Rekindling an Old Flame

Lately I’ve been feeling a little lightheaded and dizzy.  There have been knots in my stomach. My heart rate is elevated. I’m having trouble focusing on my tasks.  I feel kind of tingly.

Based on my search of the internet, I could have the flu.  It might be excessive caffeine use.  I might have swallowed a fish bone, balloon or pin. I could be showing signs of a drug overdose (cocaine, several narcotics and/or nicotine are the likely culprits).  Or I might have recently had a Botox injection.  These symptoms also could be caused by recent scuba diving activity, apparently…

Or, I could be falling in love.

You see, I’ve re-connected with my old flame – a long-lost love.  It’s okay, you can tell my wife. She’ll understand and won’t be jealous about it. In fact, she’ll probably be relieved that I’ve got something else to distract me for a while. But yes, I am in love. With words.  And I’m so grateful that they’ve come back to give me yet another chance despite the nastiness of our last breakup.

It was my fault, of course.  Over the past couple of years we had drifted apart.  It’s not you, it’s me, I’d say, but the hurt feelings and blank pages were not particularly forgiving.  Ultimately, our inability to communicate caused a complete breakdown in our relationship and eventually the words simply gave up and walked out.

But the other day we happened upon each other in a coffee shop.  I was drinking my morning Blonde Roast when they arrived. It was awkward at first… our conversation focusing meekly on a vague to-do list.  The little red notebook I carry around was soon fished out of my pocket and the pen started to move slowly across the paper, filling in little details about laundry that needed washing, garden seeds that needed planting and snow that needed shoveling. I’ve missed you, I admitted to the words dangling in front of me and they reached out and gently touched my hand.

Suddenly, we were in an airship on a search and rescue mission.  Sweat was dripping as crewmen barked orders at each other in the searing heat from the unforgiving sun. We battled the extreme heat, tremendous wind and gravitational forces no human or human-made airship was meant to experience in order to try to rescue Princess Latte from the evil clutches of Lord Chai who was planning to turn the princess into a weapon to destroy society as we knew it. Just as we reached the coordinates of his evil lair, the ship started shaking, we were tossed around the bridge and the engines failed, causing us to crash in an alien and unforgiving terrain.  The crash destroyed our communications equipment – our only link to the rest of civilization – and also destroyed our solar turbine drives– our only means of making coffee or getting ourselves and the princess home.

In between, from the moment we left the base to the moment we crashed… there were words. So many powerful, action-packed, emotion-filled, beautiful words.  There were tears, fears and laughs.  There were bad puns.  There were a few brazenly split infinitives.  Nearly 1300 words were scrawled on those pages in a matter of fifteen minutes.  When I finally put the pen down I found my coffee mug to be empty (I didn’t remember drinking it) and I found myself out of breath and shaking with an adrenaline rush I hadn’t had in quite some time. The power of words to take you from one moment and place and transport you to another… I love that power. I love embracing it and succumbing to it.

I especially love writing when I can totally immerse myself into the scene and become the characters.  Feeling their emotions, experiencing their pain, tasting their coffee– if I can get into a scene like that while I’m writing, it makes me feel a little dizzy and a little nauseous and a little distracted. It just feels right.

It’s kind of silly to think that the symptoms of loving something – whether it’s a person or the act of putting words on a page – are so similar to the symptoms of so many diseases or addictions or … scuba diving experiences (seriously, webMD, where’d that one come from?).  But for me at least it really is kind of like that when I write.

What about you?  Is there something about writing you love? Do you ever just write and end up feeling like a school kid navigating the minefield of your first crush?  In honor of Valentine’s Day, fill the comments with things you love about writing so that we might all fall in love again.