You’re at the check out stand and the grocery store down the street and two people behind you is a familiar face. Do you know her? You sneak a glance, then return your eyes forward; you don’t want to be caught staring. Because if it’s not someone you know, then you’re looking straight on at a stranger, someone like you just going through the motions of buying the necessities, trying to get supplies for dinner, get home, get on with her life. Someone who isn’t in a place that welcomes a stranger’s stare. It’s even worse if it really is someone you know because for the life of you, you can’t remember HOW you know her. No name, no memory of the circumstances under which you are acquainted. And if she recognizes you, then you have to make the polite, nameless, where-do-I-know-you-from conversation. How are you? It’s been a long time… What are you up to? etc. etc.
As you walk out the door you realize that the girl in line isn’t the person you know; she just looks like a person you once went to school with in a different state. What a relief that she didn’t catch you staring.
I don’t know why a moment such as this struck a chord with me today. Writing for myself has become sort of like that familiar face in the crowd, someone I know but with whom I’ve completely lost touch. And yet, it’s when I get busy like this that I write best. It’s a funny thing. When I’m playing housewife, home alone with hours to kill, I never write. I’ll sit and watch TV for hours, read a book, clean my house, mow the lawn, anything and everything but write. But when I’m in a high school from 7 to 3 and a class from 4 to 7, I itch to write.
Even though I want to write, I don’t really have the time, and my thoughts are so jumbled I’m not sure where to begin. I want to write about the aggressive driver in the 90s green Dodge pickup with Idaho plates and a strip of duct tape coming off his bumper, dancing like toilet paper in the wind as he weaved towards me on the freeway. I want to write about my newfound insomnia, about waking up every night at 3 a.m. like some sort of horror movie. Every. Single. Night. I want to write about missing English classes and all the frustrations that come along with being a student again. I want to write about stress, and about money, and about buying $7 jarlsberg cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich when my bank account is basically empty. But it’s almost 11 and I have to leave my place by 6:30 looking like a put together, professional adult so I’m just writing nothing and anything to scratch the writing itch.