I realized something. The more I fear not writing, and express that fear by writing it down, the closer I am to becoming a writer, the writer I know I am, the writer I have always known I am. Reading this line back sounds good to me but kind of braggy. Fuck it. Really. It’s about time. I can remember being maybe 11, maybe 7! And thinking, “I am a writer.” I never said it to anyone else. I mean how would I draw that when an adult asked me to draw what I wanted to be when I grow up? Just draw a person with a pencil? Boring! But I knew. And I didn’t really want to be anything else.
Maybe it was the Clifford The Big Red Dog stories we had to write in my second grade class. Miss Willrich was what we might now call “out of the box.” She worked her magic by having us write stories and illustrate them, making them on construction paper and then putting a flat silver thumbtack in the upper left hand corner to attach them to the cork strip on the yellow cinder-block wall of the classroom, near the reading corner so that we could pull them down and read each other’s work just like any other book in our class library. So cool! We were authors! Artists!
I don’t think Miss Willrich was ever in a box. She would teach us some words in Spanish because she would go to Mexico each summer to learn the language. She wore ballet shoes to school and sometimes was barefoot in class. She wore loose cotton, silky or polyester clothing and was somewhat athletic but she didn’t go to a gym and didn’t worry about dieting. She had longish blonde hair, no dye, that she did not curl nor style nor even blown dry, I think. She painted her nails orange most of the time. It was her favorite color. She was not cheery, though she had a great sense of humor. She was not trying to be the perfect teacher, she just was. She was her 70’s self, not trying to be anything else. She did not seem worried about what men thought of her, nor how she thought she should act in front of them. She was not boxed in. She did not seem stressed about what standards each person should be reaching for or what role to play. To me, she felt like Sesame Street in person, a person in my neighborhood. I liked that. Seeing an authentic person doing their job as their authentic self is a rare thing, two rare things rather.
I feel lucky to have seen both with her. I wish I knew how to do that for myself. With this memory, I will try. I will try to be the writer I am, the writer I have always known myself to be. I will give myself the chance to show my authentic self, doing the job I feel called to do, as authentically me. I think this could be a good gift to me, a model I hope for my children to feel and to try on for themselves. I open myself to the road before me, to the tools and support I find on this path, the chance to walk with my fear, to the sun, to the moon, to my soul.