This summer has been full from start to impending finish. It began with Lydia’s high school graduation and a wonderful days-long heart-warming family celebration. It continued through lazy, exploring days and into an amazing three-week European family adventure. And the finish promises to be a doozy as Lydia leaves for college and our home, for the first time in 22 years, will be empty of children. This year also is the year that Connor graduates and heads off on who-knows-what path and Adeline will be spending a semester overseas in England. The chicks are flying out of the nest.
I’ve been very mindful of this impending change and have stretched my own wings this summer, exploring on my own and embracing solitude as well as family time. As each experience has unfolded, whether solitary or familial, I’ve had the strongest, recurring sense that when I write about a moment, I’m creating a sort of memory bead.
With my words I’ve struggled to craft each moment into a distinct shape that highlights its essence and encapsulates the critical elements, physical and emotional– solitary walks tinged with melancholy; sun-speckled, companionable hikes over and around giant boulders; lazy, evening strolls on a beach; walking through the relentless heat on the cobbled streets of Pompeii; the hushed power of an ancient cathedral; a laughing moment dining al fresco in Rome. As I sift through recent thoughts, impressions, experiences, adventures, my mind is still spinning. It takes time to filter through the richness of it all.
Each experience is the fuel that fires the forge of my writing. The flames stir, crackle and pop, and with time and effort, a bead emerges, hopefully strengthened and refined, distinct in color, size, shape, feel. I consider it, rework it, and sometimes discard it. And when I take the time to write about a moment, to find the precise words and phrases, I am sometimes, wonderfully, rewarded by finding the thread that links each seemingly disparate bead. And then, if and when that one bead feels ready and complete, I place it gently next to the one before it. I’m stringing a necklace of memories.
This winter, when dark dips early and the house echoes about us, I’ll skim my fingers through my mental jewelry box and, clicking bead by clicking bead, I’ll pull out my strand of memories. And I’ll choose one, touch it softly, lovingly, and remember. Then I will gently release it, to click into place beside its brethren, and tuck the strand away. And hopefully, I’ll then head out on a new adventure, add fuel to the forge and create a new memory to string along with those that have come before.