On Thursdays, in Creative Writing, we do a "group activity/write". This gives everyone a chance to see the variety of ways one topic can be written about. As the year progresses, we have become a very cohesive group and emotionally bonded. So it was time for today's challenge: to be slightly more vulnerable and "expose" what normally is seen only by them - the contents of the bag/bookbag. A few giggled and said, "You know, Ms. K., tomorrow is 4/20; do you really want to see what's in my bag?" I told them I trusted them. Naturally I showed them what was in my bag too. We took turns talking about our possessions and then I told them their writing task for the day: Pick someone else's stuff and write what you think it says about them OR write about what your stuff says about you. One of my students said, "Could we also write about why one particular item is especially important to us?" "Of course", I said.
Here is what I wrote:
My "stuff" shows two sides I constantly try to put into balance lately. The practical side - the calculator, the wallet, the datebook, my "emergency" medications and the other side of me - the face compact, the chapstick, the emergency tampon, the hair pick - still trying to feel that despite my responsibilities and recent bad health, I am still a woman.
Noticably missing is the journal I used to keep in my bag at all times. I still feel its absence, like a good comforting friend who has moved to another country. In the midst of practicality, let's say it was a spiritual balance for me. And now I am adrift. I took it out of my bag when I started using the computer more to write and I felt the additional weight of the journal was not necessary. I jot down ideas and wait until I get home to "flesh out" my ideas. But instead of the weight being a burden, I feel more burdened by not having it with me. The texture and smell of the cover, the slightly yellowed pages that gave it an antique feel are no longer a part of my daily life. I thought the journal added a weight I didn't need to carry, but I was wrong.
Perhaps in order to feel whole again, it's not about the other things I carry around, but the space now left unfulfilled, where emotions, regrets and passion were unleashed with carefree abandon. I hear my inner voice and it's telling me to help the journal find its proper niche in the bag, and in my life, again.