The house smells of brownies.
My roommate is cooking lunch. My son and a new friend are playing video games in the living room in front of me. My daughter, my roommate’s daughter, and my friend’s son just came in from playing outside to remove the brownies from the oven.
The sounds of my house include at this moment: water running from the kitchen sink, my son singing to himself, laughter, conversation, the oven door closing, the digital timer being set, the keyboard letters depressing under my fingernails, the kids’ feet stomping up the stairs, a fork scraping the bottom of a skillet on the range top, the dishwasher running, the oven heating up again from when the kids put the brownies back in because they weren’t quite done.
Something just fell on the floor.
Visually I am distracted as well. When I write, I am often drawn to what my peripheral vision conjures up: wine colored yarn, file folders, my camera, a candybar wrapper, a bag of cough drops.
When I raise my eyes beyond the kitchen table that I am writing at, my craft table looms with clutter and other things I could be doing right now. Five dvds that need to be returned to Blockbuster, a ship my daughter made out of toothpicks and other pieces of wood and gave to me for my birthday, fingerless mittens, more skeins of yarn, a sewing machine and bins of notions. Also a basket of knitting needles.
Beyond that the coffee table has folded clothes that I didn’t fold piled high. The video game graphics rush past and, though there is no sound turned off – a stipulation I had for the tv to be on at all – my son is supplying his own soundtrack.
Kaya munches a raw carrot and the other children cut the too hot brownies. Steve cleans out the refrigerator, the trash can nearby for the moldy rotten food that we waited too long to eat.
“I can sound like a goat,” my daughter informs our guest.
“I can sound like a pigeon,” he counters.
My house is full of enchantment and experiences and clutter and toys and dogs and dirt and paper art on the walls. Also quotes and lists and bulletin boards. My friend says this is hard to look at. That if I took all the scraps of paper taped to kitchen cupboards down, the qi would flow better. That it would feel less scattered. That then I would feel less scattered.
It makes sense. What she says. But I like the lists and quotes that remind me to treat my children with love and kindness and respect. That remind me of the holiness and divinity within myself and all that I meet. That remind me to eat all my vegetables and what foods have protein in them. That showcase my children’s brilliance in art – reminding them that they are loved and important and capeable of greatness. That remind me of small things I can do to save the planet. That remind me how to build community.
The clutter that bothers me, that affects my mood and creates those stagnancies of energy in the house, are the paper collections on horizontal surfaces. The ones that grow vertically at alarming rates. The pile on top of the stereo: Japanese flash cards and dictionaries and a sewing calendar. The pile by the back door: bills and phone numbers and scratch paper and pens and markers that are spilling out of their jar. The pile on the bar: old science dioramas, a laptop case still fresh in its packaging, laundry that is drying over bar stools, homemade candles and more paper of unknown origin.
The dryer buzzer sounds and I wonder about the timer for this writing prompt. Only two minutes remain.
The writing space I envision is so completely different than what I’ve just described that to say that it is laughable would be cliché and …. laughable.
The writing space I want is mostly silent. But how do you visualize silence? Maybe a room with the breeze blowing white gauzy curtains and no paper on the walls or flat surfaces. One where the children aren’t playing Apples to Apples with friends or squealing at the Xbox 360. One where the puppy doesn’t ring the jingle bell hanging from the back door’s knob to let me know he wants to go outside. Or where the dishwasher doesn’t remind me that another load needs to be done, or the laundry piles in the laundry room don’t remind me that I still need to pack for an upcoming trip – which then reminds me that the rest of the day holds: a counseling appointment for one of my children, a trip to the bank, a cacophony of phone calls to finalize the able-bodied friends that are helping me move a hot tub tonight and the electrician I will need to find-hire-and-pay for the hooking up of said hot tub.
My imagined writing space will be a place of silence and harmony where distractions are minimal and where I can access the section of my soul that knows what needs to be written. The key will unlock with a delightful click and the room I enter will be fresh and new and I will write down what I see.
Conversely, if the room the key opens – because it is different most times I go there – is alley dark with the ammonia stench of fear and shameful loathing, then the silence allows me to excavate in privacy and to take time with the slow removal of the bandaid that covers this super ouchy time in my life.