Lines Written with a Slate Pencil

Things, life, have certainly gotten in the way of the words this winter, this semester. More so than any other season I can remember in the recent past. These things and life are not much different in the literal sense, but for some reason, I’ve spent these last few months unable to fully – no, even partially – surface. Most unpleasant, the sensation of constant breathlessness. Maybe I can convince myself of the possibility that words themselves hibernate, enter into a period of seasonal dormancy. One that only now they begin to emerge from. Still, it’s impossible to think that I will return to any of the almost-dozen or so begun-but-never-finished entries spread out over the last four months. So I delete them all, swiftly and before I get too attached to their intended meaning. Starting over, the clichéd clean slate, one that corresponds perfectly with the present.

And in that present, I can now fully believe in spring. The eastern redbud trees are a lilac horizon, the evening stillness is interrupted by the cacophony of spring peepers in a nearby pond, clouds of citrine pollen settle on everything and everyone, the pair of European starlings have begun their yearly child-rearing in the chimney again, and looking out the kitchen window to the mountains all is more green than not. Through the winter, I’ve come to realize that this landscape may necessarily have to be mine for a good, long time. Indefinitely. And with that understanding I must travel to a kind of settledness. Or perhaps an unfolding of equilibrium. The last several years I had mostly believed were temporary, a pause on the path to a Place I’d Really Like to Be. And through that, there has been resistance, much. A familiar pattern to me by now, so many places merely lived in, superficially, because it’s all just too much to truly learn a place which is only yours for a while. And patterns become habits (habit: recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition), become constitution. A way of being. The way of being.

And I’m just not sure I know any other way. An old friend finds herself in the position, for the first time ever, of being completely unfettered, without a single tie to any place or person. Able to just pick up and go anywhere in search of that Place to Really Be, trying them all on until one fits. I am nostalgically envious, remembering what that is like. In mid-February, in the 20 degrees and snow (so out of my character, voluntarily participating in winter), I spent two hours with a small group of people watching and listening to the local birdlife in the woods. A few weeks ago, I ventured into those same woods for the purpose of finding and learning about wildflowers. Last night, I listened to Appalachian writers discuss and read from their work. I have no idea if I will be able to learn to see, live deeply in, and love this landscape. None of these things, birds, wildflowers, local literature has much resonated with me before. But here I am trying to find a new way, something that will connect and ground and contain, something to transform constitution into the seeds of something native.

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3 thoughts on “Lines Written with a Slate Pencil

  1. Dear Mel, you sound resigned but at the same time open and prepared for a new beginning. Sometimes I look at my desert landscape and wish I could look through your eyes at the green hills of the East, Appalachia and Kentucky but it IS possible to find peace and make a home in the most unlikely places. It's taken me a long time, but with a little zen, El Paso is home. Maybe not forever but I felt more accepted once I accepted this place. Live fully in every moment. Don't let the beauty and wonder pass you by while you look ahead. This place too is part of your journey.

  2. Thank you so much for showing me (us) through example how to use a blog as a way to share, explore, and contemplate. I've truly enjoyed it.

  3. @ Pam: Thank you so much for the words of encouragement. I'm trying to keep focused on really seeing all that this place has to offer.

    @ John: Ah, I wish I could have been a much better example this semester. But I hope you'll keep your blog up, because I will definitely keep following your explorations!

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