Dan said that to me back in April 2006. I was probably complaining about my lack of passion/creativity/accomplishments. I was sitting on our bed in Brooklyn typing on this same computer. And this is what I wrote back then:
“Write, write,” he says.
I couldn’t fall asleep last night. I lay, sweating, in pants and shirt that were too warm for the impending spring weather, thoughts streaming through my mind like picture videos complete with soundtracks that matched their melancholic mood. I scripted the reel in my mind, “I am terrified,” was the line I began with. I lay like that for hours it seemed, in that milieu of dread and wonderment.
I am approaching my 31st year…turning 30 in less than 30 days. I was thinking about having a baby- carrying a baby inside my body. I was almost in tears thinking about this longing that has sprung up in me the last six months before I could even expect it or welcome it.
I heard the 3 day old baby girl of the family who lives downstairs crying right after he fell asleep. Her cry almost does not sound human- she is so new to the species. It reminds me of a cat- but I am drawn to the sound…so new and fresh- otherworldly, and quiet. The presence of a newborn baby evokes this quiet sense, even though they cry, their cry is soft and far away, muffled like it’s coming from another world. When you enter the room where a dead person lies, like a funeral, there is always that sense of quiet and irrevocable stillness that is the presence of death- it is a presence you can feel. Well, I find that the newborn baby evokes a similar presence that one feels…that sets it apart from the day to day of ordinary life. you don’t really feel it just walking down the street, drinking coffee, maybe hearing church bells as I am right now. I love to mark the time with church bells…ringing in the hours- so much more beautiful than the numbers on a digital clock- to tell time audibly is much better than visually. Because time is invisible really. But getting back to that baby- there is that presence- like I said it reminds me of the presence at a funeral that is death…but what it is, what it is, is life. The presence of life in its pureness, the presence of something so new and so otherly.
If you’re wondering why there is a baby in my house it is because we live in the 4th floor apartment of a brownstone in Brooklyn along with a family that owns that brownstone and lives in the rest of it. We knew them and they bought it and asked us if we wanted to rent from them. There’s little privacy but it’s a better place than we could afford otherwise so we live here now- in a 4th floor apartment of a brownstone in Brooklyn on St. Johns Place- right across from a beautiful old church that I read was called “the church on the hill” when it was built sometime back in the 19th century when this was all green hills and not tall brownstones.
I heard her cry not long after he fell asleep and I felt that longing rise up…I almost cried but instead I continued my thoughts- my script inside my head- “I’m terrified”. What was I terrified of? I don’t know. Usually it is death though. When I am terrified it usually means I am thinking about my life and things not going right or the way I would wish them to and the only really “terrifying” thing about that would have to be death- the fact that I’m messing up something that is so short-lived and that there are no second chances.
It is sunny and beautiful this late afternoon. And it will stay so until at least an hour later than usual. It is Daylight Saving Time now- the clocks sprung forward at exactly 2 am last night while I was thinking “I’m terrified.” Maybe that’s what it had to do with after all- maybe I couldn’t sleep because it just wasn’t my bedtime. But who is it that decides when the time will change anyway? And why such an arbitrary time as 2 am in the morning on april 1st. I heard something on the news this morning about the President changing the date to March 11th next year to begin it all a little bit early. So, I suppose it’s the President who decides what time it will be.
I have a mental clock that keeps time quite well and maybe that’s why I am a bit thrown off mentally. I usually can tell you what time it is to the minute at any given time without a watch- mine broke about 6 months ago and I haven’t had it fixed yet. I think there’s something in me though, keeping time, even when I’m sleeping- always keeping time. I’ll awaken at 6:57 if my alarm is set to go off at 6:58 in the morning- just enough time to keep me from being startled by that rude sounding noise.
“Write…just start writing,” was what he said.