Well, it is a lovely, heart-swelling, blue-and-gold morning, and I am feeling distinctly introspective and nostalgic. Nostalgia for me, though -- not for any past time that I was never a part of, which is the shape my nostalgia usually takes. I am remembering the days of living alone in Northwest Industrial, and walking to Powell's Books several times a week, (and always on Sunday) and spending hours in a squeaky basket chair, reading, sipping hot tea, watching people, and writing. I would write letters, write in my journal that I carried with me everywhere I went, and write in the Coffee Room Book.
See, the woman who owned and ran the Coffee Room in Powell's Books would put a large blank book out on one or the other of the tables when she opened in the morning, and over the course of the day, it would get moved from table to table and people would write in it. Jot down their thoughts, draw little pictures, write angry diatribes to politicians, rhapsodize about the boy/girl they had a crush on, complain about their mothers or teachers or boyfriends, mourn the death of a husband or father or child.
This was a tremendously fulfilling thing for me. I had been writing for years, channeling most of it into letters (the year I was sixteen I had 21 pen-pals, can you believe it? And answered each letter immediately and vociferously) and a great deal of very poor poetry. I kept experimenting with all these different poetic styles, none of which bubbled up from my own heart -- if any poetry ever does...hmmm. (Note to Self: ponder this idea. Is all poetry derivative, since no one would think autonomously of rhyming words, would they? Or would they?)
In any case, this was not only a completely new and thrilling chance for me to polish and write mini-essays to the world, but an even newer and more thrilling chance for feedback from the world, as represented by the other Coffee Room Regulars.
And I got feedback, too. A lot of it negative and snotty, of course, we all know what "commenters" are like, don't we? The internet has certainly taught the world that. Haters gotta hate! But a lot of it positive and some of it valuable. Are you listening, Freak? I signed my work with the initial "B" and several other anonymous writer-types, most especially one who called himself "the Freak" would nearly always slip me an admiring, encouraging word. I remember one full page directed to me, but written there in the book for all to see, which made it even more moving and important in my young and silent life. The Freak was encouraging me to value the direct response I got to my writing, and to keep on letting the melancholy and loneliness (which, I'm sort of ashamed to say, made up a lot of my writing in those solitary days) dribble out onto the page and evaporate.
And then to continue writing, with the blues out of the way.
Sorry to say I have not followed your advice, Freak. Oh, I still write -- but mostly e-mails to loved ones and the occasional blog entry, thus. No books.
Not going to lose the happiness I brought with me today, though. Even if the memory is a bittersweet one, I plan to sip the sweet and discard the bitter.