Wednesday, September 26, 2012

the still-young years

Monday night I ended up listening to music I used to listen to when I was a teenager; Mazzy Star, The Cranberries, Tori Amos, Dead Can Dance. Crazy how music can be an emotional time machine. I was back at 14, in the drama room, the musky funk of old velvet curtains, writing poems in my journal. I was the only brown girl in drama, somehow cast as Helena in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." For the first time in a long time I had a tiny sense of belonging. I had left the cult I was raised in, the supreme and devastating hell that was junior high was over and I was starting to make friends who were as "weird" as I was. But the belonging was a fragile tread, circumstantial. I was a the fringe group of a fringe group. It would take years and years before I accepted my solitary-ness, the lone wolf tendencies that make me happy.

Last night I taught my creative writing class for teens at the shelter. It was the most challenging class I've ever taught. I have a new group of students, a small group. The group I was working with before was a unit, they all knew each other, hung out, were kind of tough and ruled by one loud voice. These new kids broke me open and reminded me of me at 14, how hard it is. They are brilliant, vulnerable, open to the point where I had to really control myself to not cry in front of them.  I think as adults we forget that being a teen is a fucking rollercoaster. We have new bodies and emotions but are still learning how to cope, how to manage the ride without getting sick. I'm grateful to have these students reminding me of that ride. I'm grateful they open up to me.

Their stories stayed with me last night. I carried all of them on my heart and body and was exhausted early. I allowed myself some tears before bed, spoke with someone on the phone who was, as always, soothing, balm to whatever is hurting me. He works with teens too and offered insights and ways to reach back to them without alienating them. I had a hard time falling asleep. The music from my teenage years was stuck in my head. I reminded myself over and over that I'm writing for her, the girl who needed to see herself as someone beautiful, relevant.

I've hit something of a wall in the writing this week. I am so close to the end. Of course, this is where all the doubts come up, raging, screaming, throwing themselves in front of me. I had a white night the other night, convinced myself I am a failure, that no one will ever care about what I write, that I'm deluding myself. I was vaudevillian in my personal drama, draped across the sofa with my head hanging off the edge. Beloved called, heard my weepiness and got me straight. He reminded me ego is showing up, crazy because ego likes status quo. Ego would rather I stay in place, not grow because growth is opportunity for growth, opening. If When I do this, finish this book, I'm then opening myself up for possible success, as well as failure. He told me that it gets harder the closer I get. Labor pains. I was mollified.

So yeah. I'm in labor. Dilating. Pushing this book baby out. I think of the moms I know who while in labor have said they never want to go through it again but as soon as the baby comes, they forget the pain. Hmm. I really hope the same things happens with this book because this crap hurts.

Speaking of dramatic, when I was 13 I listened to this album on cassette over and over again until I destroyed the cassette. I loved this song and hated we lived where there was no snow. I really wanted to listen to this song while walking through the snow. Ha! I love teenage me, the dramatic little shit. But listening to it now, I see why it appealed to me.

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