While performing some much needed dorm room cleaning today, I found a flash drive that had all the poetry off of my old computer. Despite the pressing piles of assignments and beaten calculators that should have been attended to, I spent almost an hour going back and rereading my old poetry. The writing collection started when I was 11, and progressed all the way through my senior year of high school.
For most of the writing, I was vaguely disappointed with myself. It was challenging not to look down on my own writing, even if it was from 7 years ago. A great deal of it was jumbled and difficult to read. I did not quite yet understand the idea of expressing worthy ideas through beautiful words – I was completely entranced with the way the words went together. I watched how they appeared together on the page, how they sounded when I said them in quick succession, staccato poetry.
I remember thinking that I was really writing great stuff. I knew some of it was lesser quality, but my best pieces from that time felt like an invention – by staying up late beneath the covers and writing shakily by flashlight, I had discovered something.
I definitely wasn’t writing really great stuff, but I was writing decent material for having been alive 11 years, and physically capable of writing for 7. I was also struck by how far my writing has come. In the daily grind (that would be a great name for a newspaper, eh?), it’s so easy to lose track of writing as a priority.I feel like I spend months completely stationary when it comes to my progress as a writer. But it’s like growing out your hair – you don’t see it grow, but at some point you realize you definitely need a hair cut.
I thought that I would feature two interesting examples of old poetry. Both were somewhere between 13 and 16 years old. First, an angry letter disguised as poetry.
“Letter to an almost-ex girlfriend.”
The tides move for you. You are the sun, the moon, the earth. Gravity is born at your core, and quantum physics is based on your motion. Chemistry is your bi-product, and you can write, “I love you” in seventeen languages.
See, I can lie, too.
Outside of Red Lobster, you told me you wanted to be with me. It could only go downhill from there.
The first few months were the rediscovery of selflessness. I wrote you notes in handwriting comparable to the Declaration of Independence, and you scrawled back in generic, left-handed letters. I kept every one in a manila envelope by my bed. I never reread them. I didn’t care that much.
You’re not prom-queen pretty, or beach-body hot. And I’m not, either. I whispered sugar-sweet sentiments and begged you to believe them, building a brick and mortar base, sealing it with a sprinkling of sincerity. You have to have something strong when I leave you.
I store our misunderstandings in the bins beneath my bed: they’re overflowing. My closet is a mountain of our mishaps – spilling over onto the floor of my room. I dig tunnels through our misconceptions and sleep amongst our misled miseries. My dad suggests that I give some of what is piling up in my closet to kids who need it. They wouldn’t want it.
Chemistry isn’t your bi-product. Your bi-products are dirty house, empty coke cans, and cat left hungry. You never even took Chemistry, and when I would stagger to lunch with the pen clutched so tightly in my hand wearing yesterday’s clothes, you didn’t want anything to do with what I saw as my next genius-level inadequacy. The power that you wielded those two letters, “ok,” was unrelenting.
I started to learn Russian around Christmas. My dad speaks Greek, Russian, and snippets of sultry Romance Languages. My Mom speaks French in an awkward Parisian accent, and we stumble over root words and pronunciation. With the world’s tongues on my lips, I’ve never once asked how to say I love you in seventeen languages. I can’t even mean it in one.
And the second piece, with a little bit of humor.
In a quixotic attempt to rid myself of a superfluous vocabulary, I discovered the basis of my fabricated reveries, frequented by the occasional phantasm or wistful incubus.
Pontificating broadly about music and hair and adolescent affairs, infesting the mall with voracious debit cards, and wishing our will power allowed us to be our parsimonious parents – I’ve nothing to look forward to but dissimulated dejection and transient thought bridging on in-somnolence.
Here’s to my ubiquitous nature that makes me dubious of normalcies and sleep a physical impossibility. In a permanent state of pensiveness, muted musings on Greek roots and the desultory word game make up what I consider to be my convivial side.
But my friends note my wordy affluence, and tell me to “loosen up.” Scanning through a mental thesaurus, I find nothing under “loosen up.” So they propose “relax” as a suggested synonym. I’m terrified to find that there’s no rendition. Is this a noun? How is it spelled? Can you use it in a sentence? No elucidation or bothersome origins. And to believe that my erudition ends long before “relax” can become an affirmed part of my exorbitant vocabulary…
Can I have a definition? I may have to concede to the imperative exigency to ponder my priorities.
If you have previously visited this blog, it should be evident that my writing has developed a great deal. I’d like to say my current writing is considerably better, but I am convinced only that I am changing. My perspectives are broadening – fresh experience leads to new eloquence.
The second piece perfectly illustrates the obsession with words that I discussed earlier – an expanding vocabulary can be beneficial, but clearly detrimental when overused.
The first piece was one of the first times that I felt strongly enough about something to be able to incorporate personal experience into my writing with any semblance of success. A 14-year-old victory.
This has been a rambling an unfocused piece, but reflecting on past work as a writer is beneficial both to convince yourself that you are improving,and to possibly find new veins to explore within your body of work.
I’m off to ponder my priorities.