"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: clearing

dumpster . . .

It’s finally here.  G. rented a dumpster to haul away piano wreckage and stuff from the barn and cellar. It’s sitting in the driveway now off the street and I look at its cavernous insides with visions of clean closets floating in my head. We have until next Thursday to fill it up. I plan to go through all the closets and the crawl spaces behind them to clear things out. We’ll be able to move out without having to move away!

Yesterday, I returned from a week away on Cape Cod where I took a memoir writing workshop in Truro at Castle Hill. I drove early in the morning to the workshop from a spartan motel in Yarmouth, an hour away. In the afternoons, I returned on one of the major three thruways (Rt. 6, 6A and 28) to orient myself to the towns and neighborhoods of the Cape. That this occurred during the height of the tourist season was high folly, jammed with bumper to bumper traffic once the day got underway. Some weeks earlier, I had contemplated the idea of a second home on the Cape, a romantic notion of a quiet place with the ocean nearby enough to be “near the water.” What I came away with after my memoir sojourn is how fortunate I am to be living here in the Queen Anne Victorian piano place we call home not anywhere even close to water.

home, sweet home . . .

home, sweet home . . .

I was surprised to notice the huge population of workers servicing the Cape and the tourist industry: restaurant workers, motel workers, cleaning staff, workers in the souvenir shops by the side of the road. Hordes of workers in seafood restaurants and seafood shops. There seemed to be more fried seafood places than probably anywhere else on earth, and for sure in the state of Massachusetts.

These workers were a real contrast to some of the people who attended the workshop. Some stayed in Wellfleet and Truro homes, passed down or owned by their families for generations. Cars were parked with New York license plates. Some flew in from California. Everyone was well educated and able to afford spending five mornings and the cost of the class to attend. From my Yarmouth motel to Truro and back again each day, I got to see both worlds everyday.

Part of the reason this post is called “dumpster” is that the experience of the class which required writing memoir, allowed me to finally write about parts of my early childhood that were very painful. I knew objectively that it was painful, all right, but actually writing about it as a creative exercise, to dig down into it allowed me to feel the pain afresh. AND more important, it allowed me to finally get rid of it. I didn’t come away from the workshop wanting to dig even deeper and revise the essay further. I knew right away that it didn’t interest me, feeling like why would I want to do that in the name of what people call “art?” Nope, that kind of suffering for art’s sake is not my idea of art, for one thing. And for another thing, events occurred all week that quickly shuffled out those and other stale feelings once and for all. To say that it was cathartic is an understatement. This kind of pain was a path to feeling better. But I don’t have to keep feeling that pain to keep getting better. I got it. Now, that that slate is so much cleaner, the actual physical part of cleaning up the environs here will be, well, almost a pleasure.

So, after a week of listening to others talking about and actual dumping of old memory, old pain, old grudges, old regrets, old images of ourselves in high school, in college and long afterwards, through marriage, divorce and lost love that was finally gone rather than imagined still to be lurking somewhere in the back of my mind. Seeing things in a truer light by being away by myself with time to process was better than ten years in therapy (although I don’t know what that would be like, not having gone there.)

I don’t think the big dumpster outside in the driveway could figuratively hold as much emotional baggage and leftovers of memory that clogged my sensibility of myself for so long! If I think the physical cleaning out of my closets will be a chore this coming week, let me just say that the mental and emotional cleaning out was much harder. More intractable. And yet, it was quick to dislodge, once it got moving. Quick as a fox jumping over the fence or whatever they say on typewriter test pages to show the font.

So, for me, August is dumpster month! What a great opportunity to start afresh in September when it’s all said and done. Done and over with, that is.

clearing . . .

looking up at the sky . . .

I don’t know about you but I don’t have enough storage space here to create as much order as I would like. Or maybe I just have too much stuff! Sometimes I imagine in my mind’s eye a meadow of sweet grass where a circle is mown in the middle and blankets are spread out so I can lie on them and look at the clouds in the sky, moving along in balloon animal shapes or some such.

In the midst of these ruminations as I sort through books on the shelves are the seeds of ideas to write something cohesive and on its own (in addition to the little essays on this blog.) I have a feeling inside that this inchoate form is still moving around in pieces and when it reaches a critical mass, I will sit down and the whole thing will just come out, similar to the now mythic description of Jack Kerouac typing his manifesto, “On the Road” on a never ending manuscript inserted into his manual typewriter. Where do we pick up these kinds of idealistic fantasies about writing?

On the shelves are writing books: writer memoirs, how-tos, lectures, guides, self-help, whatever. None of them do what’s really needed, which is to motivate me to just sit down and write “it.”

In the meantime, my goal today is to clean out the boxes in the room with the orchid plants on the shelf and to put away the winter bedding on top of the shelves in the bedroom. Mundane accomplishments to be sure, but at least visually noticeable progress, unlike the glacial creative process going on inside myself.