Monday, July 9, 2012

Creativity Day 10: Woven Essay


I wrote this for a 24 hour writing competition for Utah Arts Festival. (A competition that, by the way, I won.) I haven't revisited it since, so it's still in first draft mode, but I think I can turn it into something sometime.

A List of Things That Are Delicate

I am currently on probation at the DMV.
This probation from the combined speeding ticket October 2010, reckless driving ticket (cutting through a parking lot) November 2011, and another reckless driving ticket (running into the back of another car) April 2012. If I get a ticket of any kind in the next two years my license will be suspended for a minimum of one month.
All in all, between totaling my mom’s car, beating up mine such that both bumpers needed replacement, and crashing a rental car into the garage, we estimate that I’ve caused somewhere in the neighborhood of $35,000 of damage since I started driving not quite two years ago.

Δ

I want to be loving. I want people to know it when I love them. I want to be able to love those I see as unlovable.

Δ

On the other hand, my father has never had a single ticket in the fifty-five years he has been driving. Naturally, he’s not to thrilled about my track record. But he pays the bills and gets most upset about the Women for Obama bumper sticker I keep on my car.

Δ

Careers I want to have when I grow up:
·      Lawyer
·      Writer
·      Cowboy
·      Politician
·      NGO-worker
·      Journalist

Δ

Pufferfish are fish that, generally speaking, do not swim. When they do it’s clumsy, slow, and awkward, like a newborn zebra running from a hyena. Unlike their counterparts, when pufferfish feel threatened, they stay in place. Instead of escaping, they swallow enormous amounts of water, turning themselves into an inedible ball covered in protruding spines.

Δ

I want to be positive. I want to be able to choose to see the good in people, activities
and situations.
Δ

I will go to my grave insisting that I would be a better driver save for the size of my car. I drive a 2008 Lexus LX 570. It is 16.375 feet long,  6.461 feet wide, and 6.327 feet tall. You know those huge ass ones you see driving around? The ones that barely fit in the lines of a parking spot? The ones that make all those black wheel marks you see on sidewalks? All me.  

Δ

I want to be helpful. I want to help starving children in Africa and enslaved women in Cambodia, but I also want to help those around me, in big and in small ways.

Δ

All things considered, it’s a surprise that what is probably the biggest beating my car has taken did not happen with me at the wheel, but my father.

Δ

Things that made my day:
·      The woman who, when I told her where I was going college responded, “oh, you must be a writer.”
·      The face cream the smells like red wine
·      The hypnotist who majored in English but does this now because “there’s no money there.”
·      The billboard on 500 South that reads PREPARE FOR JUNE 26 which happens to be my 18th birthday

Δ

I want to be fun. I want to smile and laugh freely and enjoy life as it is. I want to help those around me do the same, simply by being who I am.

Δ

My father took what has since become my car down to Moab - for our annual trip to hike to Delicate Arch - the month he bought it. We left the day after the new license plate had come in, with it’s Delicate Arch insignia that all of our cars have.
My father was proud of his new toy: a 8-cylinder V type 4-cycle gasoline engine, 8500 pound towing capacity, 112.2 inch wheel base, all in a classy color called Twilight in the brochure. A car to pull the horse trailer, a car to fill with carpool, a car to take to Colorado on fishing trips.

Δ

Inside my chest, I house a pufferfish. She does her own thing most of the time, but when I need to communicate her, I do so by placing my palm over her, Pledge of Allegiance style.

Δ

I want to be strong. I want to be able to challenge myself; to enlarge my comfort zone; to do hard things; to expand myself my whole life. I want to work hard and ultimately develop a huge perseverance and determination.

Δ

Sometime during this particular Moab trip, my father decided it was high time my brother and I saw Canyonlands. So we all loaded in the car that still smelled of freshly-murdered-calf leather and drove down to the entrance. When we got there my father announced, “We’re going to go over Elephant Hill.”

Δ

Things that I’ve done on a dare:
·      Eaten a steak raw
·      Gotten a Brazilian wax
·      Tried to read David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest
·      Driven 100 MPH on the freeway

Δ

I want to be gentle. I want to allow myself to be taken care of and I want to be able to take care of others.

Δ

“We are?” my mom asked, “We haven’t been over Elephant Hill in 20 years. And this is your new car. And it’s not built for off-roading.” My father looked at her, the car, her again. “It’ll do fine. It’s got a good wheel base and shocks. It’ll be the nicest ride over Elephant Hill you’ve ever had.”

Δ

I want to be kind. I want to fill my heart with compassion and generosity.

Δ

 Sometimes, my pufferfish will awkwardly try to swim away or share too much. When this happens, I place my hand over her in a calm but firm gesture to keep her in place. Conversely, when she’s threatened – worried about being stabbed or trampled on – and her spines are sticking out, I reassuringly cover her with my hand, trying to remind her that it’s okay to be vulnerable sometimes. Sometimes, my palm covers her up simply to soothe her; a friendly reminder that the world is a nice place to be.

