they pay to kiss your feet

since there's no one else around, we let our hair grow long and forget all we used to know. then our skin gets thicker from living out in the snow.

Friday, December 02, 2005

the things i carry

Today, I have this unquenchable sense of longing and it’s deep inside me and it’s gnawing and I think it’s trying to scratch its way to the surface. If it makes it, I will likely scream and maybe start to cry and ask really hard questions like, “What am I passionate about right now?” “What do I want to do with my life?” “What path am I on, and where is it leading?” and most importantly, “How am I supposed to be a passionate writer if I’m writing about manufacturing equipment and innovations in batter depositing?”

Seriously. I have these stories that I want to tell, stories about pain and loss and love and family and the American dream that is neither very American nor a reality and the way that my heart holds on for way too long to too many things. And how in the core of my being live these longings, these urges to make a difference with my words and with my life.

I want to write the story of a man who left everything he knew to come to a new country to chase a dream that eluded him. I want to dig deep, beyond surface words and facial expressions and smiles that cover the pain. I want to dig below where even he has been and I want to tell the world about it, eloquently.

Then there’s the story of a couple who had a child out of wedlock in the 1950s. They were catholic and the acceptable practice was to put the baby up for adoption. And so, they did. Months later, they got married and had a family of four kids and they were close and passionate about life and about love and living and about finding their lost daughter. The daughter had her own life then. She had a family, three kids of her own, a husband, a career and a really confusing sense of who she was. Her research had taken her nowhere and she didn’t even really know what her birth parent’s last name was. She knew they were 19 when she was born and that they lived in Topeka and that they must have been attractive to create her. She has a face that is often compared to Michelle Pfeiffer’s. But, she had a deep need for love and a fear of being left and she thought it came from the months she spend in the orphanage, swaddled in a crib, with hardly a human to hold her, to love her, to touch her. When she finally met her birthmother, she was 43. They had the same hands and the same face and build and the same need to connect. They held each other for hours — trying to make up for 40 years of hugs that didn’t happen and when I look at my mother and my grandmother together, I realize that God really does work because things like that, stories like that, just aren’t supposed to have a happy ending.

And I want to write about my own demons. About the need I used to have for perfection, for a perfect body and straight As and a perfect family and car and how chasing that image, that falsity, could have destroyed me. I want to write about how he picked me up from that mess, how he helped me gain the weight I needed and the confidence I needed and how he showed me there is so much more to life and living.

1 Comments:

  • At 10:11 AM, Blogger jessgottlieb said…

    Jessi,
    Write those stories. They are the stories we read about in feature writing classes. Write them and submit them to magazines and newspapers. You're such a talented writer and you will capture these peoples' journeys (as well as your own) in such an amazing way. I would LOVE to read those compelling stories, not just because you're my friend, but because you're SO talented and those stories are SO compelling. Have faith in yourself and make it happen, and maybe it will lead to bigger things (like a job at the New Yorker?!)

     

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