I don’t always claim to know what I’m doing. I don’t. I’m a dreamer, a pure Sagittarius (and yes I think that’s important), a thinker. I admit. I lose my way. I can’t follow a plan. I am easily distracted by the intoxicating beauty of rhubarb leaves, punchy high pitched horn lines, and the sway of birch trees in the wind, suspended in the magic of their glorious fall transitions from green to gold.
But it’s been happening a lot lately. The other morning, I jumped in the shower with my husband. Really, the vessel is too small for both of us and a jump-in rarely happens, but I like when it does. The kids were watching Curious George, and I had a minute, maybe two. I grabbed a big green bottle and loudly squeezed the gel on my hand. He started laughing.
“Do you always do that?” he began.
“What?” I questioned.
“Wash your hair with conditioner?”
I stopped and giggled when I realized that this happened last night too, except we were at the bathroom sink. I was perpetually not paying attention.
“You’re doing it again.” He said, accusingly.
“Doing what?” I asked.
“Using my toothbrush.”
Whoops. I did’t even notice.
How am I supposed to remember what my toothbrush looks like from day to day, especially when it’s so often changed in the name of “public health”? I have a daughter with two toothbrushes, and now a toddler with one (which i’m sure would prevent a lot of cavities if he didn’t brush his hair with it), his and mine. My toothbrush cup overflows.
And I admit. I lose track. He throws me off guard when he asks, “What are you thinking?”
Something funny has started happening to me since I’ve begun writing full time. I live completely in my head, extending my week into one long metaphor, my perception jagging in every which direction as I shift the angles for a better view on the page, something more interior, something deepened. I don’t notice where i am in space, that’s too unimportant. I’m thinking about something else. Something major. I’m thinking of the story of my life, that’s all, my story.
The story of my life.
I had a prompt. This summer, I had the pleasure of interviewing my friend, David Weale, the famous PEI author, for a review I was doing of the play he co-wrote with Colin Buchanan called Story (Read that review here). At one point, David turned the tables on me and asked,
“Mo, what’s your story? What will you be remembered for?”
I’m still not totally over the question, and each day as I plug away at my computer on endings and beginnings and passages through things, I’m thinking about it. And also in the shower, when i’m washing my hair with conditioner, and when i’m using my husband’s toothbrush, and when i’m burning the kids’ toast, and when i’m feeding cat food to the dog, ignoring phone calls or otherwise.
Storytelling has long been a high art form, and it’s slowly making me question my place in the world, the words i leave behind and the stories I craft- right now – my essays, my poems, and the travel memoir that I am working on that will tip the scales at 250 pages (not to mention which will become my Creative Thesis for my MFA!)
My tiny inner voice wonders why or if I deserve to be different from anybody else, coupled with the steady stream of rejection letters that seem to put the nails in the coffin. But another voice tells me to persevere, to keep submitting, and to honour that creative process, the drive to create a more succinct, bolder voice, one that will grow, become refined, become assured.
But there’s still the toothbrush thing. So when I think of my teeth, I think Orange, Orange, Orange. The story of your life is Orange.
Maybe that will do for now.