Invisible Fireworks

Today is the fourth of July, both at home and where I am now.

At home, it’s 5 A.M. At home, no one is there. Tyler, who lives with me at home, has taken my dog with him to visit his family. I hope he brought her special food with him. I hope he remembered to water my plants- or that it’s raining at home. I left home and came here to become a better writer. At home, I didn’t write enough. I procrastinated, even though I love writing, and would blame homework and working and the need to nap on my lack of writing. These are probably partly the reason, along with other things like not seeking inspiration and not feeling intelligent enough or talented enough or interesting enough for other people to want to read what I wrote. I don’t have to have an audience- I do write for myself- but I wanted to have an audience. I needed feedback, and compliments- things to fill the void of having grown up with a father who instilled a great sense of insecurity in me and of losing a mother who combated that insecurity every day by gracing me with genuine love and pride. I spent three years of my life seeking a surrogate father figure. Then one day, I realized that you can’t shop for a surrogate parental figure by wandering around and hoping to find a retail store specializing in your preference of personality. Now I’m in the market for self-infused security by improving a skill that I always fancied I had to some mild degree. But in order to know if that skill is improved, I needed an audience of some sort. I needed someone to show me what I did that was wrong and what I did that was wonderful. The audience I choose was a group of writers of all levels converging at a territory of amazing depth and layers; a place that will always retain a certain unfamiliarity no matter how many times one has visited it.

Here, it’s 2pm. Here, I am completely alone. Everyone I know, who came from Seattle to Rome, has gone to visit a famous beach. I hope they brought sunscreen with them. I hope they find cool things to buy and have lots of fun. I stayed here instead of going to the beach because I was tired and depressed and wanted to write. Instead of writing as much as I’d like to, I only get one day off a week- Sunday. The rest of the week is consumed with seeing monuments, museums, and churches, and having to learn the facts about all the monuments, the artwork in the museums, and the churches. After walking around for hours, I have a scant amount of time where I’m expected to write something brilliant to share in the evening. I’m tired of not being able to write anything, save for something brilliant that I am expected to write in two hours during the hottest part of the day where all I want is a cold shower followed by a long siesta. All of the brilliant stuff I write is starting to sound the same to me. Some people write brilliant poetry, others write brilliant snatches of a story. What I write is neither. I follow the daily writing assignment to some mild degree and write a descriptive piece about something abstract that is turned into something solid through so much description I doubt everyone else understands the words I read. I spend hours lingering over sounds and defining details in what turns out to be one small notebook page of writing. During the evening session, everyone stares blankly at their journals when I read. I have to announce when I’m finished, otherwise they would continue to stare downwards blankly and stale in the heat. Sometimes I receive a generic compliment before we move onto the next writer.

Right now, it’s probably cool and cloudy in Seattle. It might even be raining. It’s the Fourth of July, which means it will either rain or be overcast for most of the day. A lot of people hate it because the weather prevents firework displays from streaking across a cloudless sky and overpowering the cold pale stars. Here, it never rains. It’s dry, hot and humid, but there are never clouds in the sky and never cool droplets of water to wash away sweat and clean the air. The heat makes everything stale faster, especially energy and minds. There is no cool relief to wake the senses, to keep things from rotting. There is no water to quench dry skin and minds. The dirt is black here, and it creeps and snakes through angled alleyways and over faceless buildings on wisps of wind where it streaks across white linen or khaki cotton and mingles with the sweat dripping from foreheads.