I went to a writing conference this weekend and it was pretty wonderful. My favorite workshop I went to was for writing creative nonfiction and we started with an exercise called “I remember,” which is where you basically just list a bunch of memories in a row and start each sentence the same way:
I remember my love for math but my incapability to be perfect at it.
I remember the fairies that lived in the shoebox in my closet.
I remember how excited I was to move.
After sharing with the person next to us and a few with the entire group, we then had to pick one and go into greater detail with it.
I picked the one about moving and tried really hard to use impressive vocabulary and the most beautiful-sounding descriptors I could think of because the person sitting next to me was one of those people who could describe what her cereal looked like this morning and it would move you to tears.
Then, after some more writing and sharing, we had our third and final exercise: write about a significant event in your life that hasn’t happened yet.
I wracked my brain for only a moment before I knew what I was going to write about: the moment someone tells me they love me.
I thought of a few different scenarios. Walking in the middle of the street underneath the dim street lamps as the snow falls around us. Waking up in bed together and him rolling over to me and whispering those words. A drunken night filled with word vomit and long overdue confessions.
It was as I was writing, though, that I realized I don’t really have any expectations for this moment in my life. It could honestly happen anywhere, at any time, with anyone–there are really no indicators in my life right now that might indicate the where/when/who.
But none of that matters to me–not yet, anyway. I’m sure once it actually happens, it’ll all mean something (and the “who” will definitely be important).
So I jotted down some ideas and daydreamed a bit about all the different scenarios that could play out, when the instructor called our attention and told us to finish up.
Then: Isn’t that a cool exercise? It’s one of my favorites because it can tell you what writers truly desire without directly asking them, and a lot of writing is like that–writing around the subject. You don’t always know what you’re gonna write about until you just do.
I thought about what I had just written. If you had asked me, “What do you most desire?” I wouldn’t have even thought to answer with love–or anything of the sort. Not before some of my dreams like teaching and traveling.
But it’s true.
I learned something about myself this weekend and, once again, I learned it through the beauty of writing. And though I’ve been concerned that it hasn’t happened yet–that I’m nineteen years old and that I missed out on experiencing young, dumb, obsessive puppy love. And though I have no potential of a romantic future with anyone I know now, I have hope that it’ll happen for me someday.
Someday, someone will say those words to me. And in that moment I won’t think back to how I felt when I was nineteen. All the desperation and the fear of missing out on something it seems like everyone else is getting to experience.
Someday, someone is going to just look me in the eyes and tell me they love me. They’ll confess that they can’t imagine what it’d be like to not know me–that they can’t fathom a life without me in it. They’ll call me their best friend and their favorite person and every cliche in the book.
And all the while I’ll be grinning like an idiot because I feel the exact same.