A recently published article in the Literary Traveler, The Faces of Vincent.
Long ago and far away, when I was a young girl, I loved to write letters. This was a time when there were no computers, no cell phones, and… gasp… long distance telephone calls were very, very expensive. I wrote letters to friends in the city I had moved away from. I wrote letters to my grandparents. I wrote notes to classmates…. (antique style texting under the table) in class! I also had three pen pals.
I don’t remember how I acquired these pen pals. Debbi lived in Massachusetts and owned a horse. I had a horse too, so we had lots to talk/write about. We even exchanged black and white photos taken with our matching, Kodak Instamatic cameras.
I also had two pen pals who lived in Japan. I think I may have made these two friends through Girl Scouts while earning one of the badges that got sewn on my sash. Both of their names started with T, but I don’t remember anything else about them, or what we wrote about to each other. All three of those relationships slowly fizzled out. When I went away to college, I wrote to my parents, my friends, my grandparents. Eventually long distance got cheaper and I did more calling than writing.
Then along came blogging. Suddenly I found myself with all kinds of new, far away friends. At first, I thought it was very strange to be writing back and forth with people all over the world whom I had never met. Then I realized, it was just like having lots of pen pals!
A new day, a new venue, same old weather. A repeat of cloud and misty rain; spring in the Midwest. But in the writing place I was headed for…. the weather wouldn’t matter.
One enters the Milwaukee Art Museum into the magnificent cathedral-like space of Windover Hall, with its exquisite white marble floor, a vaulted a 90-foot-high glass ceiling, and above it the Burke Brise Soleil, a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan that unfolds and folds twice daily. I flashed my membership card and walked directly to the magnificent windows to gaze out over Lake Michigan.
It was quiet. A sacred quiet. Tranquil. The spaces were large, with gentle air flow from muffled fans running somewhere behind the marble columns and arched ceilings. I climbed the carpeted steps to the second floor of this sanctorium and made my way to a large open area designated for microfiche, business, and periodicals.
The huge windows on the north wall over-looked MacArthur Square, which is surrounded by the Milwaukee Police Department’s downtown station, and the imposing, Neo-Classic Revival County Court house (which architect Frank Lloyd Wright called “a million dollar rock pile.” Red brick walks surrounded the plots of bright green grass in the square, though it was sleeting/snowing out. Inside it was toasty, however, and I found an empty table with a chair facing the window.
I’ve been thinking a lot about writing lately. Notice, thinking, not writing. One can think anywhere at any time: driving the car, tossing and turning in the dark at night, walking the dogs, or jogging on the treadmill. One does not have the same freedom in writing. I could list a million excuses, which only a few are really valid, for not spending enough time writing.
But quite simply, I have not been spending enough time with pen in hand. I do sit in front of the computer often, but that usually spirals out of control and I get lost in the vortex of the worldwide web universe, and lose two hours of my life in the blink of an eye.