Hungering For A Home That Could Hold Her
Lit Salon on the thrill of naming our dreams out loud even as we tremble, knowing our dreams have saved our lives before, and can save our lives again
In our last Thursday Thread at Writing in the Dark, we had the most inspiring, heartbreaking, uplifting, and transcendent conversation about Naming Our Dream—our writing dream, yes, but more than that. This really became a celebration of our hearts’ desire.
About the dreams that nourish and sustain us. The dreams we sing ourselves to sleep with and twist like invisible prayer bracelets around our wrists. The dreams we tremble to speak out loud, even in a whisper, because we know they might hurt, even—or especially, perhaps—if they come true.
Because in our heart of hearts, we know dreams are never just bubble gum and daisy chains. Dreams have shadows and narrow paths of bramble and thorn, too, as all fairytales do.
This, I imagine, is why speaking our dreams can make us shiver, for the thrill of letting ourselves want.
I’m still basking in last week’s thread.
I hope you are, too.
The letter below came first as a comment in the dream thread, and it inspired my Lit Salon response that follows.
Here’s to dreams, friends, and dreaming out loud.
So be it for all of us, and so it is.
It's hard to name my writing dreams out loud, because I might have to admit how many times I've given up on myself. But I'm working with a new therapist and evidence-based treatments, reminding myself that creativity and dreaming have saved my life. So here goes.
To keep writing poems and to write them in a way that doesn't hold/dump the pain of my life, but imagines a way out of it through word-play, letting poems be molded, formed things that lead toward surprise, from words full of possibility and light, even when they hold the griefs, hold the death of my father, and never seem to let go of these themes.
And, I dream of writing either a novel or a linked short story collection based on a version of myself (and girls like me) in the late 90s early 00s that goes on to unravel, recreate, and explore the themes of that era of body and sexual objectification in new ways, all while letting the character become something else through questions and new narratives as she cuts out bodies from teen mags and Delias catalogues, pasting waifs all over her wall, itching her way out of rural Virginia, hungering for a home that could hold her.
Hungering For A Home That Could Hold Her
Your comment is so beautiful. It reminds me of dreams my younger self once spoke out loud. Dreams I later wrote down for my friends who edit the lit journal Past Ten. Here’s what I wrote then, just slightly updated.
It goes like this.
Sixteen years ago, at age thirty-nine, I stood in an eighth-grade Waldorf classroom in Minneapolis, lighting a beeswax candle. I placed my hands over my heart to say morning verse with the same students I’d been teaching for eight years, since they were first-graders. They were just months from graduating and leaving the school forever, and I found myself gaping into the jaws of my own future, jaws yawning open and shut, mouthing the brutish question of whether I would ever return to my dream of writing. Sure, I was freelancing for cash—cranking out magazine pieces, contract educational books, ghostwriting projects, the occasional grant—but that’s not what my childhood self meant when she proclaimed herself a writer. My childhood self meant novels, even if she didn’t know that word or its boundlessness.
As for teaching, that happened accidentally during the summer of 2000, when my children’s school announced a last-minute first-grade opening. My then husband and I were accruing debt at the identical rate of tuition payments for our children, who were ten, eight, and five. We couldn’t afford Waldorf, but teachers received tuition remission, and the school would overlook my lack of degree—I’d dropped out of college at twenty, with a half-finished English major, to get married and have a baby. We needed two incomes, and the parenting magazine where I’d been editor had recently been swallowed by a conglomerate. Our marriage was bruised enough without more money stress. Plus, I’ve always loved kids.
So I leapt.
Into the arms of a new colleague, my son’s teacher.
Metaphorical leap, metaphorical arms. But that didn’t matter. What mattered is that I pried open the tough fruit of my heart muscle and arranged its bright guilty seeds into