On December 18, 2013 I saw a post from Nici Holt Cline from Dig this Chick and Kelle Hampton of Enjoying the Small Things. It was an announcement about Write Doe Bay 2014 and they would be presenting and attending in April. Something inside my heart flickered. It spoke to me, but I tried to ignore it. Kelle's post pushed me over the edge. I waited a day. Claire Bidwell Smith wrote The Rules of Inheritance, a book that felt like an oasis after my mom died. She would also be presenting. I kept pulling up the website and looking-looking-looking. Looking for something to take the pain away. To take away the feeling of just sleep walking through life. To take away the feeling of all this grief crushing my spirit.
Write Doe Bay was founded by these two amazing gals: Jesse Michener and Jen Furber. Little did I know how much these woman would come to mean to me in my life. That what they created could mean so much to so many.
The Doe Bay website kept beckoning me. It was all I could think about. I pictured myself on a ferry by myself, wind in my hair, being brave. Finally I just pushed the button to purchase the ticket. And it was like sweet relief. I had checked to see if I could get a frequent flier mile airline ticket before I pushed "purchase" because I'm thrifty like that. And it would be easier to tell my husband. To which I did not tell him for two weeks. I just wanted it to be a special rock that I held in my hand. My secret. I did tell my sister and a few girlfriends. Each and every time I told someone I broke down in sobs. I would say "I don't know why I'm crying." But I knew exactly why I was crying.
I was scared and excited and questioned if I was even really a writer. This blog, this space where I come to release and further myself, it was left alone for so long. I couldn't even pull it up and bear to look at the fall leaves decorating the space.....long ago dried and brown and fallen to the ground.
Attending Doe Bay was all that I needed and more. The funny thing is, it wasn't even about writing. Sure, it was, but it was so much more. It was a day of travel: 2 cars, 3 shuttle buses, 1 airplane and 1 ferry. It was waking up at 3:00 in the morning and not being able to fall asleep because you just want the journey to begin. It was turning on the radio at 5:30 in the morning and hearing your mother speak to you through a song. (This too shall pass by Tyler Stenson) I cried. I cried while packing and picked up Claire's book and opened to a random page like it was my instruction sheet. "I'm no body's most important person." (Claire Bidwell Smith)
Traveling alone always makes me feel more capable. Smarter and more confident than I give myself credit for. My husband said, "You flew to Turkey alone, why would this scare you?" Oh, really it was easier to go to Turkey! Three airplanes and a driver waiting with a card with my name on it, an air conditioned car and a bottle of cold water. I always wanted to be one of those people I see in airports, traveling alone, drinking a beer before my flight. I am one of those people.
I was craving this adventure. I needed this adventure. Laundry and unloading the dishwasher, cooking and cleaning and raising these creatures to grow up to be kind. If I want to show them how to appreciate the world......to see all those little things like puffy clouds shaped like dinosaurs or tiny red bugs crawling on fresh grass....then I need to go out and refill this vessel called Mom. Momma's well has run dry my precious babes.
While on the ferry I kept looking around wondering who was possibly going to Doe Bay. Is it her? Is it that guy over there with the really big hair? (Luke) Is it that red-headed woman with her laptop open, crying? (Angi) She doesn't have a suitcase. Can't be her. Is it the guy playing the ukulele?
Angi approached me and asked if I was going to Doe Bay. Hell yeah. Game on. First friend. Let's do this. We rode to the resort in silence mixed with nervous chatter about our lives. About how we weren't really writers, did I have a blog? Sure do, a sad space that I've abandoned a year ago and in abandoning that space I was suffering so much.
My writing juices were already flowing. I've written more on the journey to Doe Bay than I've written in months. The juice tastes sweet in my mouth as it moves over my tongue and teeth.
Pulling my carry on suitcase up the gravel road to Cabin Padma, breathing in the clean air...I felt electrified.
Whatever is about to happen is going to be exactly how it is supposed to be. No forcing. I felt the unraveling of leaving the kids, the grief in my heart, my expectations and fears. Let it unravel into a pile of used up yarn. Yarn that will be knit into a new story.
This is my story. Only I can tell it.
"God damn girl your wounds are beautiful" ~Daniel Blue, God Damn Girl, Motopony
Only a few days prior to leaving for Doe Bay my girlfriend cut my hair. I had colored it a few weeks ago as well. It was brassy and orange and the dark roots were already showing. It was a pain to put a wig on over the top of all this hair. All this hair. Just to look in the mirror and see hair in all the right spots. Could I really ditch the wig? That godforsaken hat of hair that I put on my head everyday. Even before walking to the bus stop. I don't wear it when I go running. But I feel like every neighbor is looking out the window to see my lack of hair. "I really think you could pull it off Tricia," Ashley said. "A little color and you are good to go!"
In May of 2013 I took my daughter to a local wig shop to help me pick out a wig. I couldn't cover up the huge patches of space where hair used to reside or the bald spots any longer. I was weary from all the effort it took to leave the house. I was so sick of talking about my hair. I was about to depart for Turkey. I couldn't pretend anymore. This shit was real. Was it my thyroid again? Shock after mom died? Alopecia? Whatever it was, I couldn't do it anymore. The wig was like a thick coat of cool aloe vera on my sunburn. I felt normal again. I felt pretty. kinda. I was renewed and restored....momentarily.
"Hold on, just hold on" ~Daniel Blue, June, Motopony
And just like that I got on a plane to go to Doe Bay without wearing my wig.
"You say it like it's easy to do" ~Daniel Blue, Waif for Me, Motopony
I couldn't have written this story any better. This is the movie version. It was the end of one story, the beginning of another. Wearing the wig made me feel like I was carrying around a secret. A lie. Always paranoid that people knew or could see right through me. But it was also protection in another way. I was hiding behind this fake hair. It was a lifeline. And now, here I am...all forehead and big eyes. Nowhere to hide. It's me! Hello! A bit patchy on the right side so as not to let myself get too comfortable. A small reminder of where I've been. Don't get too excited it says. This could happen all over again because there is no medical explanation.
Lean into the fear.
I have returned from Doe Bay alive to life. I got on an airplane to return home and re-read Claire's book and wrote and wrote wrote. It poured out of me like I was letting go and coming home all in one. Re-entry into the world hasn't been easy. Over tired, laundry and a house left with two kids and one man equals me wanting to run away. Return to the sanctuary I found at Doe Bay. Where chicken coops and organic gardens greet me on the walk to the cabin. Where the safety zone of fellow writers embraces and protects me.
I can't watch T.V. or listen to music unless it's Daniel's CD on repeat. I am carrying my journal around with me like it's an oxygen tank. I stop and pause and write the thought down. I can't begin to explain this to others. All I want to do is write. I am making space for my craft. This is who I am. This is what I do. I am merely manifesting ME.
"I want to feel good too" Daniel Blue, Euphoria, Motopony
But this is what I've learned: I can create that space anywhere I go in this world because it is within me. I am that space. I can write when my heart isn't broken down and battered. I am a writer. I am not alone. I will never be alone. I don't need to apologize.
I just wish this feeling on everyone.
I just wish this feeling on everyone.
"But how much more do you need to see Before you can believe" Daniel Blue, Wake Up, Motopony
I have a new plan for this blog space. What I see here no longer fits me. I have emerged. But to honor the past I haven't touched a thing and posted this here. My book idea is forming and shaping and growing. The spirit dwells inside me and she hand feeds me ideas like she's popping grapes into my mouth one by one.
I have tasted the magic elixir of life.
It is me.