Some night a few weeks ago, I was standing in the office of the restaurant where I work, waiting to be cut. It was Saturday. The bar down the street was missing a person.
Two months earlier I had shared this office as Administrative Manager, a position I was offered because the boss appreciated my "problem solving skills" but a position I was terribly unqualified for given my experience as a writing student, my terrible indifference for all duties related to administrative managing, and my only reason for working in a restaurant being that I need to pay off my degree. Plus I make better tips as a waitress/bartender than I do as a stay-at-home daughter who writes poems. So, as soon as I landed a few more freelance writing jobs, I stepped down as Administrative Manager and went back to relishing in the low accountability of waitress/bartender.
Looking around the office that night, I noticed a small black frame on the Marketing Assistant's desk. Behind the glass was a piece of notebook paper with black handwriting. Dated almost two months back. The handwriting was scratchy and careless. I read it once. Thought I had read it somewhere before with the first line. By the second line I felt an eerie familiarity with the words, a mirror to my own spilled blood. This was my handwriting, my notebook paper, my scrawl of a thought that I remember being inspired by a lonely hike at the lake. I asked the manager where it came from - she didn't know.
Later, I found out that the Marketing Assistant had come across a strange notebook left on his desk. He said he read the page and immediately stood up from his chair - that it hit him in the feelings that hard. He showed it to the Marketing and Events Coordinator, who also felt drawn to it, and now both their desks bare small black frames with my small black words. Small words that are actually incredibly loud and so true they slinky up and down my spine everyday; I just didn't know they could wrap around someone else's.
This was the first time someone other than a family member had framed my writing. It makes sense to say I was honored, but in fact I was humbled. Something miserably honest, unedited, and blood-soaking raw resonated with someone else. As if they could cup my spilled red cells in their hands and say maybe this was once part of my body, or maybe it still is. They saw this bare naked vulnerability and welcomed it, even protected it with glass. This was possibly the first time I had considered that my writing might have the potential of reaching a core other than mine.
That connection, even if just potential, is the reason I write. It always has been.
To make someone feel the sacredness of their heartbeat, or to be the fingers that wrap around their wrist after they have already jumped, the siren that keeps them from jumping. Or to redefine fragility, teach someone that a quarter inch of rain can cause an avalanche but damn it that mountain is still going to stand. Remind someone that we would never treat our mothers the way we treat the earth but we were all birthed from the belly of the same luminous body. To make the heads that say "the news is too depressing" open their eyes to Boko Haram and North Korea, to the fact that slavery, labor camps, and religion-backed rape still exist even though it's not on the same land they are walking. To make them understand that, actually, we are all walking the exact same land, regardless of the miles between our footsteps. Or to be both the butcher and the surgeon: dismembering bodies so as not to forget we are all healed and those whose stitches have dissolved need to tend to those with open wounds. And mostly, to be humble and grateful, balance ferocity and grace.
And nope. I'm nowhere close to achieving that as of right now since, right now, I spend more hours a week fake laughing at people's tired jokes when I know they tip 25% than I spend revising my stuff. Right now it is a Monday and the most productive thing I have accomplished is walking my dog, but in 19 days I will be boarding a flight to JFK to then board a flight to London and then another one to Barcelona. Then, for the next two months as I teach English to high school students and roam through Spain, I will be happily stateless - living in the permanent residency of my own wild veins, the blood they carry drank from wallowing in the unknown. It is the place where my words reside as well. So I go home to write. I go into my own bones to write. From there I hope to branch that potential connection that could potentially make someone think or learn or rebuild. Maybe that is a lot for writing to pull off, but I write for the chance that it is not.