It’s always been about the words. I began writing my thoughts very early on in a diary and then eventually in journals. By my teen years I never went anywhere without my journals. I carried a backpack with all that was precious to me, and that’s where the books safely stayed. Shuffling between two homes meant I needed to keep whatever I could possibly need at any given time on my person. This is where the carrying of a bag came into play. I always had a bag and inside of that bag, my deepest thoughts.
Actually, I still have two of the backpacks I carried through high school. They’re full of those diaries/journals, artwork, some random school awards, and the scraps of a time I don’t recall much of other than what I wrote. (I attribute that to the drugs) But there are plenty of scribbled thoughts jotted down on corners of paper and napkins, and whatever else was used as a medium. I had a gnawing need to keep track of how I felt despite not knowing what was really going on around me. Or inside of me for that matter. Sometimes I’ll take a peek back and try to make sense of the jumbled guts I recorded, but it mostly translates as confusion, anger, and despair. I was hurting.
When I first met my husband at the reckless age of 17, I still carried a backpack stuffed with my writing. I really couldn’t part with it. It was as though it was the sum of me. An explanation maybe. I needed those words to tell the story though it was still unfolding. When he found me in the park days later, I was writing, trying to process the changes of moving from Michigan to Mayberry Arkansas. My world had changed so suddenly and I wasn’t fully convinced I would stay here long. While the life I left up north wasn’t much of a life at all, it was still something I knew. Familiar. Wild. Here, I felt like a foreigner, quickly singled out by the teens at the pool for my vintage 1950’s ruched bathing suit and oversized Jackie O sunglasses. I was pasty white while they glowed golden in their bikinis. And when I spoke they said I sounded different, like I was from New York. They sounded different. And so did my now husband who had such a deep voice and Oklahoma drawl that I could only understand a few words, and then had to use context clues. I spoke so fast, he just nodded out of courtesy not knowing what I had really said. All the O’s here are short while I still say them through my nose. We’ve come a long way but have thoroughly disputed if a pen is a pin, or apricot is long-A apricot, etc.
Suffice to say, I stayed put. And I kept writing. And I read him some of my offerings so as to explain my brain, and he listened. I didn’t know if he really understood until one evening while with others he began to brag on me about my writing. I knew then that he had indeed understood even though we had come from very different places, and were very different people.
Fast-forward through the years and the journals are still here. I have taken several sabbaticals and I have thrown myself headlong into it. My darkest days are the ones I did not write. I used to pour out my aches and longings but when I found it to be too painful for words, the pages remained blank. This only proves to me that I am most alive while scribing. Most aware when recording. Most okay when I let it flow, no matter how poised or disheveled my words.
All this came to mind yesterday after finding a worn leather satchel from a thrift store. It spoke to me (as second-hand items do) and I dished out the $15 to make it mine. It felt like I had secured a safe house for my journals. A place to keep them safely together. If you understood my need for being kept and together you would understand why I was like a little girl racing home to put my books inside first thing. I tucked them in and just looked at them.
“I’ve prepared a place for you.”
An old/new bag. A hippy-girl heart. A beatnik soul. A contemplative spirit. A place to gather, collect and reflect. All I could need at any given moment to make it all come together inside, on my person. My apothecary jars… physician’s bag… mother’s purse… tactical pack… all right here.
One thought on “a bag of books”
So much to love right there. That bag…dreamy!