Revising Myself on a Writer’s Retreat

Bean Hollow State Beach

The stones and shell already crowded my pocket by the time I saw the sign forbidding it.

Rock for the boy, shell for the girl

But it didn’t matter.  This was my renegade week.  There were 13 women back at the cabin to prove it.  All of us had wandered away from life to wonder a while with words. And each other.

I hadn’t really wandered.  I had flown away to be with them.  In community.  But here I stood, alone on the beach, with purloined rocks and one shell.

I was a mere shadow of myself, wondering where I had disappeared to.

A mere shadow of myself

I wasn’t surprised.  His disease had been erasing me slowly for years.  Yet, it was a shock to see the process almost complete. I had thought there was more of me left.

I put the stones in my pocket to weigh me down.  To keep me from floating away on the wind.  I would take the small stone and shell home with me in a few days, one for each child.

The other stone was for Shanna.  Because I had her truck and thought she needed a tangible reminder that this week was ours.  A smooth polished black pebble, with a thin white vein, to remind us that the hard is necessary to see the light.

As if we needed reminding.  I should have grabbed a pebble for everyone in the cabin.  We had all lived that lesson in some form, it’s part of what connected us.  But I couldn’t leave with thirteen illegal pebbles.  I’m not that much of a renegade.

Yet.

Cairn for Sarah

I wanted to bring one for Sarah.  Since, when the numbness finally wore off, she hugged me and made me cry on purpose, and she poured me a shot instead of hitting me, and because she listened to Graceland in the kitchen while cooking.  But, I didn’t want to trivialize this with a thing.  Instead, I stacked a cairn for her and added the weight of the view to the stones already in my pocket.

I felt myself fill.

Ring my Bell

And when I got back to the cabin, I grew fuller.  Not because I wrote- I didn’t- but because I read these women’s words.  And laughed at their jokes, and cried at their losses, and railed against their pain.  I breathed in the glee of their delight as if we had all just received word of a newborn nephew. And I meditated with their voice until I could feel every disparate part of my body connect, and I was substantial again.

 

Filled

Until intimacy and inside jokes overfilled my pockets and gold filled the cracks in my chest.

 

(c) 2017 Gigi Quinn


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