Why Write? Part Two: To Remember
Right now I am sitting in Anodyne coffee shop on the corner of Nicollet and 43rd St. in Minneapolis. I am seated in the corner, looking out the window at the guy across the street shovel the walk in front of Midwest Cycle Supply.
The air is warm–about 31 degrees–so the snow is sticking to the trees, brown and white-shadowed branches and twigs reaching into a white sky. It’s magical, this place where we live in a snowglobe, where 31 degrees in October is ghastly, and in February is heavenly.
I want to remember how it looks, how it feels right now.
I want to remember how it feels to be 37 years old in this moment–listening to the din of many conversations and laptop keys clicking and coffee cups clanging and Bob Dillon playing overhead in this coffee shop, trying to feel my way through this essay as I write on my laptop.
This moment, here now, and never again.
Lucy just turned three and still sucks her nuk and wears a rats nest in her hair because she hates to have it brushed. Oliver wears his batman underwear around the house pulled up to the high heavens, and keeps his new light-up Transformers shoes next to his bed so he can see them when he wakes up. The house is a mess with wooden dolls and stuffed animals and plastic dinosaurs and uncapped markers and parts of the Princess and the Pea tea set from Grandma Sue littered in every room.
These little things that we think don’t really matter, that we take for granted, that we just want cleaned up and put away–these are the little things that leave our memories first as Time rolls forward.
But it’s these little things that decorate the landscape of our days. It’s these little things I want to remember.
Some day too soon Oliver will grow out of his Transformer light-up shoes and we will bring them in a box along with the tea set and the wooden dolls and stuffed animals and donate them to the ARC. And in that box will also be their 3T and 4T shirts and pants along with the princess dresses and dangerous plastic princess shoes that Lucy loves. Right now.
Some day, all of the things that make messes and drive me crazy, all of the little articles of clothing I’ve folded a hundred times, will have moved on, barely remembered. Barely remembered, that is, unless I write them down.
“…How Frank had wished that now could last forever and how their father had said forever was but a trail of nows and the best a man could do was live each one fully in its turn…” –p. 338 of The Horse Whisperer
It’s the ordinary things that make a life, yet it’s the ordinary things that we think are too ordinary to write about.
So why write?
Reason #2: We write to remember.
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.” -Anais Nin
The one constant in life is that everything will change, everything will cease to exist as it does now–it’s that very fact of life that at times threatens to launch me into depression. Life. It’s the only thing we know, yet for all of us, someday it will cease to be. How do we deal with this fact of our existence? How do we release our grip and just let life flow through us?
The only way I know to harness life, to hold on to the moments a little longer so I can let them go, is to write. It is the way I deal with the transitory nature of life without going nuts.
If I can’t have it forever, at least let me be able to visit it again, some other snowy February day, perhaps, in some coffee shop when I’ve earned more wrinkles and gray hairs, when Oliver and Lucy have long grown out of plastic toys and stuffed animals. Let me rememeber, if even for a moment, how it felt to be sitting here, at 37 years old, in this coffee shop watching the snow falling, knowing my family is at home, healthy and together.
Let me write so I can remember this moment, right now.