Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Not Getting Along

I continue trying to pin my concentration, and the quilting I've been doing lately definitely helps. However, it is rare that I get an hour like this, sans homework, sans high school projects, sans melodrama that every adolescent is heir to, and I know I must work on my unfinished stories.

But here is the thing: I have lost control over them. They seem have acquired a consciousness of their own and often, I hear them snickering at me from beneath my closed laptop; I hear them murmuring, plotting, bickering with each other, calling out to each other, completely ignoring me. They wake me up with their constant cacophony and I can hear them singing each to each; they will not sing to me!

Like my daughter, they too have outgrown a need for me. But like my daughter, I haven't outgrown them. My everyday life is spiced up with my fictional characters' responses. I recognize spaces the stories unfold in. As I teach my fiction students the joys of flirting with perspective, my stories change tunes, voices, selves behind my eyes.

I disapprove of their brazen conduct, their lack of decorum. They remind me of the daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, mother-in-law triads of Hindi soap operas, those family sagas for which I have a fascinated disgust, like Milton's for Satan.

After all, I am constructing these stories (confound it, I still think of them as mine!), and how do they represent me to the larger world? Whatever will everyone think? Is THIS what I brought up and nurtured? Don't they realise the immense responsibility I shoulder in acknowledging them?

The really frightening thing is, what if I am the kind of writer they say I am? Someone very, very much unlike the kind I had always thought myself to be?

So I refuse to let them out.

Jealously, I keep them atop towers with no doors and have snipped off their long hair.

I am still looking for a way to quiet them, though.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Flashes upon that Inward Eye

One would think that seeing beautiful places would strengthen the wavering needles of one's internal compass, reaffirm faith in the undying spirit that resists immunity to appreciation of the beautiful. However, I have been unable to reconcile my inner realities to the outer landscape that demands my attention with the insistence and privilege that comes from belonging and owning.

I just returned from Italy a few weeks ago and still cannot stop sighing over the places that turned out to be not dead cliches of images of exotic, improbable, far off places, but real locales, throbbing, teeming, vivacious.

I remembered to touch the stones wherever I went, trailed my fingers along the casual buildings across the street from the Vatican, laid my forehead on the walls of museums, tried to lock in the sensation of my hand resting on a parapet in Assisi, used a rock from a Mediterranean beach as a worry-stone, picked up and kept a brick-fragment from Pompeii. But every passing minute inexorably marched on, slamming into me the awareness of its passing. I tried to inhabit each one with my entire being, tried to inhale it, drink it in, possess it with every molecule, but being mortal, I have been left behind.

Of course, like any insanely infatuated tourist, I do have thousands of pictures, so as the year dwindles beneath routines, chores, and the business of carrying on, I have the option of reminding myself of a wonderful time.

I have had to treat myself repeatedly, have needed friends more than ever, all to remind me that even on that wonderful trip, I missed home, that I longed for my own bed, that I was more often than not tired of living out of suitcases that couldn't be unpacked since we rarely spent more than a couple of nights in one place.

So yes, I am glad to be back and this entry is one of my many attempts at bringing all of myself back here, on this desk.

I've always thought of my internal landscape as a hive of honeycomb-like structure, not an organized land-water-horizon realm. I find now, I have a few more chambers; I hope that these have strengthened the over-all structure, helped me understand hidden facets of who I am, and equipped me to hold more.

These hold fragments that I have no photographs of, an exotic far-off land in me, woven in the fabric of who I am, indelible, pure, true.

Tomorrow, when I look at my mirror to brush my teeth, I shall not forget to savor the sunlight spilled on cobbled streets of Florence, a golden afternoon, and smile because the day shall be good.