try to take beautiful pictures of them. There are days though, when I do not want to forget the past. Not to live in the past, but because the past has made me who I am today. Each person in this life has a past and a family. They have memories and thoughts on life. We are not just people living and making choices for no reason.
Life as a mother of two very small children gives me the chance to love to the point of exhaustion every day. I have little hands all over me. Spit up and pee. I got the girls to sleep in this morning, but it wasn't without nursing both of them. I was up at five am nursing both a newborn and a toddler, wondering if I am doing things wrong. The tired creeps up on me and irritation comes out of my mouth at my toddler. I don't know if she is getting teeth or jealous of her sister, but we are sliding backwards in the weaning. Once we all roll out of bed together at nine thirty, we have missed our playdate and one girl is covered in urine and the other in spit up. I get to work changing diapers and pajamas. Only to put them both in clean pajamas. I figure we won't leave the house today. I make coffee and try to focus on the good and expected things. Like Blanche being content to watch her show and eat her granola while I drink coffee and nurse the baby. The fears of how I am alone while Andrew works today and how I really have made few friends in this big city start to fade, and we all start to smile a bit. I think about how lucky I am and that today is just today. I only have today to worry about and today to get through. I enjoy Blanche "helping" with the dishes and taking a picture of her. I make lunch and nurse again. I wear Rosemary while I eat, and then we all nurse again. And then it is nap time, and I write down my stories. Now both are awake. Rosemary is done nursing again and on my lap. I am sweaty, and my shirt has milk on it. Blanche is up with messy hair. Roaring down the hallway and shouting, "Anybody there?" I continue to type as they both become restless and Blanche dances around me in "big shoes" which are Andrew's old work shoes. Speaking of work he should be off now. Hopefully picking up a few things and heading home to us.