I remember when I first felt compelled to write—some animalistic urge that was welling inside of me; attempting to articulate the inarticulate. I would ride my bike, a squeaking yellow old cruiser of a beast the family had affectionately dubbed “the bus”, as I wrote poetry with invisible ink in my head. I would spend hours doing this and not once did I think to put words to page.
My elder sister, by 11 months, had a temper that came out in fits of physical rage in some brute attempt to articulate her anger; this form of articulation ill-suited me. I remember one day at our cousin’s house feeling particularly alienated and bullied—tasting the bitter fruit of cruelty that some children can possess, and not understanding how my cousin and my sister could derive any pleasure from their meanness. I felt words coursing through my veins in hot, sticky masses—flowing in a strong steady current with no where to go. Where my sister acted in blows, I armed myself with pen and paper and attempted to articulate the small injustices I saw in the world at such a tender age; as I attempted to make some sort of sense of all these words, thoughts, and feelings building up storms inside me. I remember sitting there in the sun that day, bleeding out on page, and finally feeling some sort of peace and sense in the universe. I had found how to speak.
There were other times throughout childhood when I would wake up with a pen inexplicably clenched tightly in fist and I would stay up the rest of the night pouring words on page, as if to make up for my unarticulated muteness throughout the day. How were words so much easier to come by on page?
I still feel this way. I still feel verbally inarticulate. I have the most difficult time telling people how I feel, what I want, what I need. Sometimes I imagine myself a ragdoll, Raggedy Angela, lips sewn shut. But give me pen and paper and I can let my soul out in inky blots on page. I once told a boyfriend he could never really know me unless he read what I wrote. It is true. I am mute without ink to give me voice.
And language doesn’t get easier with time. I still feel as without words as my early childhood. A shining example would be my ineptitude at holding conversations with men I am interested in. A million thoughts and feelings are eddying in my head and I can’t find my tongue. I envy people with silver-tongues. Recently I started hanging out with a guy and I swear he must think I am dumb and mute. Again, I see my blatant and constant battle with containment.
I wrote a story a few years ago that began, “Our bodies are at least 60% water and 100% contained; by god it gets lonely.” It is funny how something so fluid can so easily be contained. And maybe that is why I am drawn to other writers, visual artists, musicians—they too are trying to loose the dam; articulate the inarticulate.