When I’m awake early and writing at my desk I can catch a glimpse of myself in the reflective surface of the window. At five or six a.m. I look a mess. I tilt my head a little – what is that? A sagging jowl? This is not writerly. It is exactly who I am. Almost forty, taking notes on jowls.
How lucky I am to be just waking up, at all. I remind myself that I have friends who didn’t make it to forty, who left behind students who adored them, or their own children. So soon I will be forty, and then I will have to say that I am forty, not “nearly forty,” which sounds so much better than “forty,” which is definite, even, and very much in the middle of a long life if I’m lucky enough to have it.
I read a poem recently by a writer who I know has ego issues, and the poem was beautiful, and I wished I didn’t know anything about the poet. I figure that every writer has one issue or another, or multiple ones, or at least I hope they do so it is not just my aging face reflected in the glass but a whole chorus of us. Yes, this makes me selfish. Who wants to be alone, really? When the sun swings its magic wand and the morning hits that point where everything shimmers we will no longer be an image pressed onto the window, but part of the entire landscape. Just the words, not our faces. If we're lucky. It's something to strive for anyway. If I can stop thinking about my jowls long enough to write something with elegant virtuosity, or eloquent virtuosity. I can't remember the phrase -- not writerly, but written in a genuine and honest voice.