Writing is an act I do alone. In my home office before anyone is awake (just as now). In my school office between course prep, grading, and the dozens of other tasks that demanded my attention. Even at one of my local coffee shops, when others are present, I’m still by myself. Solitude is my preferred working method.
I volunteered to drive the night shift during a cross-country road trip last year. That meant the long drive through South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. Maybe my enthusiasm to take the short straw was the prospect of what singer/songwriter/writer Josh Ritter calls being “pulled by the American darkness/the mountains, the rivers, the fields at harvest”. Or maybe it was the goal of meeting the sunrise in Missoula. (I had long ago been lured in by A River Runs Through It.) I didn’t want to come to such joy by sleeping until the morning.
My grandmother was crazy. I stand at her grave in Virginia and know this is true. She was also achingly beautiful. I have seen old photographs from her youth. She is buried next to her parents who loved my mother unconditionally.
“Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth. If one turns aside from him to go toward the truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms.”
— Simone Weil
Sam Scoville is my Facebook friend of some years. We share similar upbringing, similar make-up. We’ve shared some startling conversations about life’s real and painful things. Sam is a walking confessional and a skilled trickster. Moreover, he’s a practiced truth-teller.
I got lost in it and didn’t hear her at first. “It’s time to go,” my mother called out from the back porch of our neighbor’s house. Mr. Roberts lived alone, the oldest man in the neighborhood, over a 100 years old. I thought the fig tree must be that old—it was massive. It was easy to get lost inside the leafy, twisting branches. The tree, while two or three times taller than my ten-year-old self, also spread over a good quarter of Mr. Roberts’ backyard.