I think of all the writers that I’ve heard about. I think about the names like Shakespeare or the other greats whose names may differ, according to opinion. I think about Kerouac and his long, unending sentences, which make sense to me. I think about Tristessa, which is a great one by Jack Kerouac. I think about this and what the novel means to me.
I think about the late poet Jim Carroll and how he would read his poetry at open venues. Carroll read his poems regardless of his accent or the sound of his voice. I think about this and how it leads me to regard myself.
I think about Robert Fulghum and one of his best selling books, which I took from the nightstand next to my Old Man’s hospital bed.
The Old Man never had the chance to finish reading the book, but I did. I read this from start to finish, more than once. I’ve had several copies of this book since that time. In fact, I keep a copy of this book around the same as someone might keep a bible. And by the way, I don’t do this with a sense of hope for salvation or religion.
Instead, I keep this as supportive gospel to allow my inner self the right to think and to feel. I use this as a source of inspiration to remember the way I felt the day I realized that someday, I want to be a writer too.
I think about the freedom of the written word, which is a gateway to me and how without it, a piece of me would be without a limb.
I figured since this journal entry is about relationships and friendships, I thought it would be best to tell you about my relationship with the pen and paper and why I come here to share them with you.
I can remember writing floods of different words in notebooks. I would go on for hours but I would never share this with anyone. I would never tell anybody. I would never read my prose because of the old chapters in my life, which only proved to be relevant because I kept my fears alive.
After all, I was that kid in class. I was the stupid one, or so I thought.
I was the one who stuttered when I read. I was the one who would count the seats in front of me when we took turns reading. This way, I could count how many paragraphs were read by the students until at last, it was my turn. My idea was to identify the paragraph that I would have to read aloud so that I could pick up, seamlessly, and not skip a beat. I never wanted to lose my place. But I always did.
I never wanted to sound like an idiot. But to me, I stuttered.
I never wanted to sound illiterate. But to me . . .
I always did.
This is art. This is emotion. This is pain, mystery and history combined; yet, this is the freedom to rejoice and release the soul. Or, more accurately, this is me. This is my friendship with the paper and pen and this is about a place that I have built, which no one else can destroy.
There are times when speaking seems to fall short. But the pen knows what to say. I can shut my mind off. I can allow the stream of consciousness to say whatever I need to. I can unload my thoughts. I can sing. I can dance. I can create music. I can empower myself.
I can be free and see the dreams in my mind.
There is no harm in being sensitive. There’s no crime here.
To be honest, the only crime is when someone shames you for being who you are.
But that doesn’t happen here. Not with me. Not with you and not with us.
I can feel this. As I write to you, I am facing my screen and watching letters appear as they form into words. Nothing else in my life makes sense like this. There is no stutter. There is no awkwardness. There’s just the music of typing on a keyboard. There are no critics or need to turn inwards or blush. I have created a little spot for myself here in this crazy place called purgatory. I am safe to scream here. I can cry here. I don’t have to worry about someone seeing me. Or worse, I don’t have to be afraid that someone will see me as weak or vulnerable. I can be brave here. I can think clearly and allow the inner voice an outlet. I need this.
The world and the people in it are not something that makes sense. This is why I need love. This is why I need real friends. I need true friends. This is why I need the paper and the pen. I need them to help me think my thoughts through. I do this to challenge my assumptions or at minimum; to exhaust my irrational-self and let the legs of my dilemmas run themselves out so at last, I can rest.
I allow myself this place to share it with you, my most special friend.
This is where I am safest. I can be, think, create and control. Nothing can hurt me here. I am at the wheel like a captain, offshore and safe in my wheelhouse. No matter how stormy the weather or the seas, i know that my ship can move safely so long as I steer it home.
I have this place that belongs to me. I have built this piece of my world to protect me and keep me sane. Even if I am insane or crazy, at least here, everything makes sense to me. And there is no distinction between sanity or otherwise. There is only us here, which is exactly how I like it.
There are no critics. I am not looking for acceptance. I don’t have to sell myself or look for approval. I have this; my words to fill the empty spaces. I have the fulfilling gesture of typing the keys and allowing this to take away the sins of my world. (So I can be absolved.)
I can remember it:
I remember the first day I chose to build my personal sanctuary. I remember the very first thing I wrote, which began this journey.
