Piles of Paper
They are pink sticky notes and lined pages ripped from notebooks. They are scribbles on the back of receipts and one line killing a whole page of white. Sometimes neat but mostly sprawling and hurried handwriting. They are words that speak to me; ideas I want to use in some way. They come from everywhere: strangers talking on a bus, the words of my parents, advice from writers, quotes from books and movies. There are so many things I hear or read in a day that I don’t want to lose. I don’t know what to do with these random piles of paper — a kind of scattered diary — but I know they are important. I save them in folders and in a drawer and in several boxes under the bed. And for long periods of time I forget about them, and how much they mean to me. And then I take them out and go through them and something is lit within me and I’m frantic about getting back to it. But back to what? Back to looking fondly into the past and then shoving them back under the bed until I remember them again? I don’t know if they’ll ever be of any use but the compulsion to write it all down is never ending.
Sometimes they’re my words; mostly they belong to other people:
“Grief turns out to be a place none of us knows until we reach it” – on a pink sticky note; from a Joan Didion book
“Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough.” – a type-written piece of paper filled with George Bernard Shaw quotes
“You cannot start a sentence with ‘but’ unless you have a college education.” – scribbled in a college journalism binder
“She went limp, her breathing was really shallow. I thought her airway was blocked. Can you breathe? She wouldn’t respond.” – on the back of a grocery receipt, I mindlessly wrote out a conversation I had about my grandma
and so many more: