It’s true I’ve been thinking about the book. My first, and newly published one. An offering of a year’s chronicles of prose, poetry and photography through a time when I was raising my son on my own, trying to find inspiration as a woman, mother and artist.
Now that it’s out in the world – those words all collected and compact – the stories simmer, potent, in one spot. They steam in the ether. Find their way to me and swirl around.
Releasing them as as a book is the revisiting of an era. A time, that now, is just a helium ballon left over from last week’s party. Where once it pressed against a bedroom ceiling, filled full to be freed into the yonder, it now barely brushes the floor, hovering and wrinkled. This ballon has served its purpose. New celebrations await, with fresh party favors to be had.
So this weekend was the insertion of the needle into the lingering balloon (and when they’re in this state, sometimes it’s no easy pop, more like a strong insertion). The remaining, stale air from that party-of-the-past came falling out in a final deflation.
Not to say my book is a dead balloon. Actually, it’s been more like a hot-air balloon ride lifting me to new perspectives. And that’s the beauty (and challenge) of setting stories free. In my experience, part of the power of telling the tale is letting it go. Once words hit air, they drift from our safe-keeping. Stories shared with others take on new forms, released from our control.
It is in the early dark of my house this morning, when all of this is considered. I’m going through my little ritual. The sun is not yet risen. As usual, my son and husband are still sleeping. Moodah the dog, follows me, room by room, with clicking toenails on the wood floor. I am burning incense, listening to the airy hum of the propane flame against my stovetop espresso maker. And then, all goes silent.
Funny, just last night I wondered how much longer our propane tank would last. We’re subletting this current home, so I’m still learning about the inner workings of our practical infrastructure. I know we have two tanks under the house, with the convenient rigging of a system that allows you to flip a switch to the back-up tank when you run out.
This was pointed out to both the Bohemian and I by the homeowner in our walk-through session before moving in. And I’ll admit it, I only halfway paid attention. Why? Because the Bohemian was squatted there, looking more closely at the mechanisms, and I just decided to let him.
The truth is, in life before the Bohemian, I was taking note of every detail and executing each necessity of home for Jeb and I. There was no husband, no man with which to defer. And there were plenty of broken down hot water heaters, faulty washing machines, and leaking pipes. I hauled propane tanks aplenty. This was an era. One that has since passed. And it is the one of which my book offers a snapshot. The one that’s been expelling the last bits of long-past, party air.
So this morning, I ponder my situation. I definitely want coffee. It is just too stereotypical-helpless-wife to wake the Bohemian and ask for a reminder on how to switch the tanks. I dig around my inner resources for gumption. It’s not too far away. Grab a flashlight and head outside.
The tanks are underneath the house, though no rats are encountered, no cobwebs even. The switch is in plain flashlight view. I make the flip with surprising ease, go inside and fire up the stove. Simple. Just that easy.
Well, then. I’ve still got it (resourcefulness and self-sufficiency, that is).
So, let there be flame, anew! Let there be fresh stories. More parties. Surprising gifts.
An upgrade, perhaps. From a single, helium floater to a hot-air balloon ride, revealing fantastic views.