Getting Out

getting out of dad's boat

The day my mother left Florida I waited until after she was gone to call. I was 13 and it was a school day. September I think. I used the pay phone in back of the library. The phone at her boyfriend’s house rang. I let it ring 20 times, started to hang up, and let it ring a few times more. But they were already on their way to Texas.

She’d gotten angry with me several months before. She’d said if I wanted to talk things over, I could call. She’d leave me alone. She sent me letter telling me she was moving, giving me the date and time. I waited until 10 minutes after the last minute to call.

When I’m back in my hometown, I can’t write. Even when I’m having fun, I’m thinking about when I will leave and how silly it is to give a place so much power. It is just a place.

What places help or hinder your writing? Does it matter? Why should it?

13 thoughts on “Getting Out

  1. Those places where I can or cannot write are interior and have more to do with my state of mind at the moment rather than any particular feature of external landscape. I can and have written in large, raucous surroundings and not been able to write in soothing solitude. I guess the only place I consistently cannot write is the place where the background music is J.S. Bach, who for whatever reason is so interesting that all my attention is drawn to it and not to the visions and impulses inside.

    1. I write in silence and with the TV on. I write in public places, in the car, and at work. I write with music and with my son talking to me. I write anywhere. Except in the house I grew up in, which is probably all about my state of mind.

  2. I don’t know why but when I write, I want to write about coasts. Rocky, surf-battered coasts with wooden fishing shanties and rotting old dinghys sitting beneath steel gray skies.

    I grew up near a coast and want to be near one again. I think they inspire me, inspire my imagination, spark it, give it the flame of creative life.

    I can’t tell you why though.

    1. There is something about water. I’d love to live near it again–although I don’t live so far really. It is a matter of taking the time. Growing up I could look out the window and there the lake would be.

      Maybe the coast inspires you because you grew up there and it helped form you. I think our landscapes do shape us. That landscape is part of your earliest, formative memories. Why shouldn’t it inspire you?

  3. When I was younger and would write poetry, I could write practically anywhere. On anything. Napkins, envelopes, paper coasters from Denny’s.

    I have noticed that there’s this weird dynamic that occurs when people go back to their childhood homes. It’s like a strange dance that must occur in a certain way, and all the dancers must dance a specific role. When you were growing up, you probably hadn’t discovered your desire to write, so there’s no association, as it were. Does that make sense? It’s part of the adult you, not the childhood you. So it’s more difficult to retain the adult you in the childhood home.

    And by “you” I mean in the generic sense. It happens to all of us in some way or other. We all seem to have this level where we revert. It can be interesting to observe, much more than participate. 😉

  4. [Sorry, irrelevant aside, but the photo made me laugh for a second. I imagined someone handing an extraterrestrial creature a copy of it, and saying, “That’s what Earthlings look like.” And the E.T. looks puzzled and finally asks, “Don’t they have faces?”]

    Places again, eh? I sense a theme for the week.

    There was a time when I could write just about anywhere. (Though I wasn’t particularly religious about saving/organizing all those pieces of paper.) But I get impatient writing by hand anymore, and my handwriting — I block-letter rather than write cursive — has deteriorated, too. Which means, pretty much, that I write only when at a computer keyboard. And since I don’t have a laptop…

    I’d never have believed it at the time, but now I’m sort of relieved in this one respect that Mom opted to move out of our house some years after Dad died: I’d be writing-immobilized there, too.

    1. I don’t know if I have more to say about places… we’ll see. In the meantime, being faceless might be okay.

      Mom can’t be there to look over your shoulder. It is just stressful no matter what. Maybe that is why I can’t write at home–dad.

  5. I can’t write when my husband is in the same room with me, sometimes if he is in the same house as me. Other than that, I think I can write anywhere, with varying degrees of success.

  6. brinkmanship

    I write at work, generally after work when I should go home. I don’t write where my husband can see what I’ve written, but he doesn’t seem to mind.

    The story about your mother is really heartbreaking. I can picture you at the pay phone at the back of the library waiting the 10 minutes to call. Why did you choose that pay phone? What if you had called 5 minutes before the appointed time? Do you think she would have answered? Would she have delayed her departure to talk to you? Did you ever tell her that you called 10 minutes after the time? What did she say?

    1. If my husband minds I don’t share, he doesn’t say. As for my mom, I chose that phone because I went to the library after school and it was slightly more private and cleaner than the phone at the 7 Eleven down the street. I like to think mom would’ve talked to me if I’d had the courage to call on time. But I never told her. We ended up reconciling many things, but we never talked about that day. Maybe we would’ve if she’d lived longer. Hard to say.

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