Evicting the Tarantulas

My memory of the past is spotty. I journal every day – just three to four lines, nothing too remarkable. Some days, I go back and look at what I wrote last week, last month, two months ago and marvel at how distant a memory those times become in my mind. Like ancient history. I can barely remember doing those things, feeling that way, saying those things. Is everyone like that or is it just me?

My childhood memories almost feel like memories of what I’ve been told, not exactly real experiences. I’m always left questioning if something is a genuine memory or just the memory of a memory.

I do, however, remember playing alone most of the time. I lived in my own world and was sometimes shocked that people could see me when I felt so totally occupied by the narrator casting stories in my mind. I was an early reader and loved writing from the moment I could pick up a pencil. I wanted to have control of the story – leave my mark on it.

I don’t remember this but, when I was around four, my dad said he came home from work one day and found me at the kitchen table writing. My handwriting was so big and ungainly that just a few words filled the whole page. I was in a fury of frustration. I recognized my own ineptness but could do nothing to correct it. I hated misspelling words but I needed help almost constantly to get it right.

My dad said I was asking him word after word to spell. Finally I came to tarantula.

“Tarantula?” my dad questioned, surprised.

“Yes, how do I spell tarantula?”

I could tell when I wasn’t being taken seriously. I think all children can. And, I was forever being laughed at, marveled over.

Tears began coursing down my cheeks.

“Daddy, I have so many stories inside me, but I just can’t get them out.”

My dad tells this story with consummate laughter and maybe a sense of pride. He always knew I’d be a writer. And, it was true. I’ve never stopped with the stories – consuming or exhuming them.

What he doesn’t know is that I have never lost that feeling – the resentment of the help I need, the disgust of seeing my imperfections glaring up from the page, the shame of being unintentionally amusing, and the haunted suspicion that there is so much stored up in me, so many stories, but never any way to get them out.

I haven’t written consistently for about six months. My creativity felt like a well run dry. My confidence sunk lower in the ground. But, I’m beginning to see that writing may be the way back to me.

But, now I’m ready.

Let all the tarantulas out.

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