Moisture hangs in the air. Storm clouds gather, then rain comes. It comes in torrents. Thunder rolls across the sky. Lightning illuminates the torn edges of clouds. The roads wash out. Again, and again. The hedges and blackberry bramble ditches are swollen. The woods are drenched. Everyone’s lawns are muddy beyond saturation. Each day the temperature climbs, then rain falls. Rinse. Repeat. It’s not the summer any of us were imagining really. Not the summer I imagined anyway as the last in this house: the garden beds flat squares of mud; the ground never dry enough to even plant tomatoes.
But there it is: expectations will always do you wrong.
We let our hair curl. We let the rain water fill the blue plastic pool, and then, when it’s warmed by the sun, we jump in, overcast or not, jumping until the water splashes our bare knees and shorts and arms. Wet, wetter. And when the sun does come, it’s like euphoria. Everything feels like neon. Brighter than bright. Truer than true, and when the clouds gather again, we keep our eyes trained on the places where the clouds snag; for torn corners of blue beyond the gray.
The car-load of moving boxes I picked up at a friend’s house are pliant and damp. Laundry comes out of the dryer, and waits to be folded on the couch, a snarl of cotton absorbing moisture from the air. And we try to go on about our lives, planning for what will happen next: for when the sun will come out again, and we live closer to town and pools and fresh bagels and friends. I can’t help but feeling at loose ends. Out of habit, out of practice. I’ve spent the past week cutting back, narrowing in, refocusing on self care. Nearly perpetual headaches and digestive distress finally caught up with me, as has all the radical change that is eminent, here, happening, about to happen.
My friend Willow said: “So many things have happened in the past six months, and think how little you’ve written. You have to write to catch up with yourself.”
She knows me well.
And I’ve spent enough time watching my creative cycles--to know that I’m in a vital germination phase right now. There are big, awesome things that I’m working towards, but it’s the kind of slow work that happens below the surface where you can’t see it or really describe what’s going on, and yet it takes a tremendous amount of effort. There were other points in my life where I’m quite sure that this was happening too--and I can look back and see the outcome, and see how obvious that unseen growing time was--and I can remember feeling devastated by the apparent lack of clarity. The blurry edges. The slow motion effort, with no outward evidence of anything at all to show for all the struggle. But I know this now: everything big starts unseen, and with great effort. All I must do now is write, and write, and write.
Tell me: how do you begin things? What’s your process like at the very beginning of something new?