I WRITE BECAUSE
I write to remember the obese old man I saw at the coffee shop who took up a four seat table with opened books and a grande coffee and his computer which was playing World War Two footage that he listened to with orange headphones. He seemed as much a fixture there in the middle of the room as the espresso maker that could simultaneously make a latte and cappuccino, an americano and a decaf. I write because he had on a blue baseball cap that said “Bite Me,” on the back part where the velcro binds and at first I flashed on pork rinds that they sell on the bottom rack at the gas station and a Hawaiian luau where a pig is cooked in the ground. I wish I had seen the front of the cap to put the command in context, but I am also thankful I did not, because I was left wondering how long it had been since he had been bitten or kissed or fucked.
I write to tell the world that you should hang your clothes on a line on summer afternoons, not to save money, but because the light and breezes transform them into prayer flags and to mention you should buy blouses in ivory. Three of them, one with buttons for the past, another with lace for the present and one with ribbons for the future. And dresses in the colors of garden flowers, even if you’ll never wear them because you don’t get out of your yoga pants, but because it will bring you pleasure to touch a rainbow of cloth in your closet.
I write because I always think of the perfect thing to say afterwards, the kinder response, the more gentle, careful explanation, because I forget to tell people how beautiful they are and I can’t stop staring at their lips or I want to stick my tongue in the space between their bicuspid and molar, the very space they probably think they should have fixed. I write because I don’t join committees or volunteer to be on boards, because I don’t follow politics, but I care deeply, I want to make a difference in someone’s life, to mostly say I have been there, I saw and felt you.
I write because I can’t let go of something, it won’t let go of me, words circle and yip, they carouse like coyotes on an August evening and sometimes swoop like barn swallows and every so often (if I am luckiest), they appear as an owl once did in the winter when I was driving home with two of my sons over a bridge which is suspended over salt water, the owl (breast, talon and wing) was snow white in the brights of my headlights.
I write because it both saved and created me, allowed and held me, three decades of succor. Because writing goads me on to reach for the Word, to reach for the World.