The other day I was on a plane en route to home where I truly wanted to be. My backpack was wedged into the overhead bin and tucked under the seat in front of me was a bag of edibles for my family. I was tired. I had traveled across many states in less than a week (thank you SFWC: 2014!) and had found myself face-to-face with an impromptu business trip upon my immediate return home.
As I sat there I tried to doze but too excited about getting home and resting in my own bed surrounded by my husband and kids, I couldn't. So as it tends to do, my mind wandered. It eventually landed on the WoW blog event scheduled for March 4. A blog event on sisterhood in honor of promoting Therese Walsh’s new book titled The Moon Sisters.
I’ll be honest –until I had seen this event talked about on Twitter, I hadn't heard of WoW or this author or this book. I can be a little slow on the up take. My apologizes. But now that I’d heard about it and my mind had wandered all over creation on this last hour long flight before I would touch down in my hometown and be reunited with the folks I longed to see and had been missing for a wretched long 24 hours –it was all I could think about.
And as the concept of this blog event filtered through my being, it occurred to me: What if I can’t think of anything to write? So, I decided to focus on that for a bit. I thought about sisterhood and what it means to me as well as what it doesn’t mean. I experienced an array of emotions –sadness, happiness, confusion, frustration, etc. You know all the emotions that sisters evoke in us. Or at least in me.
Then, just before the flight attendants walked down that center aisle to pass out beverage cups and miniscule snacks, it hit me. Exactly what I needed to write about. Has that ever happened to you? When out of nowhere, the exact words you need to describe the feeling in your soul hit you like a lightning bolt? It was compelling. Thought provoking. I was overcome with the burning desire to put pen to paper and word vomit exactly how I felt about my own sister.
But I had nothing. No pen. No paper, except for that little cocktail napkin that the attendants present you with when they hand out that snack I was telling you about. My breath came in short gasps. My mind reeled at how foolish I had been to put the food I was bringing home within closer reach than my 14 pens/pencils that were stowed neatly in the little front pocket of my backpack! What had I done?
My brain considered all of my options while, like a mantra, I repeated all the words I could think of about this sisterly blog I was determined to pen. Alternating like a deranged record album were thoughts of “do I dare get up and risk that the items in the overhead may have shifted during the flight in order to get my precious writing utensils” & the opening line I knew I had to use for this blog entry “I met my sister Tonya long before I knew I needed one”. Back and forth, over and over. It was a good thing no one was seated directly to my left or s/he might have thought me in need of emergency medical care. …I wonder if someone had been sitting there if s/he would have had a pen I could borrow.
Anyway, I was losing it. Fast. My cell phone was on the final 10% of battery life so I couldn't rely on it to store my thoughtful prose. All I had was an unused cocktail napkin in front of me. And even that had print on both sides of it, flaunting the airline’s incredible service…and total lack of notebooks/pens in the seat pocket in front of me.
And then I spotted it. Two rows in front of me and directly across the aisle was a woman who was…writing! She had a pen! And reams of paper in front of her that she was using to jot down letters and words and sentences. Oh how envious I was! Did I dare reach forward to tap the gentleman sitting right behind her to ask if she had a spare pen and paper? Would he be able to hear me over the drone of the plane’s engines? It didn't seem likely, but I was considering making the attempt.
Just as I was mustering up the resolve to do so, something to my right caught my eye. It was another pen. And it was much closer to me. Wonder of wonders –what possessed these people to carry their pens on their being while I, a writer of all people, had tucked mine away thinking the muse would not strike me in this hour high above the Earth??
The man sitting between me and this gorgeous pen was deeply involved in a hand held video game. I was struck with the thought of asking him to ask his lady seat partner to: PLEASE LET ME BORROW HER PEN. But I have teenagers. I know the angst they experience if a solitary second of their gaming is interrupted. All hell breaks loose.
But then the woman, the owner of this beautiful pen interrupted the man herself! He calmly responded to her. He didn't get angry. The world as we know it continued to spin on its axis even as his game went unattended for about fifteen seconds.
As I was about to hyperventilate, I steeled my fraying nerves and reached over. Speaking just loudly enough to be heard, I asked him “Could you ask her if I can borrow her pen?” When he gave me a quizzical look, I gestured to his seat mate and mimed using a pen. As understanding seeped through his brain, he tapped the woman with the pen. Relayed my message.
And she said YES!!! When he handed me that beautiful pen full of ink, I could have cried! I was so relieved to have something to write with. Now the only question was: what would I write on? My arm? The back of a magazine? Neither seemed right.
Examining my unused napkin more closely, I peeled the layers apart and was rewarded. Inside laid two tiny squares of pure white writing space. I pressed the napkin lovingly onto the tray in front of me. Blinking back tears of relief and awe at this wondrous place to write my beloved blog entry, I used that woman’s pen and wrote.
Words poured out of me. I blinked back tears as I thought about my sister and silently thanked the good Lord for putting this remarkable woman with the wonderful ink pen so close to me on the plane. And when it was over…I made a mental note to self. What a writer needs is not food tucked under the seat in front of her on a plane ride. What a writer needs is a pen (maybe two…just in case) and a blank canvas tucked into the palm of her hand. Always at the ready for when the muse strikes. A writer must be ready.