According to Merriam-Webster a purist is defined as, “ a person who adheres strictly and often excessively to a tradition.”
This I am not!
You see I had this whole idea in my mind how my Writer Sundays would go. For those of you who haven’t read my Writer Sunday Bylaws, Writer Sunday was established as a sacred writing time that I would maintain consistently each Sunday after church. Sundays, traditionally, have held numerous occupations in my life. Laundry day, Hallmark or Lifetime Channel movie day, Fellowship day, the Sabbath and even Mommy Do Everything to prepare for the week or we’ll be living out of laundry baskets and fast food restaurant day. However, in this new phase of my life after turning 40, I’ve decided to once again return to writing. All roads in my life lead or extend from writing, and this was yet another attempt at being true to this calling, passion, tormenting temptress.
I wanted these Writer Sundays to be pure! Pure in the sense that they belonged to me and my devotion to them would express my true love and admiration for writing. Not to mention how can I teach about how powerful the written word is, and write about how valuable the written word is, if I never actually honored it by writing.
So let the honor show forth throughout all the land as a reflection of my devotion.
I know it seems a little Old English pretentious, but the purist in me wanted this Writer Sunday to sound the clarion in just that way.
Each Sunday after church, I would immediately head to my local main library in the heart of downtown symbolizing the special memories I carry of my childhood library visits. This downtown, nor this library resembled little if at all, of the one I hung out in every Wednesday afternoon with my sister due to early dismissal teacher professional development days. The library I visited as a child was located in a large Metropolitan City. It encompassed wonder, mystery and adventure and led me to discovering a true love that has lasted a lifetime. Books.
It was, and still is today, located in the heart of Downtown Detroit across from the world famous Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit Science Center and amongst Wayne State University Campus. It was stories high with marbled floors and walls, as well as rod iron gates and monumental wood and metal doors that were engraved with profound script. The walls of this captivating place enveloped carvings protected by stature and green patina. The stairs which led to the entrance were intimidating with their depth and breath and stone lions which welcomed you to take a closer look and perhaps even frolic awhile amidst the gardens, if you could overcome your fear of them. These memories represent a purist experience to the umpteenth power for me.
Yet in stark contrast, my current library is located on the outskirts of a four block downtown that housed the Capitol Building and numerous municipal resources. No marbled wall or etched stone, just three steps up and through theft proof sensor detectors inside. The building has two main floors that could be circled in ten minuets flat with not enough quiet workspaces and far too many computer game enthusiasts. The library I visited as a kid had so many private study spaces; I actually received my first kiss in one.
Nonetheless the purist in me wanted to make this endeavor profound in nature. Therefore, I decided as long as the weather was nice I would ride my shiny, red Schwinn with the basket on the front and my writing supplies neatly tucked inside. This bike was a gift from my husband. This made it even more conducive to an element of purity. I even have an old fashioned metal bell to chime in case some squirrel happened along my path. The bike ride was definitely a nice touch to the tradition and perhaps if I were a little more in shape, the huffing and puffing would have been at a minimum as I trekked up the ever-inclining terrain. The bugs flying into my eyes were also a little annoying, but at this point I’m still holding on to the euphoric experience.
As I arrive I decide to add another dimension to my experience that would delight my senses. Caveat Emptor: Please don’t try this at home, I’ve been actually doing it since the age of fifteen, but when you Google it, it receives a tremendous amount of bad press. Therefore I don’t recommend, it but I decided to head over to the nearby Subway and buy a cup of ice. Yes, ice, some write with a glass of wine or a shot of Bourbon, maybe even after a spot of tea to assist in the coaxing of the soul to write afresh and with fervor. I couldn’t believe it; one stinking cup of ice at Subway cost me $1.60. But I figured if it helps the purist muses to awake then so be it.
Finally I locate a place to lock my bike and enter the library. Deciding to head straight for the second floor where all the serious patrons are situated, to my dismay there are no available seating. I walk up and down the rows to discover that twenty chairs, under each of the five spaced apart by six inch, tables are occupied. Even the four private cubby desks have someone housed within. I circle once or twice more wishing, hoping, demanding that someone notice that a purist who happens to be a writer has stepped into the room and must honor this Writer Sunday with the proper seating. Perplexed, I wrestle with the fact that no one obviously understands that this seat will become infamous for its ability to capture my creativity and harness it into a New York Times Best Seller. My mind begins to scream, “Don’t you understand, a Purist has to be true to time, space, and aesthetics. Everything has to be perfect to create.” Upon my second pass, I decide to cop a squat in the back among the biographies of such greats as Richard Nixon. Nice spot, however I wished it housed a small table and chair bistro style for one. I even considered bringing one the next time and setting it up. Yet, until then the floor would do just fine for me. Plus, I was told an author writes his best sellers in a small closet. If he can create greatness in a closet, surely the floor will do just fine for me.
As the research portion of my Writer Sunday begins, I get carried away with the chomp, chomp, chomping, slurp, slurp, slurping of ice and before too long, I’ve received several evil stares and directed huffs from a few patrons not far away.
Afraid my ice tradition will be discovered, I gulp down the final bit nearly choking to death and decide my butt hurt way too much to continue to sit on the floor, not to mention, I’m Forty now and I may not be able to get back up if I stay down too long.
I notice a seat has opened up at a wooden table circa 1970 and I lay out my materials to begin writing. However, the ice which turned to water beckons and I must pack everything up again to head to the nearest Ladies’ Room. Once I return, distraction gets the best of me and I can now hear the flush of the toilet and even someone taking a dump. Oh, how very gross for a writer of my esteem. Once again, I pack my things and head to the one place I know best. The Children’s Section! The hubbub of the Children’s section called my name and before you know it; there I was comfortably writing amidst the sound of children everywhere. I know what you’re thinking, how could you ever write anything in the Children’s section. Simple. It’s the genre I love to read and write the most, not to mention for the past eighteen years it has been the section I have most visited as a mother and a teacher.
I finally get into my article, Teacher Lost, and the experience I noted in More Than A Beyoncé’ Song occurs and I find myself no longer writing, but half playing, teaching, interacting with a one year old and his three or four year old brother. They read with me at least ten big children’s books including my nineteen year old daughter’s favorite Curious George, and my youngest daughter’s, The Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear.
It was such a joy! And although his speech was delayed, I told him how intelligent he was over and over, and his smiles and repeated high fives told me Thank You.
Before I knew it, the library was closing and my family would be waiting on a Sunday dinner so I decided to head home. The bike ride was not just easy, but actually exhilarating as I raced downward with the five o’ clock breeze in my hair and a lite prayer in my heart. I didn’t feel sadness for the lack of writing completed but joyful for the overall experience of pursuing a lifelong friend found in writing, helping a mother and reading to a child. When I returned home I chuckled over the lack of “Purity” within the first Writer Sunday, started dinner and wrote incessantly for two and a half hours declaring:
There Is No Purist Here!