“My redemption has nothing to do with your response.”
This was the start of my journey. This is part of my recovery and part of a promise that I made to myself, which commits that I will never allow myself to be stolen again.
I say this often and I will quote this here to say it again:
“The day they steal my smile is the same day they stole me.
And I can’t have that. Not on my watch. Not ever.”
I can remember the time I closed my eyes and let words flow. I didn’t even look. I didn’t worry about the reader or anyone else. I didn’t think about social regard or wonder, “Is anyone gonna like this?” or “Does anyone even care?”
I have written about everything that has happened to me in my life. I’ve left it here in this special place of mine. I have talked about my struggles and about my pain. I have talked about my insults and injuries, both emotional and physical. I have talked about abuse. I talked about the imposition of a person’s hand on a young child’s body. I found my recovery and that clearly, my revenge was personal redemption and not retaliation.
I opened up to you here. I have talked about everything and left my fears with abandon. Besides, what are friends for? This is the place I come to find that comfort and be this free. This is where my most special friend allows me to open up and be me without fear or judgement.
This is why real friends are important. You can laugh with them. You can cry with them. You can walk away without feeling lonely. You can do this because deep down, you know where they are. You know who they are and in fact, no matter how far the bottom drops, your real friends will be there to see you through. Friends know the truth. They always do and rather than keep our secrets, our friends honor us with a sacred oath of anonymous confidentiality.
I come here to talk about my connection with the ocean. I talk about how this is like confession. The waves come in to replenish the sands and as they recede, they take away the unwanted sediments from the shoreline. I see this as us. I see this as me breathing, writing and venting. I inhale to replenish my lungs. And after, I exhale to remove the unwanted sentiments from my mental shorelines.
(Get it?) The tide comes in to bring me hope and when I exhale, the tide goes out to take away the scraps that no longer belong to me.
I cannot say whether I will ever do a public reading. I don’t know about this. I think for now, I would rather keep this between us. However, I read a chapter from one of my books on a podcast. No one else knows how much growth this took. No one else knows how brave this move was (except for maybe you).
I was that kid . . . too afraid.
But I’m not that kid anymore.
Since this is about friends and friendships, I would like to tell you what friends mean to me. This is certainly more than a connection on social media. When I was a kid, the only social media I knew about is when my name was written on the bathroom wall at school. There were memes there too but they didn’t read quite as well. I think at best, the quotes came from shithouse poets who slander the underlings in the school.
I mentioned before that our friends are the ones who introduce us to our ability. Our friends are the ones who make us comfortable in our own skin. And sometimes, our friendships are not as plentiful as we hoped they would be. That’s why I have this place. This is why I am here and this is why I have you, my most special friend.
I have traded my pen and paper for this trusty keyboard. The screen shows me my words that build and grow. In fact, I have not stopped writing since I sat down. I have allowed myself to open up and ramble because after all; this is what real friends do. They let you get it out. They let you speak when you need to and because of this, at last, we can get some rest and feel better.
I have a note to the critics. Got to hell.
You are not welcome here anyway. You don’t know what it takes to create. You don’t know how brave it is to say, “This is who I really am” and then put it out there for the universe to see.
You’ve never bled in public nor are you brave enough to.
I think of the writers I know and the artists who have so much talent. But yet, no one in the world will ever have the chance to see them play. I think of the kid who will pick up the pen and someday, their words will change the world.
I go back to the wise ass who used to tease me at work.
“Are you still trying to be the next Shakespeare?”
But since then, I have authored a few books. I have earned a column in a labor publication. I have been flown across the country. I have been on television. I have been on the front page of a newspaper. I have been invited to colleges to lecture about my journey. And now, here I am (by the way, here comes the emotions) I was that kid but not anymore.
Thanks to you, my most special friend.
I am thinking about a line of students from my last college lecture. Each of them waited to speak with me after class, which was amazing to me because class was three hours long.
They all thanked me in their own way. Most of them were crying.
And I don’t know what about.
I don’t know why.
I only know that had I listened to the wise ass comments about trying to be the next Shakespeare or if I listened to the critics instead of listening to you, I would never be where I am now.
Just remember that there are no friends like old friends.
And you and me go back like car seats.
Kindred . . .