Δ

So we went. Sure enough, the car wasn’t suited for off-roading. It was too wide and it couldn’t turn near sharply enough. There were a few moments when things seemed worrisome, when the cliff seemed closer than it should be, but we made it each time. We had for ourselves a beautiful day in Canyonlands, full of family bonding and new adventures.

Δ

Things I spend my allowance on:
·      Books
·      Organic fruit
·      Going out for coffee
·      Hair products
·      Expensive imported cheese

Δ

I want to be observant. I want to pay attention to my world. I want to see for myself the beautiful and the ugly.

Δ

Eventually, twilight was coming and it seemed high time we headed out of Canyonlands. Fifteen minutes from the exit point – the point where rock became a dirt road – there was a bang and a hiss. Flat tire.

Δ

While I’m comforting my pufferfish with my palm, my index finger aligns itself with my collar bone – the only bone I’ve ever broken and my favorite of the two hundred and eleven bones in my body. My left collar bone tells me I’m fragile and vulnerable to getting hurt, but it also reminds me that I’m capable of healing so totally even an x-ray can’t detect I was ever broken.

Δ

I want to be vulnerable. I want to let myself be deeply seen; to love with everything I have even when there are no guarantees; to open up though it is excruciatingly uncomfortable.

Δ

But this was no stopping point! We were half way up a hill. A tire couldn’t possibly be changed here! Onward we pressed, flat tire and all.

Δ

Things I don’t say:
·      Will you take care of me?
·      I’ve had too much coffee.
·      You don’t need to buy me a present.

Δ

I want to be courageous. I want to have the courage to be imperfect. I want to have the courage to love with loyalty – to do what is right for others regardless of the consequences for myself.
Δ

A minute or so later we reached a stopping-place nearly flat peninsula. We stopped, put on the parking break and ventured out to assess the damage. The tire was very much busted. Worse, however, was the dinner tray sized dent next to the wheel well of the front left tire. It looked like someone had thrown a boulder at that whole corner of the car.
Which, in reality, is exactly what happened.

Δ

I want to be open. I want to love and cry and speak freely.

Δ

Sometimes, I don’t consciously hide my pufferfish. Sometimes it just happens.
It happens when I cry over the ice cream shop running out of chocolate and it happens when I hear the Rolling Stone’s “Wild Horses”. It happens when I’m afraid I’m not good enough to tell the story and it happens when I explain that the stupid teenage boy hurt my feelings. It happens in English class when I stop talking about the book and start talking about myself – even when I’m still using the character’s name – and it happens when I admit things were painful. It happens when someone tells me they’re praying for me or that they’re proud of me or that they love me.

Δ

The sun setting, my father and twelve-year-old brother set about changing the tire. But the incline was wrong and the jack wasn’t working and this was no ordinary tire change. As twilight began to hit my mother started to cry and exclaimed, “This is the dumbest idea ever! Let’s just leave the car and hike out! It’s not worth it! We’re going to get into a crisis! Leave the car and hike out!”

Δ

I want to be honest. I want to be able to admit to myself and express freely my emotions, thoughts, and opinions.

Δ

My father looked at her like she’d just suggested communication with extra-terrestrial intelligence. He was not leaving his new car here. “It’ll be fine, we just need to change the tire. We’re almost done.” By almost done, he meant they’d almost started.

Δ

Things that I found under my bed:
·      My mostly-blank journal from 2009
·      The Grapes of Wrath
·      Six black Pilot G2 pens
·      An Orlando Bloom poster
·      2 tubes of red lipstick

Δ

I want to be loved. I want to be worthy of that love. I want to be among those who will stand with me through it all.

Δ

So my mother started hiking. My brother and I opted to stay with the car. My mother might have left my dad with the car all night, but she couldn’t leave Sam and I. So back she came.
Stubborn. Obstinate. Worried.

Δ

I want to be spiritual. I want to cultivate that part of myself that I don’t understand now.

Δ

Somehow, my father got the tire changed. We got up and over Elephant Hill in the dark. The dinner platter dent, as it would later be known, was the first of many, the rest to be inflicted by me.
The second the tires hit the dirt road my mother leaned her chair back all the way and whispered, “We made it. We’re safe.” Then she turned to my father and said, “I am so emotionally exhausted.”

Δ

When my pufferfish needs to speak, I give her voice by covering her with my palm. That way I can signify it’s not my head that thinks this, it’s my heart that feels it.

Δ

I want to be happy. I want to love who I am, embrace my faults, glorify my strengths, and accept my choices, good or bad.  I want to know I’m enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment