Another load of writing from seventeen-year-old me. The best part about this one is all of the green squiggly underlines throughout the Word Document where it currently awaits copying and pasting. I assure you, there will be grammatical errors and run on sentences. That is my absolute guarantee. This hunk of text is one of the most raw things I’ve ever written. I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s raw in the architecture of the sentences and flow but it’s also deeply personal. I didn’t want to change it too much because it shows you (if you care) that way I think with little doctoring. I feel like I should add one of those radio voice over clips where they end a political advertisement with something to the affect of “the views expressed in this ad are not necessarily those of this station” .. blah, blah, blah. It’s been a year and a half since I wrote this and a lot can change in such a short amount of time so bear with this freshly graduated Olivia as she deals with the grief of finishing a beloved novel. Or at least that’s what she thought she was doing. As you’ll soon see, it turned into something so much more.
Read it, don’t read it, whatever works for you. It’s not exactly a short and sweet kind of thing so I won’t be offended if my views for today plummet to all-time lows. It’s called “This Weathered Novel” and yes, I am aware of the depth of cheesiness within that title but like I said, I can’t bring myself to change anything about it.
Also, brownie points to you if you can find the lyrics of Lady Antebellum, The Avett Brothers, and The Listener embedded somewhere in the words (they inspired me at the time). Jesse, you aren’t allowed to participate.
Enjoy my dear friends!
Weathered old pages of a worn novel flip gently through my fingers. Words come alive as these stories begin to unfold. Mere words, we call them, but somehow this love story, almost as old as time, burns with an aliveness, a breathlessness, a beautifulness of some kind. Old as time perhaps, but new as it connects with all that I hold inside. The final chapter and then the final words, ending yet another world I long to be in. And suddenly, I’m filled with a brand of sadness I’ve known only once before as the emptiness of my own life stares at me, blunt and cold. These women, they have known hardships foreign to me and in turn, they have known passions and love that I have only had glimpses of. Or so it would seem. This sadness, this overwhelming nostalgia, this longing for adventures causes me to wonder what I’m missing and all that I have yet to awaken. So I look. I look again. Look harder, something within me probes. Like a soldier, a distant figure walking briskly down an old dirt road, returning to his sweetheart, or the quiet whisper of Amazing Grace building slowly to a song behind those cold, hard, prison bars, so I can see my own story coming alive with each moment of memory that I allow to come into being.
I have known the loss of hope, the barrenness of joy in the face of financial crisis. I have seen my father weeping as the weight of a million mistakes crashes down upon his children. I have ached for my mother as she asks how this could ever happen. We have sat eating our tasteless meals as the dinner table sits quiet and empty, unoccupied where it once was the heartbeat of our family. I’ve prayed endlessly for the pale and silent expression upon my brother’s face to dissipate in the joy of the morning that the songs tell us all about. Then come my own tragedies, coursing like a river down the window panes of hindsight. Juvenile at first, my heart breaks once again at the mention of her name and her choice. It was not me, it was him. And then, colourless and shallow, my melody lay dejected in the dirt as it remained unsung for much too long. It’s impossible to sing when you have no voice. Like still wind chimes, or perhaps the mindless strumming of a directionless tune on an old guitar, so my own song could not find its reason to be. And then the worst of it all attacks me. God help me. I have felt the sting of a betrayal so deep that it still weeps crimson blood sometimes – when I allow it to. I have hated. I frighten myself still with the intensity with which I hated him. He was a coward; a pathetic excuse for a grown man who shriveled at the first signs of contradiction. Except that shriveling translated to loud words and blood shot eyes aimed in my direction. It was my fate to bear his consequences. I think I forgive him. Some days you can’t be sure. What is much more tragic, I think, is the heaviness of betrayal. He didn’t know any better – they did. I needed them to believe me but they couldn’t see him for what he was. We saw. We saw it all. But we are only children and our voice is quiet and weightless. We are only children. So my name is shamed. Another tale almost as old as time. They try to make truths of the things they have heard and I, I find myself defending them. These are my tragedies.
Stories seldom trail off without vindication, without love’s healing touch. I have yet to see vindication in its entirety but I find solace in the beginning of ever after. I have hoped recklessly, with utter abandon and without reward, until such is all that remains. Here, we are the same. These women whom I aspire to match, they hope, beyond reason. In stories they are sometimes momentarily unrequited but in the end, hope never goes unanswered.
My mother and father, they hold hands in Tuscany and make plans for all they will do. My father, he works, he works harder, and then works again, forever trying to pay back what he unwillingly took. We forgave him long ago. I think he may see that now. Though tirelessly he works, his eyes are dry. My mother’s laugh sparkles and bounces off the windows of our brilliantly lit home as she falls for him all over again. My brother raises his hand to a God he believes in, as such was my ceaseless prayer. Then, my joys, my angels; the thought of their smiling faces warms me and heals me, as it did those short years ago. It is never coincidence. He knew I’d need them. He knew they’d need me. We will cling to that as our lives continue to pass by as train cars on a passenger train roll through the stations. Now my song floats heavenward, changing shape with the seasons and flexing its sinuous chords as the notes move up and down. I have been shackled, as old in brokenness as the beaten worn novel I hold in my hands. In all these mercies, I have not found freedom. Freedom has found me. It has lifted me.
My King, my Father, has told me in hushed tones, do not awaken love until it is ready. Guard this garden, He whispers. I suppose my story remained stale and lackluster as the repercussions, or rather, safeguards, of this promise kept me locked away from opportune passions. But I’m ready now, to fly. As his shackles come undone day by day, he might fly with me. It would seem he already is, the way he has lit across my sky like the illuminating beam of a lighthouse on the coast. I will try, shamelessly I will try, to love him as I have been loved, that we might love together. Always the same direction, sometimes veering from the narrow path but yes, always the same direction we will walk towards what we do not know, trusting in its possibility. It is life’s hallowed and treasured task to trust in that which has a tendency to fall apart.
Come on and sew us together. I heard that once. Really, that’s all a novel is. The story is a tapestry, rising and falling as the needle works to repair and the seams form in the wake of tragedy and heartbreak. It would appear in most any story that any seam may be sewn together. These women I study tirelessly, their lives are sewn together into a beautiful tapestry. Here, we are different. In this life, some loose threads remain loose and worse yet, some long rips in the seams of our hearts cannot be sewn together again. Just as suddenly as I was touched by this sadness, I suddenly realize why it falls on me! The pages of this weathered and worn old novel are sewn together perfectly in the ever after, no loose threads left untied. My life – all of our lives – are an ongoing piece, unsewn and ripped in all the most painful places, never to be stitched back together again. Instead, those broken parts are left behind. When a life shatters, the broken pieces lay in shambles, scattered and bleeding. The healing is not one of being sewn together and it is not one of repair. The story is not a story about reassembling the broken pieces. It is a story of renewal. Of new pieces being brought to life at the hands of a Maker who loves enough to make us new each and every day. The heart cannot function on what is broken and simply sewn haphazardly together. At least that’s what my experiences have convinced me. The heart must be made new.
And so, now I see how my life is nothing like a tapestry at all. I can’t be easily sewn back together when I rip, as is done in novels. I can’t think at the moment what metaphor could represent this journey of being continually renewed, although I’m sure there is one. Right now, it’s simply life. Our old songs go unheard and unsung but when we find our voice, the new and joyful songs are sung so magically. They fly off the page where the words were first written. Suddenly I am again struck by the nonsense this weathered novel has procured in my own mind. This sadness that has touched me is for naught. These women, they are different because their voices are not voices at all. My voice, my song, it flies. It carries wherever I sing. These women, they are only a tapestry; a collection of seams sewn together, well, seamlessly. I am not a tapestry. I am a life. Alive, broken in some places and flawless in other, but floating off the pages that I write myself on to. Like a butterfly that they tried to pin down but couldn’t because the pin simply went right through and away that butterfly flew. So up and away I fly.