I buried my face a little deeper into my bowl of homemade pasta. Licking lemon cream sauce from my fingers, I heard Emily Post’s voice whisper politely, Mallory, where are your manners? I decided that etiquette is for fools who don’t appreciate good food. Sorry, Ems. At the table next to me, a youngster was given permission to order off of the “big kids menu.” She’s now holding her steamed broccoli by the trunk and shoving it in her grandma’s face. I nod in her direction, because she is my people.
What I haven’t told you yet is that my partner Steve is staring at me from across the table. He’s not staring because he’s in cahoots with Emily Post. He’s not giving me googly eyes. He’s looking at me like he did while I KonMari-ed our entire house instead of Doing The Thing I really should be doing. We’re having one of those couplesy talks about our future and what we want out of this life – and he’s looking at me with those judgy-we’re-about-to-have-real-talk-eyes.
I looked to my $7 glass of Malbec for some empathy and nervously slid around the magnetic words on the wall beside me to spell out, “God said more pie.” Saving me from myself, our server swooped in to wipe splatters of sauce off the table, which would have otherwise been absorbed by the elbows of my white sweater. What can I say? Wearing white to an Italian eatery makes me feel like a badass.
“Bower. You need to write.”
Strings of dough still wound loosely around metal tines, I started crying. Whatever, my pappardelle needed more salt, anyway.
Nothing, I mean nothing, makes a hardass feel more exposed than crying in public. While being metaphorically naked in the middle of dinner rush can be scary, it can also be exhilarating. For me, it’s usually a sign of something bigger.
Full disclosure: I usually ignore these signs.
I cry when I read prose so beautiful that it should be tattooed on my forearm. I cry when dissonant notes become compatible and I squeeze my eyes shut so I can absorb their resolve. I cry when I am scared and lost and hopeful. I cry when I feel like God can see me hiding in plain sight, doing everything but the thing.
Being seen is something we all hope for, but on our own terms, right? I suppose it doesn’t really work like that. Eventually we are all noticed for the beautiful, hypocritical, scared messes that we are. You know, just minding our own business, eating our pasta dinners, naked.
Creating is about painting a vague past with striking detail. It’s about connecting the dots for those who weren’t there. It’s about bringing people together through sights and sounds and feelings. You are helping them to feel that feeling for the first time and to let them know that you’re right there with them.
So yeah, I know you can see me, hiding in plain sight. And maybe you’re tired of me writing about writing the thing. Are you? I suppose it’s part of my process – writing about writing the thing, and hopefully shaking something loose. Hang in there, will ya? I’m giving you permission to keep staring at me with your judging, yet understanding eyes. Because I see you, too. Moving and shaking and crying and hiding right here with me.
[ “Look closer.” – Rafiki ]