Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Not Story-Time Tuesday

Man oh man oh man oh man.

I'm struggling here.

I wrote another post with a part of a chapter of a very dark memoir I've been writing and I must have pulled it a dozen times.

I wrote an explanation of darker writing and this is what I wrote:

My friends.

Pearl is not talking to me of late. I don’t know if it’s been these long weeks of feeling ill, but her voice is silent and so I cannot continue her tale.

I have other stories that want to be told, though, and other books I am in the process of writing. They are dark stories. Not always stories with a happy ending. And I am debating with myself whether the generally happy atmosphere of my blog is a place to even tell them. I had originally planned to start a separate blog called ‘The Dark Side of the Stars’ as a place these stories could reside. The more I think of that idea the more afraid I am to create a place which is only about the darkness. I am afraid that if I write only dark things for some time I will be unable to find my way back to the joy that I strive to surround myself with each day.

I read it to Mr. Jenny along with the intro and paragraphs of the writing and he said to post it.

But I'm absolutely, totally torn on whether this is the right venue to share something so dark on.


I didn't.

I have it sitting on my blog as a draft and since I'm still torn I decided to just cop out and post a little story I wrote some years back...since it is, technically, story-time Tuesday.

If you're feeling in a slightly guinea pig-like mood, e-mail me and I'll send you the post. (jennymatlock at cox dot net) You can let me know what you think.

In the interim, however, this is what I ended up with for Tuesday:


I wrote this several years ago so it is sort of cheating on my goal of writing every single day. But for some reason as my husband and I sat in our backyard watching the evening deepen and the light grow more golden I thought of this small house. The woman who lived there is now in a nursing home. She was such an interesting lady. A watercolor artist, a collector of sparse design, a woman of few words but of brilliant repartee. I wanted to buy this little farm when the family put it up for sale, but Arizona to Ohio is a long commute. And it was not feasible.

But now with Autumn reaching it's nostalgic fingers even to the deep Southwest I long for it. My imagined wishes ensconce me fireside tonight with a tall chair, a lovely cup of steaming, fragrant tea and a book laying face-down in my lap, unread.

Perhaps you would like to visit with me...

The light races across the cornfields, bristly and dormant and across a small copse of trees to reach the farmhouse. At the bottom of a small rise you see the house...small, white, simple. Time has been fairly kind to this small home, although some windowsills and porch angles seem to set slightly awry. Maybe there is a small sag to the roof as well, but this is not important.

Grass, scrubby bushes and dormant flower beds surround the house and speckle the lawn here and there with texture and density. Once vibrant leaves drift together and if you walk across the lawn your feet will crackle and crunch against their fragile crispness releasing a faint nostalgic scent to curl around you. It is the fragrance of seasons...the smell of childhoods lost and the passage of time.

Just stand for a moment. Look around. See the texture of the old weathered barn boards. They are the warm earth-brown of seasoned dry wood. The grain is raised and patterned and if you had the time you could make small studies of the individualities of each board. On the shaded side of the barn the wood is almost black. No sunlight highlights the textures but you know they are there. The barn smells comfortably of old straw and machine oil.

Look further. The slight wooded hills contain treasure. Beneath the sculpture of bare, interlocking tree branches, nestled beneath the earth and resting in the loamy, rich soil lies thousands of bulbs. Planted and nurtured through the years by hands aged with sun and wind, they await cold, harsh days and the eventual awakening of warm spring. Soon, very soon, their vibrant green stems will support a multitude of swaying yellow, white and gold blossoms. A veritable fountain of gold beneath spring budding trees. But for now we can only imagine. For now we can only have faith and wait on their return.

Scattered here and there around this simple, white home are further treasures. A weathered fence section, sculptural in its simplicity. A slightly sad playhouse with no children and no warm weather to entertain it on this late autumn day. Deeply worn paths where the packed dirt bears witness to all the footsteps that have passed there before yours. Over behind you lies the remains of a hopeful summer garden, fallow now and not completely harvested with dull oranges, greens and reds of old, fading vegetables creating a tapestry of color on the dormant earth. And there, that ancient, gnarled apple tree. Do you suppose it is as covered in fluffy, fragrant white each spring as a hopeful new bride?

The light slants lower now. Let us return to the house. We know that the warm, buttery sunlight will soon end for this season and then the harsh, brittle light of winter will surround us and encourage us to stay inside ... warm, by the fire.

But let's not go in quite yet. We'll linger for a moment on the porch steps and take one last deep breath of this perfect day. The doorknob is cold and smooth under your hand. It turns easily but it is not so easy to go inside. The pure, dark blue of the sky, the low, fluffy lavender clouds, the hills rolling in the distance to infinity all implore you to wait. To remain a few moments longer just to imprint this perfection on your memory. Can you? Do you suppose you can always remember the twist and turn of that particular apple branch silhouetted so clearly against that particular shade of sky? Can you imprint forever the scent and feel of this exact second?

Yes, it’s possible. If you close your eyes for a moment now and just breathe vignettes of other moments, other sunsets, other tiny remembrances will come to you. Everything you have seen, felt and experienced remains part of you just as this moment will become part of you.

