Bruno Emanuelle Azsk on Unsplash

This Muse Will Not Let Me Sleep

The warm Boston hotel room smelled like my extra can of disinfectant spray. It settled quietly onto the curtains, sheets and carpet, blending into the dust already there. The scent assaulted my nose every few breaths and I wished I had used less of the dizzying spray. Traveling during a pandemic means wiping down hotel rooms as if I had been hired on as additional cleaning crew. Any attempt at taking a deep breath to sleep, forced another round of the pungent concoction back in.

I had arrived in the “shining city upon a hill” for a funeral, this time, for my father. My mind raced as I thought of him lying in state at the church, which had been his last parish. He was there overnight, waiting for the prayers to start again in the morning. This was his final farewell to the altar, the church and the mourning parishioners for whom he was a father as well. Keeping within the restricted numbers, they came nonetheless, taking turns inside, their sorrow genuinely and deeply etched in each grimace and tear. Without touching, each one nodded as they passed me. They were familiar faces as I had visited this church over time. This last toll of the bell had become their task and in their proud way, their privilege.

My restlessness could not ease as I tossed around, staring at the red digits on the small clock on the side table. At 2AM, my aching eyes refused to close, to rest. I was filled with that sudden familiar urge to get whatever is inside out onto the page on my screen. As in a million other times before, that pillow becomes a wasted enemy and I will not rest. Most of the concepts or content I have created have arrived in the same way. They start as a deep uneasiness that growls deep inside and gains momentum as I reach for my tablet. My fingers, the tools with which I release this feeling, tap its madding pace across the keyboard. I work furiously and allow the words neither planner nor scheduled, to fill the page. A frenzied race of thoughts translates into each word falling in its own place. Like the VonTrapp children in the Sound of Music, the words line themselves as if they were preordered, even before the arrived. Only when I feel a sense of relief do I stop to read the whole page.

Like so many others, tapping the QWERTY line has its own consolation. There is a sense of security in seeing them, familiar in their placement. No matter where I go or what I do, each time I return to this laptop, they wait for me, in the same place as expected. Everything else changes, everything grows old, but writing remains my warm blanket. Writing allows us a place for feelings, to give them meaning and value. Each time I allow anyone to read my words, I am sharing this brave new world. If it helps even one person to recognize that why they need to write, I know I have provided a place of comfort.

The next morning, I was back at the church, staring at the people around me. They seemed as lost as I felt but I could offer them no more than the words I had written in the early morning hours. It was the only thing I had to offer in my grief; yet, I knew it was enough. After all, that search for consolation, is what draws people to gather at a funeral, anyway.

Uncertainty is a familiar face in the mirror. Move forward anyway. Drop me a quick note, rachel@reelvolume.com when you would like me to send you NexTale Notes to start the rest of your story.

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Finding my voice… again.

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Rachel Varghese, msw

Rachel Varghese, msw

Finding my voice… again.

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