UBC Day 1: Rough Starts Yet Nostalgia Reigns

So here I am again, two years to the day that I tried the last blog challenge where I was supposed to write thirty days in a row. If I were more organized…but I’m not, so that thought isn’t even worth finishing.

When I thought about doing this yet again, I had so many self-deprecating things that I could have said about how sometimes I don’t finish what I start. But instead, I asked myself how I could make this a sustainable challenge for me that would be fun and not like homework. Dreading making a post isn’t a good way to keep the momentum.

The idea came to me suddenly, and then I realized with dismay what it would require. I love to write. I role-play on a multi-user domain (MUD) and have for years. I participated in a writing competition last year. I have a smattering of posts on this blog which shows that I enjoy putting words to the screen. My problem is that I worry about what others will think, that maybe they’ll see me as a talentless hack, or boring!

Sharing my writing feels more vulnerable to me than sharing that I was in a residential program for mental health back in 2020 because I was in crisis. I would almost rather pick apart those feelings and share that journey than allowing others to see my writing feels so incredibly personal and raw.

I’m going to share it anyway. I have been wanting to make more time for writing, and I hope using writing prompts will be a good way to jump start that. So, I will be sharing prompts from this really cool website I discovered as well as from this book that a friend purchased for me.

My plan is to write for twenty minutes and try to follow the prompt as best as I can. If I want to write longer, I will, but it won’t be shorter than twenty minutes.

In that residential program, I learned to ask myself the curious questions and to take myself on an exploration of my thoughts, feelings, and imagination. So, my very loose theme is going to be all about creative endeavors as I traverse the landscape of my mind. This is terrifying for me because it will show me as raw and uncensored. I feel vulnerable, but I’m going to lean in to that. This is why I am choosing not to edit any of the prompt writing save for spelling because it’s okay to show that both I and my writing are unpolished and rough around the edges. I don’t always have to be put together.

If you’d like to write along to this prompt, please feel free. Let’s enjoy this journey together.

Now, to the prompt!

What stories would you most like to share about the town that you’re from?

I grew up as a military brat, with my mother in the army. I spent formative elementary school years in Maryland, the gentle steps of teenager years in Georgia, and finally, the bulk of my adult years in Washington State. Each place owns a piece of my heart in some way. Each place has shaped me in to the person that I have become. Each location has taught me things about myself. I have both good and difficult memories, all of which form the puzzle that is me.

When I lived in Maryland, I attended elementary school and already knew how to read Braille. I remember long, lazy summer days hanging out with my teacher’s aide at her house or with family. I excelled in school because of the support of my parents and teachers. I see that time as an idyllic experience for the most part.

My stories involve long days of only ever wanting to read. Reading stories in a tape recorder to send to my mom who was currently stationed overseas in Korea as I asked things like, ‘so mom, what do you think of that part? Can you believe this happened? What are your thoughts of what happened when I was on page 30 of this book?’ I am so glad that those tapes do not exist, but it certainly showed my willingness to engage with material.

It was the first time that I cried over a movie, Charlotte’s Web by the way, and the first time I sobbed over a book that was read out loud by my teacher. I never could bring myself to ever reread ‘Where the Red Fern Grows’, and I’m not upset about that at all.

Georgia was a turning point for me in so many days. Hotter summer days with good friends. The excitement of walking to a gas station by ourselves, ordering Cokes and one dollar candy bars. Doing some extremely wild things as a teenager that I will never admit because I know family can read this blog!

My grades slid away from the honor roll because I was bored by the material and developed the ability to procrastinate with ease.

I experienced a great deal of trauma from church, but I also found some great joy and solace. Double edged sword, indeed.

I grew up quickly but still had the ability to make some astoundingly stupid decisions. I loved to write poetry, but a poetry analysis class killed those dreams dead.

I’m still friends with those whom I attended school with and their faith and belief in me shaped me as well. To those I met when I was in middle school before transitioning to a school for the blind, I was just their friend. Blindness was never a factor. Slumber parties, putting our bras in the freezer, and my attempting to make a grilled cheese sandwich using a friend’s curling iron was just how we did things.

I learned about tolerance and people having different beliefs than I did. I learned how to respect what others said and to listen. I learned about love in its myriad forms because teachers were brave enough to present material that some would believe was inappropriate.

And I always have to wonder if the story of a man murdering his friend one drunken night by pushing him in a bed of fire ants while he was drunk and leaving him there was actually true or just an urban legend.

Washington rounded out my education with more stories than my timer is allowing at the moment. I learned how to open my heart to even more love, experienced more church hurt, experienced some church healing as well. I learned to be more assertive and how to truly laugh at myself, which I do often. There are so many stories that I could tell, so many laughs to pass around. This place encapsulates the term ‘Found family’ in a myriad of ways.

Spending many nights in karaoke bars, singing in choirs, going to massage school and ending up landing a job that has nothing to do with that, and feeling like I grew up in a specific blindness organization has helped me gain a lot of confidence. Of course, we also cannot forget the story of not paying attention to where I was going, tripping over a curb, and landing in the next level of a parking lot, my white chocolate triple shot mocha gaining altitude and then coming down in a spectacular, liquid-spraying crash.

While I was on the path of independence, I learned how to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I have learned that my inability to plan for contingencies is just a part of who I am. I have embraced the fact that I’m probably not going to reach perfection, but if I have a story to tell, then it’s going to be okay.

I have two minutes left on this timer and feel like I haven’t truly done my prompt justice. I’ve become even more of a book worm now than I ever was in the past. Music still pulses steadily through my veins as it ever has, and my story, this wonderful story of where I live now? It isn’t over and I still have the opportunity to keep writing more and filling the book of my life with chapters.

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