The year I turned seven, my parents’ divorce became final, my tee ball team won the league championship, Bush Sr. beat Dukakis and I woke up one morning without a voice. Literally.
I ran into my father’s room straining for the words to ask what was happening. I climbed on the bed, onto his chest, leaned over his sleeping face and screamed silently. For three minutes I didn’t exist.
My father eventually woke up, hugged me tight, moved to Oklahoma, then Los Angeles, started a new family, had another little girl. I drank warm cups of salt water, regained my voice, moved to Raleigh, Dallas, Norman, Redding, San Francisco. I rarely cried, ate my feelings, stopped going home for holidays, moved constantly. I screamed silently onto the page. I screamed in diaries, the margins of books, web blogs, on newsprint and computer screens.
I said that I wanted to leave something behind, make a mark on the world. I said that I wanted to communicate, to unlock that deep-seeded interiority. I said that I wanted to express myself. But really, the reason that I write is that I can’t not write. I don’t wake up every morning thinking that I have to write to get through the day. I get through plenty of days without writing. And as far as I may swing the pendulum in the opposite direction, to say, more fiscally responsible career paths, I’m always drawn back here, to the page.
I can’t not write because I can’t not write. My self has become too hopelessly intertwined. Brain to pen. Mouth to keys. True, I love language. I love the way it sounds almost more than rainstorms. That soft pitter patter of colors, tastes, experiences. A word is worth a thousand pictures. Find your thesaurus, put it to work.
Maybe I’m writing to prove I exist. Maybe I’m writing to say something. And maybe I’m writing because I can’t not say something. Either way, I don’t want to move through this world on my knees, shaking shoulders, hoping for a voice.