Sunday, July 10, 2005

 

staring-out-the-window time

I've been home from Sitka for a week, but it took me until today to just rest. I’m lucky enough to know dozens of people in Seattle, good, funny people who care about me. And they all wanted to see me this week. So I said yes, because I really didn’t see most of them during the spring, when I lay on the couch, gripped in pain and wondering if I would ever feel well. So I had lunches and teas and swimming sessions and walks around Greenlake, two and three a day. And I’m exhausted. As much as I love everyone I saw, it took me until today to realize that, by not giving myself time to write, I’m not doing what I love. So I feel disappointed in myself. I feel like my life is out of balance.

Writing, feeling centered, and doing creative work I love requires lots and lots of down time. Lots of staring-out-the-window time. More hours alone than with people in restaurants, actually. Solitude. And it helps if the house is clean, on top of it.

So today, I spent the morning with Jessica (Jessica from camp) in my pajamas. She’s always right there, and we can just be silent. She came over early and lounged in my cluttered living room. I made us poached eggs over sauteed spinach and a pot of strong coffee. We talked and referred to articles in the Sunday New York Times, which was strewn across the floor. I showed her pictures from camp. We looked over Beatles albums, deciding the songs to put on a mix cd I’m making for her husband. (Somehow, he grew up without knowing the Beatles?!) And then we wandered to the Ballard Farmers' Market. This is one of the wonders of Seattle--the weekly farmers’ markets. Nearly every neighborhood in Seattle has one running, from May to October. On Sundays, several streets in Ballard are blocked off to traffic. White flags wave in the breezes. People stroll with dogs and kids, everybody smiling. And there are thirty or forty booths, filled with fresh rasberries, spicy arugula, golden beets, and goat cheeses. Hippie-looking women sell hand-crafted candles and pink sandstone jewelry. And there are hot crepes, pizza slices from brick ovens, and sauteed Asian vegetables. Men with long hair talk philosophically with their short-haired girlfriends. And everyone looks like they live in Seattle: little makeup, fresh-scrubbed faces, wide-open glances, dressed in environmentally friendly clothes, and kind. Sometimes, a little insufferable with how earnest they are trying to be. But the peaches are so juicy that they drip down my fingers when I eat them. The blueberries burst open. And the bing cherries taste sweeter because I know this is the last week of the year I can have them. I came home with a bag full  of fresh fruit, a handmade blue cheese, and a bouquet of sunflowers. I wish you had been here. You would have loved it.

And then, I spent the rest of the day by myself. At first, I intended to clean the house, immediately. Start writing within fifteen minutes. Have so much accomplished by the end of the day that I would surprise myself. But instead, I lay down on the couch and stared at the ceiling. Drifted from one random task to another, never quite completing anything. Watched some dumb tv. And somehow, within a few hours, I had a solid idea for a new essay, a clear direction to publish an essay that has been with me for years, a new chapter idea for the gluten-free book, and the space between my ears free to start working on my novel again. All it takes is some down time.

I feel like I am back, now. Now that I have been alone all day.

Still miss Sitka, though.

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