I owe you an apology. I haven’t seen you in two months with no attempt to say hello with even a scribble of a few sentences. We haven’t tangled in sorting mixed words or found clarity in excavating unclear meanings or built a solid structure from a wobbly one in a long time. It’s not that I haven’t thought about you, because I have, especially in the mornings, when we used to sit and work together. I’ve been away because of a personal matter where my thoughts and energy have been diverted elsewhere. And I’m sorry about that. I am missing you as I have found our work most rewarding.
Over the many years you and I have been seeing each other, I have come to understand how strong our relationship has become, one of comfort and inspiration, if not, of personal growth. Though not to be confused with journal writing, where my thoughts are my own and privacy will never turn public, telling stories with good doses of reflection and inspiration and sharing them are what I like to do best. And now, in their absence, I can see the connection has splintered. But I hope that a few filaments have stayed strong and I can grab onto them once again.
I liken our relationship to a practice. The more I strike a pen to open your door of white space, the better at it I can become. I was doing well, having completed an extensive development rewrite on The Wisdom of Willow, my first book-length fiction. I am very happy at how it turned out and I am hoping that after my editor’s review, I can submit it to publishers knowing it is my best work. Pulling ninety-thousand words together to tell a story has given me a sense of accomplishment as matched with my previously published memoir, Under the Birch Tree.
So, in anticipation of picking up where we have left off, I reintroduce myself to your blank page.
But before we start, I want to tell you of a special place. It is one that never seems to leave me, just as I hope what will happen when we see each other again. It offers a curious mind answers to questions, a creative soul artistic expression in prose, and just good air and conversation among me and the trees.
I have walked the route to it in spring when dabs of green pop from taupe and tan earth, in summer when the lush green thickness of the woods block any depth perception I may have, in fall when the green turns hot red and burnt orange, and in winter when I sink my feet into a bed of white fluff and raise my head to a canvas of thick grey.
Recently, on my way there, I was struck by turns and crossroads where my path forward has not always been a straight one. I thought about how I could say this about our lives. How though we walk through the same routines of our day, no two walks are the same. We will always encounter challenges that could change our directions, leading us astray from our familiar.
I think of how this break from each other has been just one of those turns where I fear time away could have put creative writing in jeopardy. Will I have to start over with you in developing a tandem relationship?
When I reach the little bridge, a place of stillness over a branch of the Chicago River, the water reflects that which it is surrounded by, and I succumb to the familiar and the comfortable. It is something I learned I can count on to be there as it remains unchanged and is always welcoming.
Just like writing.
When I return to it, I will think of standing on the little bridge and peeking through a rusty triangle of fencing to search for the depths of the water below, where ducks upend themselves, the sun’s soft shine filters through the trees, and the blue herons skim their tops.
I will think that despite my absence from you, you will be there, where the connection remains, and where one again, I will look over a bridge and write of depths below, the earth at my feet, and the heavens above.
I no longer fear you and that I will have to start over.