Saturday, June 23, 2018

Letters from Marilyn - Update 25

Do you ever wish you could freeze time? Just to hold onto a moment for a little longer?

I have been re-reading M's letters, trying to find the words to launch her story. I have written middle chapters and end chapters, but no beginning chapters. When I place the cursor at the very start of that first page, I find myself staring at it, watching its pulsing and blinking like the ticking of a metronome. It feels like the cursor is waiting for me. Waiting for me to give it letters to form words, and words to form sentences.

Beginnings are the hardest. In writing, in starting over, in taking a step forward into an uncertain future. It is hard to change beginnings, after all. You can alter your path, change your steps, erase your words, create a different ending. But that first moment, it can never be taken back. And since my last post, I have felt without words, stuck staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page.

I have had this mental block for months. I have spent hours, days, weeks pondering how to find the words to lift the fog. I have been on countless drives to nowhere, hoping that the clear roads and skies would somehow clear my mind. I have read dozens of books, believing that immersing myself in a story would perhaps spark ideas for Marilyn's.

But interestingly, it is not others' stories that have kick-started M's beginning, but rather my own. I pulled my notebooks from storage a few weeks ago, choosing to reread what I had written as a young girl, then teenager, college student, and now adult. Focusing on my day-to-day life, some entries are silly, others thoughtful, several with a bitter sorrow and regret, but many with moments I had found to be most important, a milestone in my growth as a person. And I wondered:

Do you ever wish you could freeze time? Just to hold onto a moment for a little longer?

To illustrate this question with my mental connection to M's beginning, I want to share one of these moments. In July of 2006, I was on a trip with a group of young people and adults from my community. For those of you following my timeline, I was seventeen years old. Our final destination was San Antonio, TX. We had traveled to the South Padre Islands for some initial work prior to our time in San Antonio, and were now making our way back north. Our original arrangements for the evening had fallen through, and after a majority vote, we made the decision to stay overnight in Corpus Christi. Tucked into a bay of the Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi was an ideal location to rest before making the next stretch of our journey.

It was a breezy evening, unusual for a July night in Texas. The dusky twilight was on the horizon and we were exhausted, but we chose to wander down to the outdoor pool of our lodgings. The cerulean blue of the water was enticing, but then we discovered something else: the arched opening that led directly out to the beach. We could hear the ocean waves so close, and pretty soon we were laughing and racing each other to the shoreline, our exhaustion forgotten. One of the chaperones in our group had also joined us, acoustic guitar in hand, and soon our full group was assembled on the beach, as if we had summoned each other by thought. 

The stars were blazing in the indigo sky (it's true what they say about the stars in Texas!), and as we sat there in the fine white sand, the ocean stretching out before us, singing songs together, I wanted that moment to never end. I felt free. 

I had written about this moment, wishing I could freeze time, to make it last just a little bit longer. But, of course, life is a series of moments that flash by in a blur. In some ways, that moment is preserved in my notebook, a memory of a time that to me, felt perfect. 

To this day, I cannot pinpoint the exact reason why this moment was so pivotal to me. Perhaps it is because it held many of the things I value: the outdoors, wide open skies, music, and a group of people who had taken me in as one of their own. And as I re-read more notebook entries and more moments, I discovered a common theme for me: oftentimes the moments that have the most meaning are also the ones that are unplanned.  

The more I pored over my old, dusty notebooks, the more a beginning for Marilyn began to take shape in my mind. And so just as I did with my own stories, I went back to re-read hers. But this time, I have recorded her moments, weaving them together to launch a beginning that is her. One that is reflective of her bright soul and vivacious personality. I am reading her moments that she describes so vividly - and I know that in my writer heart, these are the moments she wished she could freeze in time. 

Creating her beginning is going to take a while. I have written in a frenzy today, with new chapters saved and this update getting posted well beyond a twilight dusk. As you go about your weekend, dear readers, I encourage you to consider these questions: do you ever wish you could freeze time? Just to hold onto a moment for a little longer?

Love always.

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