Last night I sat up in my bed, my back against the blue wall that has a crack in it from the earthquake that shook our power out. It forced us to use candles as our 4 year old selves cuddled in our parents California King Size bed. My father’s feet still hang from the edges of this giant, but it is better than other options. Above the crack, a mounted inspirational quote, asking me what I am waiting for. Right now I have several different answers that sound more similar to excuses.
As my feet enjoyed the sensation of the soft cotton sheets that my legs built mountains out of, I read about a sand collector. The adventurous, yet habitual act of collecting sand from all over the world. It reminded me of the small piece of lava I keep tucked in my silver jewelry box. For many years these silver boxes were the popular gift from my grandmother, and so I have at least 3, and not enough jewelry to use them all. But I keep them, because they were thought to be special when I received them at 10 and 11 and 12 years of age.
I keep the lava. It was the first time I had prayed. I’m not sure who I was talking to as I sat on the edge of the volcano in a wind storm. But I told them, almost angrily, that I was too young to die. The anger turned to desperation, as I began begging for the wind to stop.
I had prayed before that Volcano in Iceland, but I never understood. I was told to pray when I heard sirens wizzing past my classroom windows in my Lutheran middle school. I was told to pray every morning, after we recited the pledge of allegiance, and in the afternoon after the last bell rang, indicating our freedom. I didn’t understand. On that blustery day, sitting in the mixture or red and black lava, I understood.
I haven’t prayed since, but I have no doubt it will happen again.
My eyes now wandering from the page about a sand collector to the silver box containing the praying lava, and down my desk shelves to my Christmas gift, a Hermes 3000 manual type writer. This gift was inspired by a young bleach blonde lady I had met at a craft fair.
I entered the second room of the fair that was generally used for roller derby practice, or weddings. It was a warehouse. Big. Spacious. Wide. Echoic. She was sitting at a small folding table in a small folding chair, as though trying to disappear and be present all at once. She reminded me of Alice in a Wonderland. A small sign hung from her miniature furniture. “Poetry Corner. Name your Subject and your Price.” Her typewriter sat on her table, it having the biggest presence, making the loudest noise as she chose her letters with authority. She would have it no other way. After all, writers write to be heard.
“I’d like a poem. “ I told Alice, hovering over her.
“Ok, what about?”
“I’d like a poem about dads.”
“Dads? Ok I can do that.”
She began shifting through the brown, cardboard index cards, in search of a blank one. She used her antique machine as though she were antique as well, understanding its old fashioned qualities completely. She began typing.
“Oh, should I stay here or come back?”
“Either way works.”
“I bet this is quite the challenge. Forcing words on any topic somebody throws your way.”
I walked away allowing her to do what she loves without distraction. I browsed the other booths. Jewelry makers, a man selling his old Nintendo gaming systems, Wallets made out of duct tape, corsets and hoop skirts. After ten minutes I found myself back with Alice in her world. I liked it better there.
“Ok this is what I wrote. ‘An Ode to Dad…’”
She read her moving, jumbled words. I was impressed. I wondered if I would have been enthralled if her words were mediocre. If she captivated me through her actions, and her words were simply a silver lining. And they were. They were beautiful. When she finished, she looked up at me.
As if seeing me for the first time
“I love your hair.”
“Thanks I like yours too.”
And I walked away.
And now my own antique sat on my desk. The entire day was spent hunting and pecking, and being open to a paper that would never find its way onto the internet. There was something magical in the ink that smudged my fingers when I replaced the ribbon. There was something real about it. Natural.