In sports, they call it “the yips” – a sudden and inexplicable loss of fine motor ability. An athlete’s skills simply vanish – no more pitching strikes, serving aces, or shooting free throws.
I’ve had the yips. I lost my writing hand last fall and I’ve been beating myself up about it every day since.
Oh, I never stopped telling stories. I tell stories in my head every day. I tell stories while I drive, when I’m walking the dog, as I’m waiting for my daughter’s roller derby practice to end already.
In my head, I’ve written about the summer of the Nestea plunge at my grandma’s lake cabin. The tragic hair intervention my eighth grade friends staged for my out-of-control locks. The solitude I found nestled in a cove of wild grapevines, journal in hand, at the far corner of the Minnesota acreage I grew up on.
I’ve mind-written a long-form article called “400 Miles to Ohio with Jason Derulo” and part of a one-woman show called “What’s a Girl Gotta Do to Get a (Non-Alcoholic) Beer Around Here?”
And in my head, I’ve told the stories of the past year since I quit my day job. I have told these stories over and over as they’ve unfolded, in blog-sized bites that I can’t seem to transmit through to my keyboard. They have titles like:
- Lying in the Fetal Position Writing a Motivational Speech
- Spelunking with Children, ft. Hypomania
- My Cry for Help (or How Blue Cross Ruined My Winter)
- Badass Outpatient
- Trying to Find Happiness in a 12×12 Room of Depressed Appalachians
These are stories of a mom, interrupted. Of a downward spiral. Of sussing out just what rock bottom looks like (spoiler alert: there’s a moldy shower stall floor involved).
And there is a simple post of apology I’ve been meaning to write – to family, to friends, to students, to former colleagues. To all of you who have reached out to say you are there and you care.
That post is called: “I’m Sorry I Didn’t Return Your Phone Call or Reply to Your Facebook Message or Your Email or Even Your Text.”
I opened the front door to my inner self a week ago, surprised to find spring waiting for me on its stoop. I pulled on short shorts and vintage Frye boots. I carefully threaded my seventies-era hoop earrings through my ears. Digging around in the bottom of the bathroom drawer, I unearthed my make-up. I rifled through my stack of fedoras and chose the jauntiest.
With boot heels clicking, I picked my way along a cobblestone street to meet an online friend for the first time. I watched as she resolved from a profile picture into a real human being. We sat on the sun-dappled patio of an outdoor café. The air had just begun to hold on to its humidity, and the breeze smelled like hope.
I won an award today for writing. A BlogHer Voices of the Year award, affectionately known as the VOTY, for my post “The Layered Look Only Works When You Wear Layers,” about flashing my daughter’s taekwondo class. It’s my third VOTY in three years and my friend Bill has won three in three years and he’s a real writer, so I’m thinking, through the fog of my wintry doubt, that I might be too.