This year stole a lot from me.
A promotion and the promise of the types of projects I excel at and the autonomy I crave. Trips with my girlfriends to be loved on and to start banking this decade’s inside jokes. A particularly delicious what if? My physical health. Friendships that feel raw and unsteady, their fissures unseen before now and unfelt before this moment. My security. My time. My mind.
But nothing feels quite so painful as having lost my words.
I’d been arrogant, maybe. Thinking years of undisciplined creation- of only writing when the mood struck and later, at the nebulous moment “when I had time”- would never catch up with me. And like everything I’ve lost, I didn’t know to reach for it until just after it’d slipped over the cliff.
It always begin with the first sentence or the last. If the first, I’d write away from it, striking out from its shores, letting the words flow and navigating their waves to wherever they might lead me. If the last sentence arrived first, I’d write to it, hurtling through twists and turns and racing to its door. The words marched in undaunted. All they needed was a spark. And I’d channel them from the ether, my mind painting the picture and my fingers flying across the keys, barely looking at the screen, my eyes closed lightly, letting the words happen to me. I’d write and write and write until the words stopped and I knew it was the end. And every time- every. Single. Time.- the words there were enough. A typo would need fixing here, a too often repeated word substituted, maybe a slight tweak in the cadence. But always when the words came, they came as they should, ordered as they need be, not too many and hardly ever too few. Exact. Complete. Whole.
They’re gone now.
I’m surprised at the way I miss them as I would a lover. That I spend so much time yearning for them. Missing the way they felt under my skin, returning to the memories they’ve left behind like they belong to someone who left me.
I miss who I was when I was writing.
But they’re gone. And neither the mourning nor the longing seem to bring them back. Like so many things this year stole from me, letting go seems to be the only way to get through. But just like everyone else I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with, I don’t know what forward looks like without them.