The Eye of the Storm

Even here, the world does not end

I woke before 5 this morning. Wednesday is a Fosamax morning. Last summer my doctor suggested I have a bone density scan, given my age and family history. Sure enough, the scan showed early signs of osteoporosis. So I began a weekly regimen. The instructions for taking the white pill are precise. Immediately upon waking, I must get up and remain upright for an hour before eating anything. I must take the pill and drink at least 8 oz. of water. Tuesday evening I make sure I have a full water bottle on my nightstand. I even cut the foil packet open the night before because my morning hands struggle to peel the backing away.

But before I took my pill and chugged the water, before I even sat up, I checked the weather on my phone. The rain that was predicted wouldn’t start until 6 a.m. Still foggy from staying up late reading, I pulled on clothes, grabbed my raincoat, and headed out.

A sudden wind came up. I checked the sky. Pale and dull, I noticed large areas to the south and west that looked like they were smeared with smoke. A few drops of rain dotted the sidewalk, but I was under the canopy of trees.

I have walked my neighborhood thousands of times over the 33 years I’ve lived here, mostly with a dog, now without. On instinct, I adjusted my route. The storm was coming fast, and I didn’t want to venture too far. I decided to walk a circle so I was never more than three blocks from home.

I kept checking the sky. The patches of dark had become one solid mass. The wind tugged at my hood. Down an alley, crossing a street, whenever I ventured into the open, rain hit me. The air became rich with smells the rain was stirring up. Through it all, the birds kept up their morning chorus.

The night before, my writers’ group had a public reading. Ten of us shared an excerpt from a current project. Some of us are working on memoirs. One read a chapter from her mystery; two others have essays in progress.

Our conversations before we took our turn at the podium revealed a general nervousness. We were all sharing our particular piece for the first time. By the end of the evening, though, our nervousness had given way to relief, even giddiness. The world had not ended. People had not stood up and left.

Me, I felt pride. Not the full-of-yourself boasting my mother warned against. The patriotic kind. I was proud to stand among other writers whose work it is to give voice to the dark and subtle and all-too-familiar places of the heart.

Every day writers walk into the eye of the storm, I realized, as I circumnavigated my neighborhood in the now steady rain. Last night we shared the hard, bittersweet stories from our lives, stories that won’t let us go.

Writers value the truth and pursue it, even when it hurts. They bravely come to their desk or chair or favorite coffee shop day after day, even when it feels impossible. We sing in spite of danger. We do it because we know where writing takes us, if it’s worth anything. To the eye of the storm, to the bloody center, where our craft demands that we throw every reservation to the wind and risk it all.

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