Today, I find myself laid up on the couch, swollen ankle propped up on an old folded quilt and some small pillows. (Should be better in a day or two doc says, so, dear reader, don’t worry, I’ll be back to my old tricks in no time at all.)
Falling off a stepladder yesterday had oddly given me some much needed ‘time-off’ to work on the projects nearest to my heart. I’ve been catching up on the ‘War Letters’ that I am inspired to turn into a play. I have managed to narrow it down to my four favorites from each grandparent. Now to intersperse them into a bit of a script…
Since I can’t really walk or do much of anything, I am forced to be focused. This means: no cleaning to distract me, no exercise, no errands to run, no time off of working on this to go to work, only time, and space, to really work. I might even have a first draft by the end of the day…
I find myself surprised at how glad I am to have an opportunity to stay focused. In a world where there is never enough time or money or space, it is ever increasingly difficult to get done what needs to get done.
So, I have been reading their sweet and honest love letters. I am learning about the real people my grandparents were back in the 1940’s. I am falling in love with their slang, their sentimentality, and the fact that they poured their hearts out to each other with complete abandon. Sending their love thousands of miles on either side of an ocean. They wrote letters to each other every single day of the war. There are over five hundred that made it the half century since and I have only managed to read a quarter of that. But that is enough for inspiration. Enough for something beautiful. Something magical. Something uniquely human about this story.
The biggest thing I am learning from reading these letters, is something very, very small.
In life, the strongest memories are usually of an instance. The way an eye twinkled in the the sun as a sudden breeze tossed a lock of hair. The way a dimple would crop up telling us that a smile would follow. The smell of pipe smoke fading across time and a memory of a moment in a house. Saturday nights twirling in a tiny kitchen. The crackle of a radio on. These are the bits within the letters that capture my imagination. Not only because they draw a picture of a specific memory, but because there is something lovely and magical in their retelling of it to each other. As if, somehow, through the distance of space and time, they were able to share a unique and intimate perspective on a moment and how deeply personal and moving even the tiniest of memories could be. But why share that? There is something about finely crafting an intricately detailed story that pulls the reader or listener closer. Perhaps their detailed letters were serving as a link across the miles. A chain. Drawing them together even if they were battlefields, countries, half a world, and an ocean apart.