Start by Starting

I don’t have to be perfect to tell a story and the story doesn’t have to be perfect to be told.


“Are you bored?” I asked him. My eyes went to the wine glasses we had filled with our alcohol-removed merlot. It was Valentine’s Day and he’d done what he always does to make an event special: he brought home steak.

“Bored of what?” he asked. “I ran all day.”

And he had. February 14th is a day filled with various colorful tasks for a freight and errand runner from The Angle: 20 pounds of steak for one of the local restaurants, sprockets and an axel for a resort, groomer parts, flowers, cards and gifts for last minute lovers. I could see the exhaustion in his eyes as he quietly chewed his dinner, and I could hear it in his tone as our sniffling, coughing 5-year old whined about something else not being exactly to her liking.

“Are you bored of not drinking?” I asked, trying a different approach. “Bored of our quiet home life? Bored of us?” I can so easily picture him, (and some nights, us) sitting on a bar stool, drink in hand, talking to whomever the bar has brought our way. Two years ago, he would have been out sharing stories and feeling the heartbeat of The Angle in the flow of the tourism, in the steadily-opening bar door and the ever-changing company that would inevitably buy him another round in hopes of hearing the whereabouts of a crappie tree somewhere out beneath the ice.

“Are YOU bored?” he countered, as he always does. I should expect it by now; if I ask him a question he asks it right back of me.

“No,” I answered honestly.

“What are you then?” he asked. We were finishing dinner. Half of the ribeye lay uneaten on my plate. The wine juice looked and smelled real but didn’t taste the same or have the same excitement.

“I feel like I’m waiting,” I said finally.

“Waiting for what?”

I shrugged and changed the topic. “What game should we play tonight?” The normally boisterous and opinionated kiddo wandered off to blow her nose and curl back up in our bed. He grabbed his Kindle and assumed his position on the coach in front of the fire.

And I sat there wondering what WAS I waiting for?

A week earlier, at the suggestion of a dear friend, I had a conversation with my anger. The dialogue was very real, and surprise, anger has a lot to say. Especially anger that, for years, has been squelched, denied, deemed inappropriate, unladylike, unbecoming, irrational or just plain pointless at all turns. This is what my friend told me to do: Sit down with your journal and make friends with the anger. It has deep and important wisdom for you. Here’s what that looks like: Describe your anger as a character. Paint the scene of where your conversation is taking place. Then transcribe the conversation, which starts with Kellie saying to Anger, “Hello. What are you here to tell me?” And when Anger has shared everything it’s here to say, you respond “Thank you.”

I did the exercise, and I got exactly to the root of it, and quite quickly.

It felt prophetic.

Anger had some very choice words for me. The message, in a nutshell, was to START. I have been procrastinating, waiting, playing the victim, and wasting my time and life. I came to this beautiful, quiet place. I found my loving. supportive man. I have my five-year-old muse. I’ve delayed and delayed, thinking everything needs to be just-so, thinking I needed to have all the answers. But Anger told me that I don’t have to be perfect to tell a story and the story doesn’t have to be perfect to be told. Anger told that me that when Fear comes, it’s to be used as another tool. And when I balked again, Anger asked (in all caps) if I wanted to do this hard thing or if I wanted to stick to my course of easy, whining victimhood that I so despise in everyone else.

Anger told me to JUST START.

And so, on Valentine’s Day, when we couldn’t go out as planned because our kid was too sick, I started. I sat down with pen and paper – why I chose longhand, I don’t know – and I wrote the first few paragraphs of a story I’ve been wanting to tell for over a decade. That’s as far as I got and that was enough for that night.

Eventually Iris wondered back in and set up a little drawing station with her colored pencils and paper. Tony kept to his reading and I stayed with my old journal. We were all in our separate worlds right there in that cozy room, the swirling winds of change just outside the window.

There wasn’t anywhere else I would have rather been. Not on any bar stool, not at any fancy restaurant drinking the finest real wine. I wanted to be right there, right here. Starting. Using fear, using anger, using that dreaded waiting feeling to do what must be done. Just start.

(Published in the Feb 20th, 2018 issue of the Warroad Pioneer)


Author: Angle Full of Grace

A writer, woods-wanderer, and internal peace seeker who raises two free-range children in the wilderness, I escaped the wasteland of corporate America a few years back never to return. I write about love, family, mental health, addiction, parenthood and personal growth all through lens of place and connection to the land. Most entries are my weekly column for our local small-town newspaper, and there's an occasional feature story thrown in the mix as well.

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