Given the sudden excess of time I find myself with lately, which is unlike anything I’ve ever had in my adult life, I started reading the December issue of The Sun magazine last night. This means that November is in the pile right behind it, and October after that. Out of the past five months’ worth of issues, the only one I made time to read as soon as it came through the door was November. I turned to the Readers Write section first, as I always do, but this time I was motivated by something more than the general desire to read.
This time, something I’d written was in it.
My name, in print, as well as the city I live in, holding on their shoulders two tiny but mighty inches of columned writing which I submitted long enough ago that I’d forgotten I’d done so.
Consistently, my favorite feature in The Sun is their Readers Write section. In it, the magazine invites it’s readers to submit thoughts on a certain topic, which range from ‘The Backyard’ to ‘Going Home’ to ‘Dinner’, and dozens upon dozens in between. From time to time, I like to look at the topics and either choose one which speaks to me or, if I’m up for a challenge, one that doesn’t, and write what comes to mind. Sometimes, I submit them and then go about my life, writing for this blog, or that blog, or sometimes even that blog, that long-ago submission slipping away under all of the other words and duties and conversations which, when all built up on top of each other equal enough to bury any ambitious few minutes I found seven months ago a hundred times over.
When I got the letter letting me know that my piece might be in the next issue, I swooned. I have been subscribing to The Sun since 1998, after a man I was dating went out for coffee and came back with the 25th Anniversary issue as a gift for me. “This looked like something you might like,” he said, gently tossing it down on the futon where I lay reading. I’d just moved to Oakland, California via three months in Australia via a year in Monterey which I’d landed in after a long drive from my home in Michigan. I’d never subscribed to a magazine before and worried it wouldn’t be able to keep up with all of my moving around. As it turns out, it has been the one consistent thing in my life since then.
Just before moving an hour or so north of Oakland to Healdsburg in 2000, I was published in the Readers Write section for the first time. The topic was ‘Getting Dirty’. When I read it, my hands shook and my eyes welled a bit before I inhaled my emotions, as is my habit. I was honored and shy about this thing which, to me, was larger than life. I felt the exact same way when looking at the November 2015 issue, seeing my name there under my small contribution.
In the grand scheme of things it’s kind of a teensy little section of a section…but I’m still thrilled to be there. Just like with the first time 15 years ago, I had to breathe back tears while reading it there, in print. Because anyone who reads The Sun knows that the Readers Write prompts aren’t just prompts. They’re memory excavators. They are seeds. And once they are planted, something grows, and maybe you write a little blurb of a recollection which then gets heavily edited and really, what you’re left with is the kernel of heavy emotion you didn’t even realize was there, inspiring you to pick up that prompt in the first place.
And for that, I am thankful.