My husband bought me a typewriter to help me feel better after my dog died. It sounds strange, I know. But there was little he could do to console me during those first few days and nights. There is actually little he can do now, nearly four months later, to console me. His is not to make me feel better, but to sit with me while I feel all the pain and yearning and bittersweet love that comes with grieving. He knows this and still he wants to do things that bring me joy.
We were nestled together, watching the documentary California Typewriter with Tom Hanks. Don’t misunderstand me here, most of what I watch are detective shows. But I love California with a deep running passion and I love words. So. Typewriter documentary. Tom Hanks sings the delights of writing a note on a typewriter – and even more wonderful, receiving a typewritten note. Send him one of those and he might write back. John Mayer bought one to write lyrics and fell in love with the cadence, and with the connection to himself. He discovered with typing that not only is there room for mistakes, mistakes are an integral and welcomed part of the process. There is no delete key, there is no self editing, you just type and make a mistake and keep on going. He noticed those mistakes will take you down paths of yourself otherwise unexplored. I had to try it. I sat up and said, “I want a typewriter.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve wanted one. I was walking down Congress Avenue, in the wet and sticky days of late May in Austin, with one of my best friends and most favorite people on this planet, and there, sitting in the fog of people and heat and humidity was a typing poet hawking his words. Give him a subject, any subject, and he would write a poem for you. My friend was intrigued and we watched, transfixed as this young man sounded out a poem on his keys. I thought at that time too, “I want a typewriter.”
Sometimes it takes a loss for us to find the pieces of ourselves we forgot we were looking for.
My typewriter sits in my art room, but cries out for her own table where I can sit down in a quiet corner and type whenever she calls to me. For now, she and I talk occasionally and what she asks of me are poems, unedited, uncensored. My thoughts pressed into the keys and indelibly into the paper.
When we open to the knowing that we’ll make mistakes, that it won’t be perfect, maybe not even good, we also free ourselves from fear.
And from that freedom, anything is possible.