One Year

A year ago today, the view outside my window was a mess of green: loose branches on unkempt trees and tall brown/green shrubs filling the plot of land between my house and one of the main boulevards of Guatemala City.

Today the view outside my window is a mess of a different kind: the cluster of downtown Chicago skyscrapers with the Hancock Tower peering above the others; a curving Lake Shore Drive that is never free of cars; a small harbor; and the vast blue of Lake Michigan.

A year ago today, I was listening to Brandon Flowers’ The Desired Effect, which had just come out in May. Its generally happy, earnest sound was the perfect accompaniment and source of inspiration for my own earnest, daring-to-be-hopeful start.

A year ago today I launched this blog. It was my “I’m-finally-going-to-do-this” moment of finally taking a step, however small, in the direction of achieving the biggest dream I have, of being a full-time, published author.

As you can read in that first post, I was earnest and hopeful and actually happy. I was full of the initial momentum good change brings. For once I was being brave and trying to do what I really wanted to do. It was wonderful.

Now it’s a year later, and writing for my blog has been wonderful in many ways, and certainly in terms of moving me forward in writing. It’s kept me writing steadily (for the most part) as week by week I am forced to sit down and come up with an arrangement of words that is honest on a personal level but also crafted well enough to be put before the public (that is, if less than 80 subscribers can count as “public”). Writing for my blog has brought me a type of soothing, enjoyment, satisfaction, and motivation that nothing else in my life has brought.

Today as I sit down to write I am listening to Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, which just came out in May. Its generally subtle, pensive, sensitive sound is the perfect accompaniment for my own pensive and emotionally-weighted reflections. Even though this last year has been the best year in writing for me since I started writing when I was 15, I’m not as earnestly hopeful as I was last year. I still want to be writer, more than almost anything else, but that initial momentum is gone. The optimism of starting something new and exciting has faded. I went for almost a full year making at least one post a week, until the last two weeks when I simply…just…didn’t. I could have. I had plenty of time to. I thought about it. But I let the thought come and go, just like the days, and now it’s been 20 days since I’ve sat down to write.

Yet, I’m OK with this shift. I’m OK with starting another year of writing less optimistic and less giddy about the whole thing. Because what I started in earnesty and determination a year ago is still real and at the forefront, even if it’s no longer shiny and new. I had momentum and not-like-Liza discipline for a year. Now comes the hard part, the more realistic part, of continuing what I want even when motivation isn’t flowing on its own and the discipline fairy dust has settled. I still want to be a full-time, published writer, and it’s certainly going to take more than a blog post per week to accomplish that. So, momentum or no, here I go.

(P.S. Since it’s been a year since they were published, my “about” pages needed refreshing. You can check out the new versions here and here.)

Countless

There were countless reasons for her not to step over the threshold. She had been born into this home, and her love for it was one of her oldest, and greatest, memories.

She had been brought to life in this home. She had been close to her family and had created friends in it. She had found love in this house and had seen love go away.

She was familiar with all of its rooms, its hidden corners, the scariest part of its dark, cold basement. She had been to its highest turret, and had crawled up to the highest point of its roof to see the vast sky unobstructed.

During all her days and all her nights, she had dwelt inside this home. She living in this house had been her truest definition of herself. This house was all she had known.

Yet she stood at its threshold now, looking away from it. The house had not changed and the people in it remained. Her room in the house was still reserved for her, and it still brought her comfort. She still liked the ways of the house, the way the floors creaked and the way the windows let in the midnight moon.

There were countless reasons for her to close the door and stay. There were countless reasons and her entire life so far.

But here she was at the doorway looking out. This behind her had been her world, but this before her was the world.

She could stay inside and be safe and keep living her life in the way she loved. She could stay with her family and her friends, stay in familiarity and in warmth. She could stay and be well.

There were countless reasons to stay, but now here was one reason to leave:

What if all the world out there would love her more than she loved this home?

 

In response to The Daily Post’s prompt Countless.

Alive at the Water’s Edge

The water was crystal blue. Small waves rippled and came in slowly, elegant and carefree. White birds flew overhead, mostly in silence. White sails glided by. The blue of the sky came down to meet the blue of the water at a hazy horizon. Light, water, and air swirled and gleamed and wafted purity to shore.

She stepped out of her way and came to the water. She passed the people running, walking, talking on their phones. She passed the couples and the clusters of teens on the cement stairs. She came reverently to the swaying blue and white. She came ready.

She came to the water and sat before it. She looked out to the blue, and then down to its very edge, down to where the duck crap pooled and the color was slightly green. Just beneath the dirty water she could make out large slabs of rock and concrete whose bottoms faded away into the dark deep. She felt a jab of fear but kept looking down. This was the water she had come for.

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Into the Light

She walked out of the cave confidently. Her dress was torn and dirty, almost as dirty as her hair and her face. Her bones were prominent under her skin. The skin on her feet was calloused. But she walked regally, in the filth and wear and wasted away, out from the darkness and into the light.

She walked out, head held high. It had been days, months, years. All that time hiding, away from light, away from the others, away from the ones who had known her by name. The darkness had been full and deep and everywhere. Everywhere she turned in those days and months and years it had been darkness all around, sinking into the walls, sinking into the sky, sinking into her skin. Darkness that followed, that dwelt, darkness that was the only one who spoke her name. For days and months and years it had been nothing but darkness.

But now the days and months and years were up. They had had their say, and God knows they had had their way. But their time was up. Their say had been heard, and it had been answered. The darkness that permeated would stay and permeate and sink, but not into the space in which she would now live.

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The Fog (Part 1)

The fog was going away.

It had started to come in almost from the beginning;
She could not remember now a time when it was not coming in.
It had come in under clouds, under the sun, under star-less and star-filled skies.

Over the water that matched the sky in its vastness,
Creeping, rolling, floating, streaming forward
The fog had come in

To the shore filled with rocks and sand,
To the sparse grass,
To the tall trees that were now the only ones that had lived in clear air.

The fog had come in from no one knew where
Blowing into the roads,
Swirling around lamp posts,
Making dogs howl
And children cry.

The fog had come in,
Had crawled up the walls,
Had entered through open windows and through cracks under locked doors.

The fog had come
And it had found her.

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Siren

She was young, but she should have known better. The days had been bright and hot, but tonight was cool. The sky was starless.

She waited until her family was asleep and then carefully went down stairs and out the door, pen and notebook, Bible, and discman in hand. Now it was just her and the night.

She was young, but not too young not to know.

The darkness was coming in. If she had had eyes to see, she would have seen it swirling slowly to her, like a haze drifting forward over the ocean. The darkness – the depth – was coming.

She was happy with her music and words she believed were true. She was happy writing worlds that no one else could see. Her eyes were nearsighted but sparkling. She was safe in all she did not know.

But she should have known.

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Dead Devotion

It was summer and she was hopeful. They had been out by the water all day and had gone in for a rest. Now they were clean and dry, except for her damp hair that blew wildly out the open window.

The city lights were nearing, speeding quickly on as they drove up and under and around the tangled highway. She could feel the energy of the city spill out to meet the energy increasing in her. The air and lights and cement and radio were churning and pulsing, matching the beat of her mind. She smiled and turned to look at his steady, un-churning face. This is what she had come here for.

They entered the city and crossed straight through it to reach the water once again. This was not the well-kept beach where they had spent the bright, carefree day amongst the usual summer crowd. Here the water met rocks and then cement. Here there were no crowds and every dim street light cast shadows. She was still carefree, but his clenched jaw and fists told her that he was not. She had made her choice and was now free to live in it. Here was where it was his turn to make his. She was hopeful.

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