My room back home is a mosaic of meaning. There are index cards with my favorite quotes stuck up on the shelves filled with my childhood picture books; I pasted Post-it notes of the words that moved me onto the wall in front of my desk. The space persists as a reminder of the girl I used to be: a messy collection of feelings and phrases — a monument, a testament, a memorial.
Because even though I want and I want and I want, there are not enough words to encapsulate the truth: I have forgotten how to write.
Wildflower. Olive. Ruin.
I used to catalog moments in my mind based on the most recent book I had just read. I’d fail a math test and think, shame is five-fingered. Or I’d watch “Descendants of the Sun” again and yearn for a I have seen the best of you, and the worst of you, and I choose both type of love. I used to know what uxorious meant; I used to read poetry books for fun.
I used to write, just because I could.
But I haven’t written an essay in two years now, and I haven’t taken an English class for longer. I don’t have time to read anymore, and all the prose that once made my soul ache are now mere words on a wall. My perspective has shifted, my vocabulary changed. This new version of me thinks in terms of while loops and if conditions.
while(I’m studying computer science), if(I try to write): My mind goes blank and my fingers cramp up and the permutations of the alphabet become so overwhelming that I resign myself to the fact that this is no longer my forte.
I can’t write a poem, but I can write a program that can write a poem. And sometimes, that just makes me unbearably sad.
Unremarkable. Shipwreck. Darling.
I remember the first article I wrote as a sports reporter. I was used to the language of Sarah Kay, to the hidden messages and metaphors of Jodi Picoult; I didn’t know how to make men’s swim and dive sound beautiful. But I produced a piece passable for publication, and it sits there at the bottom of my portfolio — the first of many unexciting articles about an extremely exciting sport.
The girl who wrote her high school baccalaureate speech — the girl who wrote I hope you stay kind and forgiving and brave and beautiful, and as we empty the spaces we once occupied, I hope you remember to take up new ones — would be embarrassed of how dreadfully mediocre my writing has become. She would hate the way my articles seem more like a list than a story, formulaic and shallow. She would laugh at how I struggle to epitomize my work into a title. She would cringe at the words I use over and over again: dominant, falls, success, permanence.
But the truth is, the breadth of my vocabulary has decreased, so my favorite website is thesaurus.com. I could spend forever switching out my mundane words with sophisticated ones, reworking every sentence until I sound more like a professional, more like a reporter, more like who I used to be, but there must come a time when I close all my tabs and turn my piece in.
That is the beauty of this industry — sports does not wait for inspiration to strike. It does not wait for creativity or innovation or genius, because there will always be another game. There will always be another story, so you have to tell yours now.
I am trying to tell mine, one lousy article at a time.
Starlight. Naked. Reinventing.
In the two years I have considered myself to be a sports reporter, I have penned a love letter to basketball, transcribed an interview with the head coach of the women’s golf team and written an instant analysis for a college football game. Sports keeps me tethered to this world of writing I keep straying away from and gravitating back toward. It pushes me around, has seen the best of me and the worst of me. It keeps me grounded.
I am relearning how to write.