Words have always served as an escape for me, whether they were words someone else had written or words I penned myself. As a child, I read incessantly and when I wasn’t reading I was writing. That didn’t change as I got older. The only homework I ever completed in high school was my reading and writing assignments. It’s a wonder I graduated considering that I spent my entire 10th grade year in Ms. McQuade’s Geometry class writing poetry.
Words provided a place for me to hide from reality. I could dive into any book and be carried off to an island with a bunch of misfit adolescents or I could travel to the farm with Avery and play with Charlotte. There were no limitations to what I could do or where I could go. The only limitations I faced were the close of another book or the lack of a ride to the library.
When I wrote, I could create my own safe place. I could share my heart and not worry about ridicule or misunderstanding. I didn’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing or about people looking at me when I spoke. I was free to think and feel whatever I wanted. Words were my safe place.
Writing came naturally to me. It was just something I did. I used to think that when I grew up I’d move to the mountains of NC and write my days away. That was always my plan. Somewhere along the way, I got lost. Maybe not lost – that’s the wrong word. I ended up on a different road; a road that included diapers, night-wakings, a traveling husband and no time. Life dragged me out of my safe place and into a world full of terrifying and wonderful things.
This new world was a world I needed to see and to experience fully, without the safety of the written word. I’ve laughed and cried and been frustrated and loved more than I ever would have thought possible. My heart has been broken in two and it’s been healed with a tender kiss. I’ve met people whose gentle kindness has restored my hope. I’ve traveled to places more beautiful than words can describe or than a camera could capture. I’ve lived without my safety net.
Words are something different to me now. They are no longer my shield from harm or from pain. They are, rather, my freedom. My words allow me to share all that is in my heart; real and imagined. At one time, my words were used as a sword to slice through those who had hurt me. Now, they are a salve to apply to my wounds, as well as the wounds of those around me. My words, I pray, will be a safety net for some other scared, timid little girl. May they provide her with a glorious place in the sun, out of harm’s way.