Thursday, July 13, 2017

On Writing, Quilting, and Letting Go

I've written before about how I have a hard time letting go. And I do. If I let myself, I would always live in the past. But living in the past doesn't let you be present or anticipate the future. I can't say it's been a conscious effort, and I still love my 90s music, but I find myself more and more in the present. I started writing my first book about 6 1/2 years ago. I finished it 6 years ago this week, and titled it Good Intentions. Some of you may be familiar with it. At that time, I'd been married for almost ten years had two young kids (ages 7 and almost 4). I was slowly climbing out of the haze and daze of those yearly years of infancy, toddlerhood, bottles, diapers, potty training, pre-school, home ownership, home renovation, going back to school, raising a special needs child, and being a working wife and mother. I struggled to hold onto me.

As with most of my life, I was in between friends. I've always done that. Been good friends with a group, then drifted onto another group. At this time, when I began writing, I was in an in between time. I'd recently become better friends with someone I'd gone to high school with, and she was slowly becoming my person (and still is). Previous to this, I'd been friends with the pre-school moms. I'd been very close with my sister-in-law who suddenly cut me off and doesn't speak to me to this day. Prior to that, I'd had my college friends.

In college, although I did drift between groups, I was part of a group of five. We met freshman year, all living on the same floor in Rich Hall at Boston University. By the end of that year, I thought we'd be inseparable for the rest of our lives. But life happens and people change and even by the end of college (which was 5 years for 4 out of the 5 of us since we were getting our Master's), there were irreparable rifts. Not really because so and so did this or so and so said that. Just ... because. Life. Death. Relationships. Careers. Geography.
My favorite picture of my BU girls, on Spring Break in the Bahamas.

When I wrote Good Intentions, I waxed nostalgic about my time in Boston. The character of Maggie is loosely based on me, at least physically (none of the actual story line is true--it's all made up). The setting is absolutely based upon places I'd lived and been. At that time in my life, I was yearning for a better time. An easier time. And for me, that was college.

Fast forward 6 years and 10 books. My husband has been encouraging me to get rid of the stuff we no longer need. We've cleaned out the baby clothes and toys. Made countless runs to Salvation Army to donate furniture. It's hard, as I feel like I'm giving away my children's childhoods. So, when it came time to clean out my closet, I struggled with a massive pile of t-shirts I've held onto since my college days. T-shirts from sporting events. From orientation. From concerts. From Spring Break. The shirt I bought when I decided to go to BU. While I would occasionally wear one here or there, I certainly no longer need a massive pile. So I decided to make a t-shirt quilt. The plan is that it will go in my office, once my office is finished (we're finishing our basement and the now playroom will become my dedicated writing space).

So, over the past two days, I've been cutting and sewing my old t-shirts. I had to cut quickly, as the action of destroying these shirts that held such memories was difficult. But as I was pinning and pressing and sewing, I realized something. My latest novel, Once in a Lifetime, is about a group of five women reuniting 10 years after they separate. And, short of one small reference to a deplorable hotel condition while on Spring Break and a story about cheetos, there are absolutely no references, easter eggs, or actual tidbits from when I was part of a group of five.

Part of my quilt of memories
It made me pause, as this would have been the perfect time to draw on that time in my life. But I never thought of it. And instead of making me sad this time, thinking about the friends I've lost, I simply shrugged as the realization hit me. Times change. People change. Sometimes people are there for you. Sometimes, even though you might need them, they aren't. And while I still keep in touch with the girls, now they're more of people I used to know than people who I'm friends with. We're planning a get together this fall. I haven't seen anyone in five years. I think some of them still get together and are involved in each others' lives. I'm not sure I still fit in. I'm not sure I ever did.

I have other friends now. Different friends. Friends who I can't imagine my life without. Much like my BU friends. But still, when I look at the quilt, I'll remember the good times and the times that were woven into the tapestry of my life, making me who I am today.

My new tribe. Wendy, we need to get you in here too cause like it or not, you're in.
My best friend Michele--my person.

2 comments:

  1. This post resonated so well with me, it's like you wrote it with me, and some struggles I've been having, in mind. Of course, you didn't. But I'm still grateful you wrote and posted it because I feel so much more validated with some of the feelings I've been having about moving on from the past when it just doesn't work with your present.

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  2. I love your quilt and story. It rings so true with me and I'm sure multitudes of women can relate. Beautifully written and expressed. Thank you for sharing.

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