Part of the Finding is Getting Lost 1/27/18

Things have lives too. And memories are shapes you can hold on your tongue and on your back like a snowflake or purse.


My first car was a 1980 silver Ford Mustang with two doors purchased for $1 from my grandmother who was so tidy and obsessively clean that it still smelled new even though she’d owned it for a decade. She’d place her handbag behind the drivers seat when we went out, wearing tightly fitting leather gloves and a trench coat, keys enveloped in a leather sleeve that snapped shut. There was never anything superfluous around her, nothing out of place, never tissues or gum wrappers littering her car, lip glosses, sunglasses, pens, nail files, CDs, books, shoes, extra hats, pine needles, shards of micah and bark. 

The pick-up on the car was swift, entering the highway suddenly, confidently. Rear wheel drive and exactly the wrong car for Ithaca winters. I’d slide down the abundant steep hills. I’d have to put chains on the back tires, or studded winter tires and cinder blocks in the trunk. I never felt safe but it didn’t even occur to me to trade it in for more suitable car and for some unknown reason neither did it occur to my mother. Surely it was a terrible idea to let me drive it to upstate NY and back again, packed to the gills with stuff, (once- two conga drums) driving six or seven hours in gusting snow storms. I had a big yellow ceramic ashtray bursting on the console and cassette tapes all over the place and we drove it to concerts, the city and around town, high or wired from all-night painting frenzies. Mostly it was to get me back and forth between states. I barely remember selling it after I finished school, with one more science class to complete before I could get my diploma, and I’m sure it was for a tiny amount of money and needed a ton of work. Then I left town in a UHaul packed with all of my possessions, heading for my step-father’s house because my mother and I hadn’t spoken in a year and I didn’t have enough money to move to San Francisco which had been the original plan. My best friend was already there. There had been school, and friends, and now there was an abyss. No feel for what was next. That theme repeats like tracks under a train.


Years ago, I read a quote by E.L. Doctorow that stayed with me: “Writing a novel is like driving at night- you can only see as far as your headlights but you can make the whole trip that way.

Life is like that actually- all of life- except for those imagined liquid glimpses into future or past. The cars we’ve driven, the clothes we’ve danced in, the dwellings we’ve inhabited; they whip-stitch into a big curious shimmering tent, don’t they? 


We aren’t molecules and atoms as much as we are stuff and stories, I think. And the things we’ve held and been held by tell their tales as much as we tell them ours. We write one another. 


There is a quote on my refrigerator by Sue Bender from her book Everyday Sacred: “Stories move in circles. They don’t go in straight lines. So it helps if you listen in circles. There are stories inside stories and stories between stories, and finding your way through them is as easy and as hard as finding your way home. 


And part of the finding is the getting lost.

And when you’re lost, you start to look around and to listen.

I'm keen to publish a book, which necessarily involves diving into circles and coasting in the dark. There is one I've been chipping away at for ten years: working title ~ An Ad Hoc Memoir About Teaching Yoga and Other Dirt

I may self-publish or I may keep at what I'm doing now, building a network and a base of potential readers and finishing it and looking for a publisher. Writing takes time and is the best job I could hope for but I've never made a dollar- yet. If you'd like to throw a bit of change into my hat as I play late into the night over subway sounds, I'd be grateful beyond measure.


Erin JadeComment