Tuesday, December 06, 2005

the sign we've all been waiting for

film still from Toys (1992)
Every store on the main street is dripping with lights. My favorite Christmas song plays in the bookstore while I'm shopping for presents, the one that begins:

If I cannot bring you comfort, then at least I bring you home.

I love the winter holidays, and what they bring after: a new year, and what is brought after: my birthday, my new year, and this is my year. I am ready. I am ready to start a new project, but I am still waiting for the go-ahead to let go of my first two, let go of my poetry collection, let go of my novel.

What am I waiting for?

Some kind of yes. I get little yeses all the time, but I'm ready for more. I'm afraid of closed desk drawers, of the manuscripts that languish there. Some of my friends have those drawers. The drawers in my house stay open. So do the doors and windows. Just in case someone wants to come in.

I decided yesterday to start research. I will read to get ready for my new book while the first one is rising, being read, edited, in its warm corner by the stove, covered by a checked dish cloth. I remember the day I figured out the call numbers in the library, my freshman year of college. A new language. A language that would help me live.

I'm trying this new thing: when I get confused or scared or start to panic, I don't stop. I take my time. I ask for help. I found the tea shop that way, and a beautiful present for a friend. I found the highway, the ginger root, the M books. When I turned the first page, a bunch of photographs fell out. They frightened me. They showed a thin-browed boy in stage makeup: as an old man, the first one. In the photograph on top, as a devil. They showed the progression. The book had not been checked out for two years.

I will take the photographs as a sign. I will take the random pages I turned to, the words that jumped out at me, as a sign. I will take the thrill rising in me, the excitement, the ideas, the landscape, the fear, the fear, and especially the fear, as a sign.

Oh, I love my first child, and my second, but in my family, the third one is the charmed one, the genius child, the boy.

Here we go again. I won't stop.

The little girl who was “it” in the duck-duck-goose game at the preschool next door to the library where I work, smiled at me through the window, waved as she skipped around the circle, might have tagged me. I feel tagged. I feel like “it.”

I'm going to run. I'm going to catch everyone. I won't stop until someone says yes when I tap their arm, yes when we fall back into the long grass, yes when we come to home, which is the front porch or the mailbox or the pond.

And what I was waiting for, happened. The crepes baker at the small café where I have lunch, stopped me as I paid for my usual pot of green tea, crepe with onions and tomatoes and spinach, said: What is your name? I see you all the time. You work so hard. Tell me. Tell me. What is your name?