My blank stare is starting to burn a hole in my outdated iPhone4. Between contemplating this silly phone call and going on with my day, a half hour easily is wasted. Long distance to a friend who hasn't been in my life for a while. I miss him, though. Terribly.
He's my pen pal now, a sort of estranged pen pal and I think of him far more often than I should. I wonder what would happen if I feverishly scripted to him the words that are written in many places...in every journal, in silly doodles - oh how I am such a sixteen year old girl when it comes to matters of the heart. I am painfully melodramatic. I didn't know my mother and father got together after they had sent letters back and forth. I had some vague idea of how I imagined they came together, but it wasn't until my mother said the other day that he physically wrote her that I felt a slight poke of panic. That what if...no. I can't go there, because it keeps me from moving forward. But wouldn't it be nice?
I sit on my bed and read his letters. Eyes glistening, in a happy way. Nothing depressing. I glance over the card with the Union Jack pinwheel for the thousandth time, and I wish I had an answer. David.
Dial in the fancy international area code. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.
"So", I asked, "What if I moved to England?"
Pause. Cheeks redden. I get that weird, dizzy feeling. My head suddenly weighs thousand pounds.
"That would be great fun, wouldn't it?" he chirps back.
"I've been looking for work, looking for something I would like to do," I respond. My voice bears the weight of my pounding headache.
"It'll be great. I have some friends who can help you find a flat. It'll be good, yeah?"
I nod quietly on my end of the phone. "Definitely. I've never been to London, you know. It's the last big European city I need to visit. It seems really...rosy and happy." What I'm really looking forward to is a little more time with him. But he probably knows that.
"You'll love it, I promise. I've got to run. Let me know if I can help with anything."
There was this small interlude between him and me, once, forever ago. And I'm positive it was love. It encompassed that pang, that sweet little nudge - this thought flickers in my drive-thru memory all the time. The two of us sitting on the side street, waiting for our other friends to arrive. We were chatty, but content to wait without filling every silence. He held a casserole dish, I carried a bag of grocery-bought cookies, or something. He invited us to a garden party, his whole group of friends, that his boss hosted. It was a cozy evening of petanque and polite conversation with a cavalcade of new, brightly friendly faces. It was easy to be alone with him, before the party crowd drew in.
But that was a while ago. I flip open my computer screen and scroll to the MediaBistro job board. Mindlessly zero-ing in on anything with "London" following the job title. Writer, editor, social media. The framework that contains my half-baked career path. "Copywriter", "Social Media Manager", "Editor"...that's me.
Why can't I spit it out? I read endlessly about how to write. Scour the pages of Amazon looking for some book, some tome, something that will bring forth that spark propel a burst of fabulousness from within. "When I grow up, I want to be fabulous," I used to inform grown-ups when they asked. And it was true. I saw myself in the highest of heels, at a party or out all night dancing, speaking as many languages as my Midwest-raised brain would allow, remaining impossibly youthful but genteel, simultaneously. I indulge a dazzling fantasy life. I always have and I hope I always will.
So back to the writing. I am a writer. And I think it's silly to say so, because I cling to this absurd thought that....well, to call yourself a "writer" is akin to giving yourself a nickname. It has to be earned. I love to write. It's one of the simplest truths of my life. I may not commit pen to paper or type my thoughts out as much as I would like, but writing is something I could relate to on that special, preternatural level. It's something I've maintained a fair amount of confidence in, even though I haven't received consistent praise. I've been warned of tense problems (valid), of arguments structured improperly. What keeps me writing is my love of words, my complete admiration of language, the hope that certain teachers were right that I have a voice, I need to mine it.
What makes a writer a writer? Sitting at a computer for 6 hours a day? Day jobs make that a difficult feat. Creating character. Inventing worlds. Investigating the known, the unknown. I may be lazy, but how I wish, wish upon the shiniest star that one day I will write something worth reading.
So I start off the day, take out my notebook, look across the desk to the window and its view of downtown. I think about the last time I really felt sucker-punched by love. Because I like to write about love, about the jumble of feelings it brings, how ornate and detailed it feels. Falling in love is...I don't know, maybe I haven't been in love. But the thought of it, it's wickedly delightful design.
When I was younger, I used to lay in my basement bedroom, listening to the same songs over and over again. That's how I fell for music, music in general - the stuff I am drawn to, it never gets old. And the best songs, to me anyway, aren't marked by lyrics that changed a generation or that hook that just won't quit, it's that moment where I feel lost. The guitar riff that just...hits a nerve. I need to rewind, hear it again, again, again. It's never more than forty seconds or so; an interlude, a piano loop, that menacingly perfect guitar riff. Sometimes the fade-out is the best part. I like music best when it's a study in contrast....quiet, loud, varying instrumentation. It doesn't need to be popular, it doesn't need to be indie, it just needs to be what I like. And if I like it, I'll listen to it forever.