I am sitting in my new office – the walls still the most little girl of all pinks – and everything is expansive, a vista come upon by both intention and whimsy. This space – this open space where I can spread myself wide to let the words leap long. . . oh, the gift of it.
I am adrift in the words of Dani Shapiro, of Shawn Smucker, of Eloise. I float today in their richness, letting it reach the wideness and fill me. I am able to move with them here, ease and room letting me turn.
I did not, before, realized how cramped all of me had been – a tiny space – a gift to learn simplicity and enough. But also, somehow in ways I did not know, a hindrance, a weight.
The rain is walking on the metal roof, and I imagine the footsteps of 210 years, the stories incarnate that walked in this room, stared at the wide boards of the slanted ceiling.
I do not know quite what I think of ghosts, but in this room especially, I know I am not alone – and this both scares and thrills me. Come in, come in, I want to whisper . . . with my hand out stiff before me.
In more ways than I can now articulate, this house – this land, this memory, this story – is both brand new and so old. I want nothing to go wrong here, and yet, I know it already has, beyond me, before me. In hands and on bodies and through tongues that have left their very life on this place.
I suppose I do believe in ghosts of a sort.
Here, an image of a young black woman keeps coming to my mind, a kerchief on her head, her smooth face unlined but wise just at the corners of her eyes where most people do not see it.
Just now, I saw Miss Effie, the white woman who lived here all her life – a schoolteacher, a woman most definitely called a spinster – and I wonder if she saw the woman with the kerchief, too. I wonder if they talked together.
Do the three of us, women each with all the commonality that entails – of identity kept tucked in and close to keep some of it safe from those who would use it? Women whose stories are so different – enslaved, unmarried, married and childless – yet whose story each fails to live the full identity of woman – wife, mother – as if those words are all we are? Do the three of us walk together here in some way, weaving our stories into the others’?
There is nothing new under the sun, Solomon enchants . . . and he is right, of course. And he is also not speaking the whole truth – of the newness of experience, of a new human, me, singular and created to be such. In this house, where so many women and men have lived and loved and walked, our stories are entirely ours.
My new space is wide and narrow, filled with stories and entirely open for me to add mine.
It’s a gift, rich and true. I pray I honor it well.