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.)

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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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Man-Made

I don’t know
How this is where I came to be.
They said, “Stay away,” and now this is where I’ll linger.

I came, searching, because you would not show me plainly.
I came, hardly aware, of how bright the sky could be,
Of how solid death could be,
Of how dim and weak my life has been.

They said, “Don’t! Because…what if?” And now the what-if’s are all I see;
They’re shroud in gold, and freedom, and peace.
All the what-ifs I was made to fear
Now walk besides me hand-in-hand
Afraid of me.

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Let’s Go Free

I thrust out my hand,
Hold it over a flame.
You scoff,
As though it were a bad thing
To prefer fire
Over numbing ice.

I walk forward
Into an unknown,
Braving for once
To take a chance.
You smirk,
As though maturity meant
Being willing to stay
So unsatisfied.

I come to the shore,
Fling away my clothes,
And walk unhindered into the waving waves.

I delve into the water,
For once fully alive:
Light entwined with darkness,
Life a play thing with death.
You sit dry on the shore
And wonder at my wanting to be cleansed of your
Dirt.

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To the Bottom

 

She went to the bottom because she thought that was the only place to go.

She had climbed to the top and had found sky and wind and light. She had enjoyed it there, with the freshness and expanse and things laid bare. She had lived that top fully and for years had been happy in it.

Then something had changed. The wind had stopped blowing. The clouds had come in low to crowd her space. The air blurred and cast everything in shadows. The top had thrilled and filled her until it didn’t. So now she needed something more. Now she’d look for earth and stillness. Now she’d look for unobscured clarity.

So she went to the bottom.

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