Once again we’re proud to present some of the writing coming out of our Sunday creative writing sessions. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as us. Many thanks to Connie Phlipot and Cece Donnerbauer for sharing their writing with us.
Do you know the feeling of just wanting to
by Cece Donnerbauer (ccinnervoice)
(Sunday writing prompt: How do you escape?)
You are so frustrated with a, b and c that the only solution you can think of is ‘just get the hell out of here’!
Up till a couple of years back, I was always trying to escape, to run away from my life.
I was trying to escape the norms of a catholic, conservative upbringing, trying to escape a tiny village where every move you made was being watched and judged by everyone, trying to escape the school system, trying to escape tradition, … the list is endless.
What I didn’t realize for a long time was, that actually, all I wanted to escape from was really just myself.
I have been wanting to escape my own life, myself and all that I am for almost 25 years. I started to grow the need, the urge, the desire to escape from who I was and all that I was feeling.
Years over years I have been blaming and looking for reasons on the outside as to why I wanted to escape. I have been blaming everyone and the world around me. If it wasn’t people, friendships, relationships, it was places, work places, living places and so on.
At some point though, I actually did manage to escape it and them all.
I moved away. Far away to a different country. I escaped.
I moved to a city with 8 million people. As busy and diverse as it could get. There was no chance that I could not find anything to distract myself with.
Well, the joke was on me because my big, liberating escape ended up with a nervous breakdown.
Yes, escaping myself, escaping my world, my surrounding, escaping all the people in my life ended
up with me running, running, running till I eventually broke down completely. Ironically, back into the arms of everything , and everyone I was running away from. Oh how angry I was. Angry, disappointed and sad.
What I thought to be my road to freedom turned out to be the road to living hell.
But… the road to living hell, the breakdown, the universal force that catapulted me back into the very roots of all I was escaping from finally brought me back to actually finding true and honest freedom.
Not the running away kind but the deeply satisfying, earth energy, trusting, loving kind of freedom. Freedom within myself.
So the one thing that I thought would heal me, free me,… escaping to a different country did turn out to lead me into the deepest pain I have ever experienced but actually, also turned out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me.
It is hard, and it takes time to be able to say, my biggest pain was my greatest blessing. You hear it everywhere, you read it oh so often, yet when you are living in it you can imagine seeing a unicorn on a high street better than you can imagine this pain being your biggest blessing. But… it is.
It was a force of good. It was what needed to happen so I couldn’t distract myself anymore. It was what needed to happen so I physically and mentally couldn’t escape any longer from meeting myself.
Oh I am so grateful, so deeply, truly, passionately grateful I went through all of what I did.
Crazy, even for myself to hear me say these words, to watch me type this sentence. I am in tears, grateful for all that I went through. Because without escaping, I would have never arrived where I am now.
Without following through the urge to escape, I would have never met myself.
Light does not exist without the dark. There wouldn’t be a day without a night and there wouldn’t be joy if there wasn’t pain.
We think, well, we also get told all around media platforms and bragging life stories, that the goal isto achieve joy, to achieve success without the struggle. It is a lie. Not just a lie, it is dangerous. Because when the shadows do come around, we don’t know how to cope with them.It is part of life.
It is the full circle. Yin and Yang.
Once we accept that going through the tough bits is not just unavoidable but NECESSARY to grow,to thrive and to end up where we want to end up, we realize the blessing that it is to go through it all.
Date with a Red Ballooon
By Connie Phlipot
(Sunday writing prompt: A woman goes on a date with a red balloon.)
“You’ll recognize him. Easily. He’s dressed in red.”
“But lots of people wear red, you know, after all it’s February. “
“Yes, well, but he’s different. A bit round.”
“Round? You mean he’s fat?” Juliet frowned. She knew it was unkind of her, prejudiced in fact, but she didn’t want a fat date. She was looking for someone to share her delight in running, hiking…
“No, No, I wouldn’t say that. It’s just his shape. You’ll understand when you see him.”
“Okay.” Juliet was not convinced.
“Really, he’s great. And, and, be prepared to soar!”
Juliet ran her mind around the last words. Soar? A pilot perhaps, or worse, a sky diver, or a hang glider enthusiast. That wouldn’t do. She couldn’t share those hobbies. She would be scared and dizzy. Her hands got clammy just thinking about being up in the air.
“Wait, wait, Marianne,” Juliet called back to her friend. “Maybe this isn’t a good idea.”
