Thursday, November 26, 2015

I'm always early to class. Arriving early is a habit of mine, one I have no real need or desire to break. Anticipating this, I grabbed a few of my books off the bookshelf to occupy the downtime. Side note: my stuff arrived from the states a few weeks ago and I've been so happy to have all of my books in one place, on shelves. There is a comfort to their presence. I grabbed a few and made my way to the metro to go to school.

One of the books I grabbed was my friend Tait's collection of poetry called "Shortcut to Infinity." I first read it years ago shortly after he handed it to me. It was the right book to take with me yesterday. A few poems in, I started to feel a calm I had forgotten about--that wonderful feeling that is strictly for the intake of art and expression, that warmth and knowing and lifting of the spirit that poetry has always given me. I haven't read poetry in a while, and I have missed that feeling, that internal movement and flare to flame that turns me inspired.

It wasn't just that feeling, but also a feeling of familiar. A home that I know stays with me, even after departure. His poems echoed Pittsburgh, and brought back memories and things I haven't thought about in quite some time. Wonderful things, both large and slight. Like the pinball machine in the Quiet Storm. Like the shows and late nights and long walks. In reading them, I remembered that young and wild, that persistent need to stay out stay up stay inspired, stay writing. We all were barely ever standing still in that city. Now, it is a different place and we are all a bit different too, but there is still a heartbeat in memory. A glory in remembering.

I left Pittsburgh after living there for 13 years. At that point, the city was a part of me and it was time. When I think back, what I miss the most(aside from friends of course) is how free the place let me be. I lived all of my 20s there, grew up in it, and it was a wonderful city to grow and be in. Artistically, I always felt supported and at the same time challenged. There were weeks where you could stumble into a poetry gig more nights than not. Pittsburgh played a phenomenal role in shaping me as an artist, in teaching me how to brave and to try things. I carry these things with me, I hold them close even thousands of miles from the source.

Living overseas, all this newness and shifting, has not been easy for me. The past few weeks have also rendered me physically and mentally tired--I think overdoing my training has a deeper source...all that time spent in the gym focusing on exertion. I have not been writing like I am used to. I have deprived myself of a balance and the balance is essential to who I am and how I feel. I never want to say I forgot about that feeling of being moved, of the flame flickering strong again, but I will say I have deprived myself of it. Maybe it's some strange part of me that insists on hard times being their absolute hardest--when I need what I need the most, I pull away. I go without. Maybe this is an old self-preservation habit, an outdated thing that does more harm than good. I'm almost certain I've written about this sort of habit before.

How simple and sweet it is to remember through a friend's poetry. To recall where I have been, to recognize where I am now. To see that I am hardest on myself, for whatever reason. It is not a complicated notion to feel inspired, to seek that out on the daily. But I have made it so. Have flung myself far enough from it to think it is no longer an option. Sometimes I feel like I treat myself as if I've disappeared. Reading poetry yesterday for the first time in gosh-knows-how-long sunk me back into my flesh. It felt very much like coming home, and home may be a hundred things and places and people, but the true most-fitting home is me. This has never felt so true.

I wrote Tait, and told him thank you. And now I write this, and I do so as a promise to myself. Stop running. Stop pulling away from what you need the most. Stop scrawling maps when you know the way. Feed the flame, and glow madly with the light.

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