WRITING FUN & VALENTINES

      I ran across this graphic by opening an Etsy page, and a flood of memories came back to me.  As kids, in the inner city, we played a lot of things with paper, hands, and invention.  This folding-paper "Fortune Teller" was something I did throughout my youth, and then .. forgot.  I guess.  I've not thought of it until now, seeing this graphic.

     I even sent it to my daughter to ask her if we ever did this together; I don't think we did!  She is an educator, and oversees the Literacy Specialists for both the gifted and special-needs kiddos where she is, and we both bemoan the waning of interaction.  So, I sent the graphic, and the page of the how-to, all that's needed is a squared piece of paper and some pens!  I thought her little ones, if she's in a Class tomorrow, might delight in this!  You can write what ever you like behind the 'hidden folds' of the paper that is chosen by what ever means the kids choose.  You point to one 'edge,' and the holder of the Fortune opens that part for their surprise.  Knock-knock jokes were inside this one, but there can be he-loves-me, he-loves-me-nots, chance fortunes of their own invention, or anything they dream up.  It's cavernous, and I guess that each unfolding leads to the next.

     As we all come together as writers here, I wanted to share this, as I unravel these thoughts that are flooding into me.  Some of you that knew me from Open Salon knew my journey back into sanity, the helps I got, the influences and disciplines that helped, and re-formed my belief, impetus, chance, possibility, and re-integration.  Much of that re-mantling was necessary because of having lost almost all my memory in my incident, so I was given the opportunity to put a Me back together that I was much more assimilated with than the one that made me reject the one I had become, causing me to have a breach with what ever Reality I had been, theretofore.

    I love that the simplest things that come my way continue to re-mantle place and time memories in a pebble-in-the-pond fashion.  One thought ripples out, bringing back all the attendant geographics, times, friends, stages of life, belief, change, decision.  And that in my great fortune of having had the same therapist for the six years that I was gone, I learned to not be afraid of memories; to be able to feel emotions again, to allow the physical sensation of them, and in that process, allow all that came back - to remain.  To not try to 'select' or 'reject' anything.  To love knowing that I am, simply, the sum total of what experience I have had.  To see myself from some 'outside,' as it were, in order to direct my behavior toward what I do want, instead of seeing what I might've done to attract what I didn't.  To know that there is always a fifth element underneath the accepted four of cause and entropy, the one of Surprise.  

    I am in that place at the moment, and loving the embracement of all these child-games, with paper, pencils, hands, word-plays, hand-claps, jump-rope, in short - interaction.  Folding paper, and having it UN-fold, to the surprise you imagine and direct coming out from the inside, was something I did for all my young years.  

     Paper and pencil were the toys of my youth.  We could not afford every board game that came along, so my playmate, the brother nearest my age, and I just - made our own.  I've suddenly remembered our "Treasure Chest," a shoebox that we lovingly taped the lid to on one side to make it 'open,' and covering it with paper we decorated in some Pirate fashion to make it a 'chest.'  We made the games we did not have to play as Family, Parcheesi and Monopoly were growing knowledges of how numbers and places work, but we made Steeplechase, and others that have not come quite back yet.  But the mechanisms for the games are of interest, using dice, or a spinny-dial.  I do remember thinking on how to create a moving spinny-dial, although I cannot recall the mechanism.  Likely, just a rounded piece of cardboard and a cut-out arrow, attached by a brad.  

     Perhaps this belaboring of making things 'just-right' is part of the reason that I am such a precise, mechanical, schematic, gear-head kinda gal?  The intricacies of string, learning to manipulate a tiny hook and a spun thread into lace as a child, when we still placed doilies underneath the lamps, so as not to scratch the finish of the furniture, but girly-like, make it perty!  I'm quite good with my hands, and I fashion tools to 'make things out of other things.'  It has a downside too, in trying to explain to someone why I want a certain thing, like a second brace, going the other direction, to defray pull on something from one side, or can't you just make the bolt with a washer, so this part will move?  It's a rare person who can read the schematics that my Dad would draw in the air to me, to quicken the answers to my questions about why he'd build a bridge, or a bend in something like his model railroad.  But it was a hidden language in our family that I never knew.  Of course not; I thought everyone worked this way.  Joists are for this.  Hinges are for that.  Etc.

    Much of imagination CAN be explained on paper, alongside a narrative from the person doing the inventing.  That part is universal, I'm sure.  Nonetheless, paper was our Medium, Timmy and I.  These folding 'Fortune Tellers' were likely more fortunate for the both of us than we ever gave credit to.  I wish he were still here, because I'd make him one for tomorrow, with each segment unfolding to varied periods of our growing up, and what we did together, and alone, with paper.

