To me, a personal essay is just that—“the saying” of my personal thoughts, feelings, discoveries and questions. When curious thoughts or grand ideas well up in me, I feel the urge to shape them into words.
The longer I procrastinate the exploration of these ideas or feelings, the more they distract me. Writing an essay is often the best way for me to process life and then move on. I remember a time when I was going through a patch of disrupted sleep, brought on by worries about maintenance issues in my 100 year-old home, I wrote this short piece to help me clarify the whirlwind of emotions:
I walked slowly down the basement steps, pausing half-way as the heavy air wafted up, enveloping me in its dankness. Slowly, tentatively, I continued to the bottom step of the steep staircase and scanned the dry silt on the basement floor, the undeniable remnant of a recent flood. I had been away on summer vacation and this was my welcome-home party. My nostrils were assaulted by the musty air and my spirit sank. I stared at the damage, at the rusted useless drain in the middle of the cracked cement floor.
I feel unworthy to own this home, helpless, as I see it being carried away from me on the tide of disrepair. I know I can’t keep throwing money at this water problem, nor can I pretend it isn’t happening. Water, force of nature, dares me to win the battle, and then leaves me to confront my impotence. What am I doing wrong?
I bought this piece of architectural history because I revere antiquity. I wanted the privilege of caring for it. I wanted a share in its history, but clearly I had failed. I sat on the bottom step and the water within me ran down my face in rivulets and flooded my soul in defeat. It’s so easy to fail, I thought. I couldn’t remember the moment this particular failure began to overtake me but on that day, as I sat there weeping, I knew I had to move.