Enough lingering. There is hot tea inside and maybe a perfect red apple picked only days ago from the tree outside the door. There are stacks of magazines and a little pile of cards and letters for you to smile over on the small table by your chair. Kindling and logs are stacked in the fireplace awaiting a match.

It is serene and quiet punctuated only by the predictable tick of the clock. The dust on the family picture frames probably needs attending to. Soon dinner will need some thought. Surely laundry awaits. But how can you care now? Those are simply the chores of life that need attention. But the rest of this, all the rest, this is the simply the best of life.

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Wanda..... said...

Gee, Ginny you brought tears to my eyes this morning. You've created one of those moments for me, a moment of deep appreciation for a talented friend, who thinks as I do! Trying at this point in life, not to miss a thing, no matter how small.

I have thought this line of yours often..."Can you imprint forever the scent and feel of this exact second?"
Wanda in Ohio!

Unknown said...

I love every word of this! I felt like I was on a visual journey.

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful writing; writing that uplifts and enlightens. I think you need to listen to your heart when it comes to dwelling in a dark place for too long, and what it can do to your soul. I see that you've already created the button. And I know that darkness is in vogue these days; it seems as if all of the young adult fiction is centered around vampires, underworld, etc. I think we are meant for light, not darkness. Be careful, sweet Jenny...

summersundays-jw said...

Beautiful -- as we've grown to expect from you. Jan

Julie Kwiatkowski Schuler said...

Wonderful descriptions! You return to the lost idyllic home often in your work, and every time it's a little more vivid.

Cheryl said...

This was simply beautiful.

I remember our 'conversations' about the Dark Side. I still think your original idea was good. Please send the piece to me & you know I'll be happy to read it and give you my honest opinion.

Be gentle with yourself.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for letting us share in your time together. I enjoyed my visit and look forward to smelling that machine oil again.

Ames said...

It was as though you were walking alongside me and pointing out the beauty, just as my father would when my grandmother came to visit. I followed you all the way inside,and it was lovely. Now just one thing...do you have any coffee instead?

Now, about that dark side business...so that's where you get that little evil mawahahahaha streak! What are you afraid of?? The darkness? Yourself?? Or what others will think??? You have to be yourself Jenny. There are many facets to writing. You are not what you write about, so show us your dark side. You are always encouraging us to write in different genre. So show us your dark side Jenny.

shannon i olson said...

beautiful imagery, makes me feel as if I am outside right there. I struggled with writing the dark stuff on my blog too. I did go ahead and open a new blog (pig tales) just because it felt like those who needed to would follow, those who cared would check in and God just might lead someone there over time. For those who like it light...they can stay on my main blog and never have to know. I think you should chose whatever will allow you the most freedom in your writing.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

You have a readership on this blog that comes here to read what you write, whatever that may be. I know how those dark sort of things can happen and I hope you will share them with us because we are all friends here and this is the place to share them! Not sure if I'm making sense or not, but whatever you decide just know we love you! Post away, we can handle it!!!!



Susan Anderson said...

I agree with RMW. I am interested in every part of you, Jenny Matlock.

And this post was like a guided meditation...lovely and lingering.


Jo said...

we all have a dark side ... some of us are just better at acknowledging it and allowing it outside to play ... I know that i scared myself when i wrote my first dark bit ... until a friend reminded me that i am in control ... so i encourage you, to express yourself be it with lightness, merriment, brooding, darkness ... just express yourself, and we will all be here on the journey with you. hugs, Jo

Viki said...

Maybe you need an autumn trip back to Ohio some year to get your fix.

Ms. A said...

I love everything you write and this is no exception! I will wait for Pearl to speak to you and... I'M NOT AFRAID OF THE DARK!

Leovi said...

The smell and feel can be printed, but only appear at key moments and special. We are not always able to see your ink.

Jayne Martin said...

This is really lovely, Jenny. I wish I had some advice for your writing dilemma. I hate it when the muse goes silent. As for the dark story, if it's badgering you to be written, I think you've got to write it. Then put it away for a few weeks, take it out and read it from a fresh perspective. I always find this enlightening. Don't pressure yourself to publish it. You may change your mind about that. Leave yourself open to possibilities.

Judie said...

Well, apparently you and I didn't know each other when I posted the dark side in a series of posts called The Road Home in June of 2010. If you had, you would know that putting it out for the world to see is very cleansing, very healing. I'm here to tell you to "just do it!!"


Judie said...

Oh, and by the way, the piece you posted IS SO LOVELY IT MADE ME CRY!!!

Pat Tillett said...

Hi Jenny, If it's in you and you want it out, I want to read it. I think I've posted more dark things about my life and family than most folks, so it doesn't bother me at all. We haven't all had a life that was all fairy tales and happyness. The darkness is just part of being human. I'll read what you post. If you want me to read it on the side, I can do that also. You are a brilliant writer and I'm sure the darkness will transfer to the page in an amazing manner. Whatever you choose, I'll read it...

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Jenny, whatever you write and where ever your muse take you it always is written so vividly. Life is a rollercoaster filled with ups and downs ..you take us along on your ride.

I am traveling again --California -- and it has felt like an endless summer. I look forward to autumn when I get home.

{{{ Hugs}}}

H said...

This was gently beautiful!

I'd be very interested to read your dark writing. Please do email some over!