My Twisted Road Back to Apricotpie
It is sometimes fun to view a life metaphorically, and I have always liked thinking about my life as a road. (Not a very original picture, I admit...) This road has been snaking through the woods and over hills. Each stage of my life has had a different landscape. I have loitered, to rest… and I’ve sat on a rock and stared at two different paths for a long time. And frequently, especially in homeschooling, I felt like I was going down a grassy side-path far off the highway…
Maybe you’re curious where I picture myself now. Well, this view changes daily; maybe even hourly! After living at college for two years, and finding myself back at home, the path felt familiar again under my feet. It can be healing to experience a season, when you had not seen a “home fall", for example, for two years. Last autumn was a renewal; I felt like I was experiencing the Massachusetts gold and orange for the first time. “I remember - I remember - I remember!” It did a lot to bring me back to being young again; or at least remembering who I was two years ago. The seventeen or eighteen year old girl who walked in these woods and ate these nuts.
Who am I? Who was I? Who am I?
And then, to experience a home spring! It somehow started early with me this year - that sweetness of anticipation. Even with the heavy gray snowstorms, I somehow smelled a wetness in the air, even if it didn’t exist. Everything fresh, and everything sunny, only added to the tingling feeling I was experiencing. I have always loved fall better than spring. I have never myself felt particularly called or drawn towards spring. This spring is mine, though; this spring will be mine.
This one early morning, through the window, I heard our first birdsong. It pierced me, hit me in the gut almost, and carried me on a wave to three years ago. Hearing the bird songs at dawn is, to me, equivalent of seeing the evening star.
This link is very handy; you can easily and quickly listen to bird songs just by clicking on the bird name: http://www.enature.com/birding/audio.asp
Bird songs do a lot to me, as they probably do to other people. A chickadee’s “dee doo” at once makes me feel like I am in a certain sun-drenched, silent woods, and a young girl again… no matter where I am or how old I am. The wood thrush, however, makes me feel like I am deep in a viney forest on an old adventure with the boys.
I was wondering, a few weeks back, while I was driving, if spring was going to come early for me this year. Early “for me” sounds funny, but I mean - that it will come faster than I thought. That I wouldn’t have had time to build up anticipation. I suspected so, and am right. It’s a funny thing to be hit with beauty in the gut unprepared. Sometimes it’s the human inclination to want years of preparation before… what? I would rather wait years, getting ready, and proving myself, before... what? I feel that I should suffer more, bear more, before... heaven? The same with spring. Spring is a reward of sorts. But then I wonder - what if God wants to give me a gift sooner? I’ll take it! What if God wants to give me joy, unawares, and undeserving, and unequal to it, and surprising? It made me laugh, while driving, to think of joy like a headbutt to the stomach. I’ll take it, if You want it.
"In a most irritating manner he instantly slapped his hands against one another, daintily flung one of his legs up behind him, pulled my hair, slapped his hands again, dipped his head, and butted it into my stomach."
But back to my twisted road.
It used to be that I trusted, very deeply, when leaves seemed to close in all about me, and I couldn’t see ahead. There was a secure and almost lazy feeling homeschooling. Now, as a young adult, the horizon is scary. Why? Because it is clearer? Or unclear? “What are those dark shapes I can’t make out?” “What is this blank snowy field?” “Why do I see nothing growing in this place yet?” “Is life written or unwritten? Is my fate determined or undetermined?”
I was with a friend last summer, sleeping over somebody’s house, and while we were falling asleep I whispered to her how I felt, like I had never before, that my future was blank. Complete black. I couldn’t anticipate anything or build up anything, it seemed. Black black black.
“Well, it could be the blackness of a tilled field,” she whispered back, "expecting the seeds."
I’ve kept those words in my head. I felt that they were sure.
“But why do I see nothing growing in this place?”
I am sort of seeing this piece as necessary to write, and probably very boring for you to read… Let me go faster: let me unroll my map and trace the road back: In 2003, I first went on apricotpie.com. I loved reading the pieces. That year I sent a message to one of the girl writers and we became email penpals. And this past November I visited with her family many states away for the second time.
In 2003, I also noticed one of the writers who had lost a younger brother, and that story touched me, like it would everyone else... But when I went to college, the sister of that writer was my first roommate. Not by my design. And this past summer I was a bridesmaid in her wedding. I was on the phone with her yesterday and she was talking about getting new chickens, and how the morning sickness has passed.
Apricotpie, without getting too sentimental, has woven itself in and out of my life in many ways. I practically lived on the message board, as a home-away-from-home. It gave me a community some kids have at school. It was a lively conglomeration. Anyone from there will remember our food fights, and elections, and story role plays… and our fiery debates… To be honest, I can’t even reconfigure my homeschool years in my mind without the fun of the AP message board.
You may wonder why I’ve never been an apricotpie writer. Oh, lots of reasons. I’ve read some people’s work here and despaired. “What is the point of writing anything else?” And posting a piece seemed equivalent to leaving a diary open on a coffee table.
Yet, half a dozen years later, here I am. Hope you won’t get too bored.