I had a very novel experience writing this assignment. Writing this was different than writing anything else I have ever written before. I had just arrived back in Amsterdam after a very action packed 10 day trip to the US visiting with family and friends. Exhaustion, impressions, and emotions overwhelmed me. I was in no shape to write. But I had an assignment from class. I had to write. But I couldn't write. I wrestled with the assignment. I squabbled with it. We argued for hours. I walked away, came back, started fresh. I had ideas, but nothing would stick. I honestly felt like I came up with nothing. I had never been in the situation where I was obliged to write. Previously I wrote when I had time and felt like it. Now there was a deadline and a class of my peers looming.
Inexplicably, this piece received very positive reviews from my fellow writers. Reading this piece in the workshop allowed me to see it in a different light. I understood that the habits and techniques I had cultivated as a writer were not necessarily the correct items for my Toolbox. That I could write from a distance and not from emotions. I had taken a completely different approach to writing, and it worked. I was baffled, but as I processed what had happened, I felt free.
At a time where life is pivoting in unexpected directions, there is no way to describe the opportunity to spend a couple hours every Wednesday evening, surrounded by books, enveloped by words, sipping tea, sharing ideas, scribbling notes, putting pencil to paper, and laughing. To be able to explore my creativity, writing, and emotions among such a supportive and caring group of people...
The assignment was to describe the experience of someone the first few hours/days after a life changing event. So here it is:
It was the morning after the Big Night, and Chloe was bewildered. She couldn't comprehend that was it. She was left wondering what all the fuss was about, anyway. D had spent months and months convincing her. He said they loved each other. And were going to be together forever. And seventeen was old enough. And what was the big deal anyway. After that it took another several weeks to find a time and a place to be alone. All the anticipation. All the build up. And that was it?
He had snuck out hours ago. He didn't want to be anywhere near her house when her parents got home. Strangely, Chloe resented him for running off afterwards. She knew it was what they had agreed upon, but now it somehow seemed callous and cowardly.
Laying on her single bed, Chloe looked around at the pink walls of her childhood bedroom. When she was eight years old she had begged and pleaded and cried until her parents finally gave in. Her father spent a weekend painting it pink, and Chloe had helped as much an eight year old could. She had been so proud. Growing up in that bedroom was like being wrapped in her father's warm arms and her mother's pink glow. Chloe glanced over at the window seat where she could practically see the ghosts of her younger self and her friends playing with dolls. It seemed like a lifetime ago.
Chloe got off the bed and looked in the mirror. She carefully examined her reflection, and was surprised she didn't look any different. Chloe was even more surprised she didn't feel any different. A small voice in her head mused about what a woman supposed to look like.
But D seemed to be changed by it. All he wanted to do was talk about it. And figure out when they could do it again. Chloe couldn't understand him. He seemed like a stranger to her now, which she thought was weird because weren't they supposed to be closer than ever before? She felt cheated.
As she pondered all this, Chloe was inundated by a wave of emotions. It seemed a wellspring of anger and frustration was building up inside of her. She wanted to scream and shout and cry but it all seemed to be stuck in her throat. She threw herself back onto her bed, burying her face into her bedsheets, thinking the smell of fresh laundry would be comforting. Instead, all she could smell was him and the evidence of the Big Night. Disgusted, she turned onto her back.
The hours and days after the Big Night seemed to stretch themselves out in front of her endlessly. Chloe could not fathom how she could possibly face her parents at breakfast in the morning. How did a woman have breakfast? Nor could Chloe think about facing her girlfriends, who all knew about the Big Night, and would want to hear all about it. Usually Chloe would bask in the glow of their attention. She was the sort of girl who needed to be seen, known, recognized, and fawned over. But not today. All Chloe wanted today was to hide. She had never felt the need for privacy or her own company before and it frightened her.
It seemed as though in one night, Chloe had become the ballerina she had always wanted to be. She was a ballerina dancing pointe. Spinning and spinning and spinning. It seemed while she was busy spinning her life had pivoted in a direction she had never anticipated. It was like while the ballerina was busy spinning they changed all the scenery on stage around her. Or maybe they had switched out dancers, keeping the stage the same. Whatever it was, Chloe knew everything was different. Now her life had two distinct parts – Before the Big Night and After the Big Night.
Her head spinning with all these thoughts, she rushed into the bathroom and threw up.