    As children, we made a Newspaper, and for a number of years, from about ages 7 and 8 until 10 and 11, before we moved away from the inner city.  I don't remember the name of it right now, but I do know that when I started discovering the family treasures I'd abruptly squirreled away in my old attic during the process of keeping anything we could when Mom suddenly died and Daddy flipped out and started throwing things away -- I still have them.  They are still here, safe with me.  Tucked away in letters and snapshots kept, my brothers off in the service, me off in the Redwoods, papers upon papers.  And there they were - two 'Issues' of our newspaper.  It was a weekly, and we worked at it all the time.  We drew the columns, made squares for the 'pictures' he drew, capital-lettered 'headlines,' and wrote the copy.  Things we'd notice around and about the neighborhood and would elaborate on, or make up stories about, likely just to satisfy our young curiosity and imagination.  The man who owned the drycleaners who walked very fast, always jinging the change in his pocket being a bookie.  The old man in the raincoat with the Chihuahua we were afraid of because he wobbled and yanked the doggie's chain being a drunkie.  The old lady who lived in the grey house that we never saw being a witch, or the crabby woman with the best roller skating sidewalk, made of slate, was always chasing us off because her name was Mrs. Lukhäupt, so we all 'sneezed' her name.  The coming of Summer, and 'announcements' about Lemonade stands, the re-emergence of the Ice Cream man with the bells on the handlebars of his tricycle, chasing after the Ice Block Delivery Man to chink us all off a piece, or biking en troupè behind the DDT Jeep, spraying 'that stuff' that smelled so good.  

     When starting in High School, he made a paper too, called These Are My Friends.  A simple notebook sheet, folded in fours, with a cover, and unfolding to caricatures of the new kids we met there.  From the nerds and outcasts to the embraced and popular, he parodied these personas, much to everyone's delight.  It was whispered, not known.  In parochial school, that behavior was taboo, so it was folded and re-folded, passed Pssst-fashion in the hallways between classes, and it seemed everyone knew - but the teachers.  He was popular in a knowingly unknown way, and wry grins and glances said so.  It even became anticipated, and me, a year behind, got to glory in some of his dust.  I wrote rhymes, but didn't pass them around much.  Shy, perhaps without Timmy as my liaison.  I remembered from my found-papers that I did do something, because a rant about Teachers! was published in my classes' last yearbook.  

     I found that, too, which I never would have remembered, but knowing that in that finding, I knew of how I found my way once, and perhaps could, again.  I was not regarded well, coming from the inner city, and was tagged a slut because I hung out with too many boys.  I must be a bad girl.  I guess.  But I hated that because it wasn't true, and being an outcast was hard.  So I begged my parents to let me have a slumber party my second summer, and I invited all the popular girls.  With Timmy as the chaperone, of course they all came.  They wanted to be in These Are My Friends.  But in the process, they found out that I was just a tomgirl, who liked tools and cars, not boys so much, and was not a slut after all.  So my last two years of those formative ones were extended out, from the amazing family I got, all loving, gleeful and goofy, with good intentions.  I found a me that I wanted, was embraced, and even got to host a graduation party, with Daddy building a big ole' bonfire out the fields behind us where we moved to, and we girls, all, together, burned our uniforms.  It was the sealing of permanence.  And the only thing I had left in memory to re-build my life from after I - left, I guess.  Something I knew of me, from an outside.  It let me come back in.

     A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste.  Remember those blurbs?   Not sure what the impetus was, but likely, drugs.  Minds are lovely little things, and we are not taught enough to be knowing, and loving, of them.  So much of our bodies only house our spirits.  So much of our bodies work so mechanically, without forethought, that they are taken for granted.  Until you lose a part.   Then - you begin.  To know, to wonder.  To embrace.  To learn how to drive your own existence. 

     I so bless that I was Given this big ole' goofy, loving family that formed me, and that it was somehow outside (or inside) what caused my spirit to break.  But I also know it is a very singular existence, and not everyone has been granted that same freedom, and trust.  But within that, I know that writing is the pathway out of our own souls.  It is the voice of our inner spirits, and it does not matter if we need to rant something out and throw it away, or lovingly calligraph and draw, dot, color or cut-and-paste a simple Valentine, it is, indeed, the pathway to the most inner reaches of how love creates the We that decide to be.  The freedom.  The fearlessness, and the ultimate knowing that it hurts nothing to express.  In fact, the very release, by expression, is what keeps us happy, healthy, and whole.

     Happy Valentine's Day.  The etymology of the name "Valentine" is derived from "containing valour."

     As I was directed in those years of return ~ write.  Keep writing.  When words come - stop.  Write them down.  Let them out.  They say what your spirit knows, your mind sees, hears, and assimilates, and wants your waking self to know, to allow you to direct yourself toward what you do want.  

It's All Of A Piece.  Yours, Individually.  And Unique. 

~

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