The Sandbox

Amnesia, Art, Healing





I wake this morning to rain. And to knowing soon I’ll be out running in it. 

I’ve begun training again. 

I dreamed that one of my feet—or maybe it was a leg—no longer worked. 

But I was trying anyway, moving the limb without the normal set of nerves and muscles.  

It may be how Stella feels all the time—and maybe the reason for the dream.

How I love this now almost ten year old creature that lives with us; her limp and her lumps. Her bad breath. Her quiet, sweet temperament. Each day I walk I work to breathe in her funny gait. I work too to disallow grief around her gait to overcome me. I work to accept her with as much ease, and in-the-moment-ness as she does.

I wake this morning with rain. And with Pete sleeping to my right, my Sandbox, pages and pages of it now splashed up and out onto a website, Stella in the other room snoring. 

And in these moments, this cool, wet and grey morning, all the choices I’ve made to get me here feel…right. The soft rain, the soft grey palette I can see...and feel...feels right. 

We went yesterday to the art gallery and I saw five Joan Mitchell paintings. And what a thrill. It was the first time in my life to see this woman’s work in person, work I'd been admiring for a while now online. I was shocked to learn too that I was allowed to take pictures which I did; my photos so close I was nearly making out with her brush strokes. 


I fell in love with Joan Mitchell and with the idea of abstract painting about six months ago. The thought that complex work can be hung, appreciated—even loved—that it did not have to be bang-on, that it could be obtuse, evocative, loose—inspired me to view my own work, my Sandbox, the same way. 

People, I thought, might get my work—my Sandbox--might get me—and maybe I can begin to take my own self in as I would an abstract painting. 

Maybe I can loosen up and allow, toss away the round hole I’d been trying to fit my square peg into. I was trying for years to tell a tale of healing that was linear, from the inside out. 

When in truth, healing--and life itself for that matter--is so…abstract, obtuse, non-linear. 

If I can just do what an abstract painter does….feel, let go, let the paint do the talking...these were the thoughts that brought me to a place of eventually being able to visualize my work up and out where it begins to finally live and breathe in website format. 

“If I could say it in words, I’d write a book” was what Joan Mitchell would snap back when asked to speak about her work and her life. And it was this quote that seemed to taunt and depress me. I felt that despite all my words, the at the time seventeen volumes, that I couldn’t say it in words. That perhaps I would camp out right alongside Joan Mitchell with my work in clay and call it a day. 

But I’m not a visual artist that can speak only with her paints or her clay. 

I’m a writer who dips in each morning to see what comes out onto the page which is my canvas. I am writer I believe who just had to find the right venue, a place to grow, a place that was limitless, a place that would allow me to connect past with present and present with past. 

I can see too as I enjoy this rainy morning in bed before I go out and run and get wet, that I am a writer whose palette--whose life-- is changing before her very eyes. I am uncertain as to where I am headed, which paints I will choose or which paints will choose me. 

I just keep breathing. And keep allowing. 

Because there is, in truth, nothing else I can do.