I’m still here. Just in case you were wondering.
I’ve had a few really touching messages from people over the past few weeks who were so kind to say that they missed my posts. I miss my posts as well. I got into such a groove of getting something out there weekly; it really felt good to continuously be writing. The writing has not stopped! It’s just been different. I thought I’d take a minute to check in and let you know what I’ve been up to in the New Year!
I started a writer’s workshop three weeks ago. A half hour before the first class, a Tuesday night after work, found me hiding out in the children’s section of the bookstore where the class was held. There were other writers who had arrived early as well–they chatted with each other, casually offering their reviews of each bestseller the other was thumbing through. I sat around the corner on the big red bench, next to a small set of blocks, my head stirring in the irony that I felt exactly like I had on my first day of kindergarten.
After ten minutes I could hear the others headed down into the basement, so I followed. They all looked normal enough–but they sounded just as I’d feared. Smart. Intellectual. Well-read. I’ll give myself smart–but not the other two. The teacher had assigned us two different essays to read and write critiques on. I took out my green plastic folder, my owl notebook (it’s a notebook with an owl on it), a pink highlighter, and a black pen, and sat in silence as I waited for the rest of the group to filter in.
I fully planned on continuing my silence throughout the class; I wanted to feel everyone and everything out before I started to participate. Then of course the teacher asked us to go around the room and introduce ourselves–oh, and name just a few of the creative non-fiction writers that inspired us. Just a few. Easy Peasy. Right.
I was fifth to go. One, two, three, and four rattled off authors. “Oh I just loved her collection of essays on growing up in West Africa.” And, “One of my favorite writers, who is most often published in the journal of blah blah blah.” Heads nodding. One still.
It’s finally my turn. First, it takes all the control I can muster to say “I’m Cat,” and stop there. I’m sitting around a circle in a basement on a Tuesday night; the habit to continue with “I’m an alcoholic” has to be strangled from my tongue. I don’t bullshit them. I admit I don’t read that often. For shame! I confide that it’s very possible I’m in the wrong place. They all laugh.
One time I had to give a speech to a few hundred people. I was so terrified that a half hour before I came very close to vomiting. I got up on the stage. I started to talk. People started to laugh. After what seemed like a few minutes, a person in the front row was motioning to me that my hour was almost up. Ba dum tss.
Since kindergarten I’ve always sat in the back, but then anxiously raised my hand to answer the first question. If I knew the answer.
I don’t know that I knew any answers on this first Tuesday night at the bookstore in Brooklyn. But I was in the discussion. I had to stop myself from jumping in and talking over the soft spoken Korean girl sitting directly to my right. I loved one of the essays. I hated the other. The girl who I had decided was the “smartest” in the class loved the essay I hated. Hmm.
The class ends and I walk up the stairs and out the door into the single digit weather. It’s 930pm. On a normal Tuesday night at this time, I’d be flipping on the first of many episodes of Seinfeld and putting the hurt on some Words with Friends partner who keeps nudging me. Why is she so anxious to lose?
Instead I begin the 12 minute walk home. The class is actually on the same street as my apartment. Only it’s not called the same street. It’s name changes after about 7 minutes.
I think I might make it home in 11 minutes. I’m exhilarated. I am sure a new chapter in my life has just begun. I walk faster. There’s a skip. I almost run. Then somehow my stomach reaches up and pulls the back of my jacket back. Stop. I haven’t eaten dinner. I look to my left. Dos Toros. Chipotle minus the norovirus. Yes.
Steak bowl in hand, I continue my journey. My husband calls to walk me the rest of the way home. I talk over him like I did the Korean. I’m too excited. I tell him that everyone in the class is smarter than me. I tell him that I didn’t know any of the authors they were talking about. I tell him that there were writers there that had actually published books. I tell him that there were moments I knew I was totally out of my league.
I’m finally in our building. I wave hello to the doorman, Jose, and continue around the corner to wait for the elevator. I want to take him up each floor with me, but he declines. “I’ll see you in a second, I love you.” Fine.
L–1–2–3–4. Why do we live on the 20th floor? I stare at the switching red numbers and think, this has to add at least 45 seconds to my commute every day. I untie my shoelaces so I can flip my Bean Boots onto the shoe rack the second I open the door. Timesavers make me fist-pump. 20. Finally.
I’m ready to transcribe the rest of my evening to him, word for word. I place the key in the bottom lock. I lock the top lock too when I am home alone. He doesn’t. I push open the door. He is sitting on the sofa with his eyes on the TV, his hand stretched out lovingly towards me. “How’d it go love? The Knicks are up by 5.” I kick off the boots. I hang up my coat. I start to unhook my bra and pull it through the bottom of my shirt. I stare at him. Arm still stretched towards me. Eyes still on the TV. I adore him.
“It went well my love, I am in the exact right place,” I tell him. Then I scooch his butt over on the sofa with mine. “How much time is left?”