Brewing…that’s what I’ve been doing since I read this piece by Candace Rose Rardon. When I was teaching, I’d periodically ask my students to go into something they’d written to look for other story “starts,” moments, ideas they’d included that could be lifted and brought into their own spotlight. Reading Rardon’s piece validated the worth of that for me. Even though I am not the author—I only wish I could write and DRAW with her craft—I can find lots of moments in her writing that inspire me. By the time she arrives at the theme: “Here—always evolving, never-the-same-place-twice here,” I’ve already jotted four other ideas of my own for personal essays, but I have to decide which one for now, and as I tell my students, the ideas aren’t going anywhere. That’s why we pin them down with a pen; so we can return to take them out for a spin.
In Chapter Four, “South Indian Filter Coffee,” Rardon describes the day she asked her host in Duwali, a place that counters the Northern Indian tradition of all things tea, to teach her how to recreate “…the creamiest, sweetest, richest coffee I had tasted yet.” During that rendered-with-love lesson, the host says, “‘You are noting every little thing,'” and Candace responds, “You don’t want to miss a single moment of what you are doing. It’s like when you are living the retired life, you can look back and read and say, ‘Oh my God, I did so much.'” At this point, I’m already imagining the writing directions I could follow, and this is one of them. I am living “the retired life,” and have boxes of past notebooks and writing to look back on, but I haven’t gotten to them yet. Why is that? Because I am still writing forward, not reading backward.
Memories provide a rich source for writing and that, undoubtedly, too, were I to review what I’ve already written, I’d find I’d rewritten. Someone has said that writers often rework the same story repeatedly, hoping for redemption. True for me at least, the same themes would emerge. A couple of years ago, my older sister sent me a small package with a note tucked inside: Trish, I think if anyone in the family keeps this, it should be you!
The miniature dictionary confirms it. This is who I was at nine, and I haven’t changed all that much. Even then, my love of words anchored my life, defined me. What keeps me hopeful is that in the “retired life” that spirit knows no bounds. As long as I am able to read and write, I will find stories to tell and to receive, and that will be my ever-evolving here, my life.