Staying Where I Am
By Lindsey Crittenden
The other night, I got home from my writers’ group feeling jazzed. After struggling with a story revision, I’d decided to show them something different, twenty-five pages of new nonfiction. “I loved it,” they said, and “This is what you should be writing.” Comments and questions, too, but in general a big thumbs-up.
I dropped my satchel on the hall chair. I wanted to read everyone’s comments. But it was a little after ten, and C wanted to hear about my day and I about his, and by the time we’d talked and brushed our teeth, it was eleven. I’d look at the comments in the morning, I told myself: first thing, at the dining room table where I work.
In the morning I woke, less eager than I’d anticipated. I started oatmeal over the stove, prayed, drank a cup of coffee. I went to the satchel and pulled out the marked-up pages, carried them to the table.
Then, back in the kitchen, while slicing banana onto my oatmeal, I thought of a line for the story revision. The narrator needs to do something icky, and I haven’t figured out quite what. I’ve jotted down ideas, but I haven’t been written any out.
I know that until I actually do—force myself to write, word by word, what makes me uneasy—I won’t get anywhere. I’ll keep circling, hovering, like a plane in holding pattern over the runway, not yet cleared for landing.
I am my own air-traffic control, I remind myself. I can clear myself for landing at any time.
So, at the table, I call up the story. “The Ruins,” revision number four. I write a few words and think, OK, time to read what my group wrote.
And a voice says, “No, stay here, finish this scene.”
I write a few more lines. I get another idea. Got to keep going so I don’t lose it, I tell myself, though each moment writing this is a moment away from that....
One Saturday afternoon last April, C came over to Berkeley to meet me after my class. "Want to sit?" he asked, gesturing toward a bench in the sunshine, near an old oak.
"Sure," I said.
For a minute, I thought. Then we need to choose a movie, plan our evening, figure out when we’ll eat.
He had in mind a different kind of sitting. Staying, really, for longer than I ever would have done so alone.
We watched a feisty terrier disobey his owner. We felt the sun on our skin. I lay with my head on C’s lap. We held hands. For thirty, forty minutes. Then we got up, walked down Telegraph Avenue past the jewelry vendors, the head shops, the tie-dyed onesies for sale outside Starbucks. We went into Moe’s and browsed books, then crossed the street to Caffè Med, where we drank latte and talked about C’s alcoholism, my depression, my brother’s addiction.
Not at all. It was unexpected confidence, unplanned intimacy, a moment that wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t sat on the bench and strolled down Telegraph Avenue...Read it all
--->I still try to remember her, wherever she is...
--->Seeing, the first time...
--->O Marvelous Exchange! The theology of the season of Christmas - the Incarnation by Dom Columba Marmion...
The eternal Father to St. Catherine: "Do you know, daughter, who you are and who I am? If you know these two things you will have beatitude within your grasp. You are she who is not, and I AM HE WHO IS." ---Life of St. Catherine of Siena, Raymond of Capua, 92
Apropos of that, God's Name is "I Am," the One who Is" (Cf Exo 3:14 & see Jn 8:58-60 where Jesus declares this His Name). Nothingness has no potency, for it is not. If some wish to opt for the notion that nothingness is of itself some kind of potent vortex from which all 'comes' by 'chance,' they anthropomorphize a metaphor. "The Law of Biogenesis, attributed to Louis Pasteur, states that life arises from pre-existing life, not from nonliving material. Pasteur's (and others) empirical results were summarized in the phrase, Omne vivum ex vivo, Latin for, "all life [is] from life", also known as the "law of biogenesis". Pasteur stated: "La génération spontanée est une chimère" ("Spontaneous generation is a dream")"---Wikipedia