Marianne had disappeared behind the imposing red facade of the Renwick Building.
Juliet took a few breaths to calm down. She could do this, she told herself and walked into the Starbucks. Why had she agreed to meet here? She hated the bitter coffee, the fake friendliness of the baristas, the customers seeming to be about to disappear into their laptop screens. Why couldn’t they have met at Swing Coffee with its carved wooden bar and air of the old Washington?
Juliet looked around the false coziness of the coffee shop. A pink and blue candy studded frappe-chino whizzed by her head. What if this fat, red-dressed or maybe red-faced Roland was a frappe-chino drinker? or mocha latte with soya milk lover?
As she had anticipated many people were dressed in red. A girl with a cherry red sweater with sequins in the shape of a heart; a young man in a tight red pants showing off a firm ass; an elderly woman in a red wool hat — much too warm for the unseasonably sunny and pleasant February day. Beads of sweat trickled down the woman’s face threatening to drip into her large —red — paper cup.
In fact everyone except for Juliet was dressed in red. Moreover, all the seats were taken except for one. A child must have been sitting in that one — or a self-indulgent 20s something. A red balloon was tied to the back of the chair.
Juliet hesitated a moment but as her impatience took hold, she drew another long, deep breath and sat down in the empty chair.
“Oh, hello, I’m glad you found me.”
Juliet turned sharply in the direction of the voice, bumping her head against the balloon.
“Hey, do be careful.”
“Juliet turned in the opposite direction, looking for the source of the words.
“Oh come on now. Don’t be coy. Didn’t Marianne describe me to you?”
Juliet stood up looking around for a rounded person in red. No one.
“Obviously, not.” The voice continued.
Juliet tried to place the accent, as if that would help her located the person speaking. But the timber and pacing of the voice was like the male version of the automated phone call or Alexa.
“Just look at your chair. That’s me, bobbing — anxiously. After all, I didn’t know what to expect either.”
The balloon. The balloon was speaking. What kind of a joke was this? A ventriloquist must be projecting his voice into this balloon. Juliet gritted her teeth and started to put her coat back on.
“Now, come on.” The balloon voice softened. “Just give me a chance.” The balloon bent forward on its string and swayed from side to side. “Here, carefully untie the string. But keep a tight hold. I’m full of gas and inclined to rise to the ceiling.”
Okay, if this is a joke, I guess I’ll go along with it. What else do I have to do today?
The knot came undone easily. Juliet felt the tug of the balloon as it moved toward the ceiling. She pulled tighter and the balloon’s top came down to the level of her head.
“That’s much better. My string gets cramped tied up like that. Let’s get out of here. I don’t care much for this stuffy place, either.”
“It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?” The balloon continued. “By the way, your name is Juliet, right? “ Juliet nodded. “Marianne probably told you I’m Arnold, but I prefer to be called Nolo.”
“Um, Nolo, so, what do you do?”
The balloon laughed, a bubbly laugh like a just-opened bottle of prosecco. “What a thing to ask. You must be a Washingtonian! Come on, I’ll show you. Keep a tight hold on me and head down 17th Street.”
Juliet obeyed, feeling foolish at her age holding onto a child’ balloon. But no one looked her way. The usual serious-faced DC workforce, noses in their phones, were looking up at the pale blue sky and toward the Washington monument silhouetted against the bright sun like a giant child’s pencil.
“Okay, let’s go over to that high spot near the monument.” The balloon said. “Now, listen carefully. This is the only tricky part. I know you are a runner, so you can do this well. Run down the hill, not too fast, like you are about to start on a long, training run. Not a race.”
Juliet took a few long strides.
“Good, keep going, down toward the mall and slowly, slowly, let up on the string until you feel your feet lifting.”
Juliet stopped running and the balloon bumped into her head. “I can’t— I’m scared of heights.”
“Listen, try it — you’ll never know you are above the earth. The only time it’s dangerous is when they fly those damn kites during the Cherry Blossom festival. I was grounded for months when a killer kite — one whose tail was coated with broken glass — broke my string and nearly punctured my skin. “ He let out a bit of air and sunk a little lower. “But not to worry. No kites in sight. Now start running again. Your pace was perfect.”
Juliet swallowed hard, closed her eyes and loosened her grip. In a moment her feet were where her head had just been. Nolo was leading her forward, and up, now above the trees and over the Potomac. They headed up the river; Key Bridge passed below them and the grand buildings of the Georgetown University campus were off to their right.