I have grown tired of apologizing for not posting and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of writing it would take me to catch up. So, instead, I am going to tell you a fictionalized account of everything that has happened over the last 3 months or so. So sit back, relax, and enjoy my allegorical adventure.
50,000 words. What a crazy, daunting experience. What was I thinking? Somewhere in the depths of my mind, someone, my conscience, answered me, "because you've done it before." While this is true, never before has I had so much...distraction. So much pressure. Never before had I felt so behind... I had abandoned my first love for another. I could still see their faces--one old and creased with the age, the other fresh and young. They knocked on my door, begging to come in, out of the cold and the rain. But I cast them out. Back into the street. "Come back another day." I heard my low, cruel voice say. I hadn't meant to be cruel. It just wasn't the right time. I was in the midst of a storm! And the frenzy had already begun, like sharks at feeding time, except this time, I was not on the winning team. I fumbled my way through the first few days until desperation set in. And when desperation set in, that's when I began to eye, my mandolin. I loved that instrument. It had been so long since I'd played though. Did I even remember the chords? Could I dreg up my memories of how to tune it? I picked it up and closed my eyes. My fingers found their way among the delicate kitestrings along its neck. Plucked them ever so softly. The veins of its lifeblood. And a song rose inside of me. A story. It didn't flow at first, but I didn't care. All that mattered was the music that came out fo my mandolin. With this music, I would be able to sustain what could become my greatest lifework.
I shut myself in for days,. I had no rest. No sleep. I ate rarely. Candlelight danced across the walls of my small room while my pen danced across the page, never ceasing. Scritch Scritch Scritch. Not the sort of elegance as ballet, more like tap, I would say. But after the initial burst of speed, I began to lose hope. Where was the energy and enthusiasm I'd held onto for the entire venture? Every so often, my glance fell upon the mandolin that started it all. I would pick it up and pluck the strings. For a tiny second, the magic would come back once more. But it was not enough to keep the fire burning. After 23 days, I finally threw my pen at the brick wall before me. "I give up!" I cried. "I can't do it." A deep sense of failure filled the pit in my stomach. I tried to do too much. I realized. It was difficult to forgive myself in that moment. For that wasn't the only thing I gave up on during that time either. My studies, which had previously kept me so enthralled, suddenly became tedious. Life became a massive piece of clockwork. Do this. Do that. Wake up. Go to sleep. Eat. Drink. Sleep. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tickticktickticktick. A constant, mesmerizing pattern that became the drum beat of my life. They were dark days. Dark days indeed.
Winter brought with it, the cold emotions that characterize the landscape during this time of year. Lonely. Empty. Wasted. Tired. An ache that no amount of warmth could relieve, lingered in my bones. Christmas came and went. Cheerfully, but quietly. Friends dropped by throughout the day, with gifts and Christmas greetings. Mama gave me a particularly lovely scarf that she made herself and I immediately wrapped it around my neck with pride. It was a good day, not altogether unlike past Christmases-- spent in good company with great food. And yet, in some ways it didn't feel like Christmas. Perhaps it was the lack of anticipation once the gifts had been opened. Or that none of the food tasted quite like my mama used to make. Or maybe the day just ended too quickly, I do not know. But Christmas came and went and life moved on.
January brought its own heartache and, conversely, sense of renewal. For reasons I cannot explain, I felt a sudden surge of passion for my studies. I was excited to learn again! I was grateful for my education and the bounty of opportunities it seemed to bring with it.. But this was the only sun that shone on my wintery landscape of a life for a while and it was the kind of sunshine that made everything brighter harsher sharper. Like an image that is too much in focus. We got a letter--it is the kind of letter one dreads to receive but half-heartedly expects to hear any day now. My grandfather, who had been poor in health for several years passed away in the southlands. The letter didn't bring the tears one expects to feel in grief, instead, an icy numbness, the way snow fall muffles sound, this iciness muffled pain. I felt nothing. I dared myself not to think about what would never be. Willed my mind to ignore the reality. Don't succumb to the pain. During that time, I became very ill, bedridden for two weeks. It was one of the most miserable times I have faced in many years. Helpless. Hopeless. Hurting. And terribly terribly...bored.
In my feverish dreams, an angel from heaven came down. She whispered encouraging things in my ear and waited beside me. I told the angel everything. I poured out my heart to her, desperate for someone to reach out. There were times when silence fell over the room, but it was the most peaceful silence there is. I used to be somewhat afraid of the silence, always compelled to fill it. But I am learning more and more how to be at peace with it. It has been a wonderful journey of self discovery. The angel stayed with me five days. I was sorry to see her leave, ascending into heaven, but I hold on to the hope that I will see her again someday.
I am well now and everything has been put to rights. Every now and then, my heart still burns with the pain of death. The pain of ending. The pain of closing a final chapter. And I cry out to God, asking Him, "Can you hear this? Can you HEAR this? The sound my heart makes?" I am sure He can, though it does not take away the anguish. But, as the weather warms up, so does my heart until the pain that was there turns into only a memory. Everything will be better once the snow fully melts and when the sun shines, the world will no longer seem so sharp and overly in focus. But rather, it will appear blissfully perfect and this dark time will only be remembered with a very small sigh.
To Be Continued...
I hope you have seen the threads of my life intermixed with imaginary settings throughout this story: among them, my experience with NaNoWriMo, my flagging motivation toward academics that I hit this winter, Grandpa Terry's passing, a wicked sinus and throat infection, and some quality time with a good friend. Times have certainly been tough, but I am learning to be grateful and see the beauty on the other side. More to come.