Happy New Year, friends. The photo above was shot from my favorite spot in Florence, Bascilica San Miniato Al Monte. I will be sharing more photos of sweet Firenze very soon, but this post is not about photos. It's about words.
I really needed writing today. If you write regularly, you know what it feels like to stop everything, open a note on your phone or grab any paper in sight, and write the words as they scroll across the marquee that is your brain. You'll stop everything, if even an ounce of what you need to say could become something. It often happens to me as I'm trying to fall asleep or I'm in the shower. You hold up your end of the bargain and you write it down. You get out of bed. You get out of the shower. You owe it to writing. And I owe a lot to writing.
My life has always been about words penned to paper. Words physically seen with my eyeballs. Words I held in my hand. This morning, I opened one of many untitled google docs from my drive. Some have a few sentences, others have paragraphs. Occasionally, I’ll dive into them again, not knowing what to expect, but thinking that maybe they’ll produce something. Mostly, they don’t. This time, they did.
I read on the page, “Keep your head down and write. Keep it away from likes or reads or clicks. Keep it down and give it your best. Be authentic. Show up to this blank page. Keep your head down and write.”
This morning when I read it, I knew deep down that I loved writing. I loved sharing my story. Words penned to paper have been the formative moments of my life.
Luke and I were friends for years before we ever felt something more. It was words penned to paper that changed everything. (And a Darth Vader mask, but that’s another story.)
The first letter I ever wrote to him was penned from Florence, Italy, sitting on a simple, wooden park bench outside Galleria dell'Accademia. I was waiting to go in and see Michelangelo's iconic sculpture of David. It was hot. I remember being upset because I smudged the ink.
I was four days in to four months of finishing school in Italy. The letter was short -- perhaps whimsical and nonchalant, but to sum it all up with a few words, it said this: I don’t know why, but I wish you were here. I really fought the urge to swallow words back down my throat and keep them hidden forever. A letter arrived in my Cortona mailbox a few weeks later. “Move to Nashville,” it read. We wrote sporadically after I came home and 5 months later, I moved to Nashville.
Maybe I use words on paper because that’s what my dad does. And that’s what he did for me my whole life. He’s not much of an affectionate talker, but when he writes to me, I crumble. And I can remember multiple moments of my life -- breakdown moments -- that involved letters from my dad. I still have every single one.
So, it’s always been words penned to paper for me. I never thought that I communicate well just talking out loud, but I think I say what I really mean on the blank page. I always carefully consider the words I write. Even so, carefully considering my words does not alleviate the fact that I might still mess something up. Words can hurt, too. In high school, I ruined a friendship with words I wrote on paper. It was an unfortunate way to learn not everything I write needs to be heard. Another forming moment.
Words brought the good too. The best, in fact. I took pen to paper to ask my best friends to be my bridesmaids. I used pen and paper to say goodbye to dear friends I made at an unexpected job in the realms of slow utilitarian fashion after two challenging years in the classroom. Because those people, in that studio, gave me my soul back and reignited a desire in me to create things, and I needed them to know, with my pen to the paper.
I used words penned on paper to Luke on our wedding day. He used them right back. And no matter how many times in our relationship we physically pushed our noses up to one another, closed our eyes, and breathed safety, security, and full acceptance… it all meant more to me to read those words, "I know that you love me when you press your nose against mine." I was sitting on a bench in the church garden in my wedding dress. It was hot. I remember being upset because I smudged my mascara.
So, I’m going to pen my words to this digital paper. In this space. I can tell my story. I want to know your story, too. Will you tell me? Stories empower us, poems melt us, words change us. Truly, I am a puddle on the floor. So, I think I want to be in the melting business. Melting the hardened, barely surviving, "I'm fine" heart with words. I am not just fine. And it's because of the words.
Listen, I love Instagram, but it’s not why I’m here - in this space. I’m not even sure this blog is really about the kitchen. I like sharing recipes. I like shooting food. I will keep doing that. But I love writing. It feels unexpected. And good.
So, if you want to follow along, you can subscribe here. It’s just to let you know when I post something new, so that I don’t have to rely on all those clicks and likes. I can keep my head down and write.
Wishing the happiest of Wednesdays to you, dear readers.
*Subscribing to the blog tonight gives you a chance to win a batch of free granola! Click here and win that free granola, okay?!