Long time, no see.
I feel compelled to explain my long pause since I last posted a piece here, though one writing friend said I didn’t have to. (Actually, what she said was, “No one cares.” I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean it as harshly as it sounded.)
My collection of excuses: I started a new job with a steep learning curve and heavy emotional weight at the beginning of the year. Sure, it is only three days a week, and the other days were supposed to be for my writing, but I underestimated how much I would need those days to rest and recover. I underestimated how good I am at coming up with a million things to do before getting to the page.
And on the days I did get to the page, I had other writing priorities: letters to my children about their high school and college graduations, to my parents on their eightieth birthdays, and to my husband for our quarter-century anniversary.
I needed to write small, intimate.
And I needed to work on anything other than my memoir, which I had finished before deciding it was not what I knew it could be, and I didn’t know how to make it work. I set it down in February to let it breathe.
I was getting ready to dive back into it in October, when Hamas attacked Israelis and despair spiked and my mind circled over all the horrors, trying to process so much hate and fear and sadness bound up together. (Not that there wasn’t global despair before. The world’s pain keeps changing the subject.) Who could write?
When I was young, I could write in my journal to discover how I felt about things, to make sense of my feelings. I was nimble at talking to myself on the page. I still turn to words hoping for clarity, but they are not giving me my truth lately.
What do I have to dig through to get there again?
In my garden this morning, the dirt was hard and tight. I bought solar lights some months ago, flat disks to place along the path to my front door to make it safer for my parents when they came at night. I thought it would be a simple matter of sticking the little plastic stands into soil, but the ground was unyielding. The stands kept breaking when I tried to force them in. I went looking for a trowel or some digging tool, and found garden shears rusting on an old deck chair, whose wooden arms are grooved by rain and wind and sun and time. I hauled the shears to the front with me and used their pointy tip to stab at the spots that needed softening. An off-brand use, but it did the trick.
Clots of hard dirt came out, enough for me to break them apart with my fingers and then push the plastic bases into the ground. Ten times I did this, finding the yielding spaces close enough to where they ought to go, close enough to good enough.
The sun worked on their solar receptors while I went about my day — hanging up clothes I left on the window seat, wiping counters, feeding dogs, feeding myself, forgetting my best ideas and plans. The sun set and the sky went dark, and the lights glowed where I planted them, almost enough to see by.
Laura Nicole Diamond is the award-winning author of Shelter Us: a novel, and Dance with Me: a love letter and editor of the anthology Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. She is working on a memoir about becoming a foster mom to a teenage asylum-seeker from Guatemala. For more, go to LauraNicoleDiamond.com, Facebook and Instagram. (Bye, Twitter!)
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