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Scribbling in the Dark


“Mom, is that what you’re wearing?”

They are teenagers now – one teen and one almost-teen – and they take great interest or offense in what I am wearing.

“This is what I am wearing,” I say, side glancing his way as I drop a package of peanut m&m’s in my brown bag.

“But it’s so…. Nice.”

“Thank you.”

“Mom, if I were going to a movie by myself, there’s no way I would dress that nice. I wouldn’t dress up at all. I would wear pajama pants and a sweatshirt, and I would drink a large diet Coke,” he says.

“Well, this is what I am wearing.” My favorite sweater, leggings, boots.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” the other one asks.

“I am very sure. You cool with it?”

If he has a reason why I shouldn’t go – a real reason, like fear or loneliness or intuition – then I won’t go. But his reason is not real.

“I just think it’s sad, Mom. To go to a movie by yourself? Sad.”

“Oh, but it’s not sad. Not at all.”

He doesn’t realize I’m a pro at this. Movies Alone and Me? We are old friends. We go way back. Back when I had a babysitter one night a week, our beloved Gabrielle. Back when I was learning the sound of my own voice and my own thoughts, alive on their own in the world, one night a week.

“Maybe I want to go,” he says.

“Precious child of my heart, son whom I adore, what you think you want is popcorn. You do not want to see Little Women.”

He smiles. I’m right.

It does feel strange to go alone. I’ll give him that. Like stretching a muscle I haven’t used in a long time.  Or maybe like an itch I forgot that I love to scratch. So, that is how I found myself doing one of my favorite things tonight, with Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth March. The Little Women.

It is indeed a love story between a woman and her writing, her words, and her books, and I dearly thank every single one of you who required I see it immediately. You were each and all correct.

I take notes when I see a movie by myself. That little half table that’s meant for snacks? I use it for my notebook and my notetaking. I write like a woman scribbling in the dark.

When Jo has given up writing, she’s sure that it doesn’t matter and it isn’t important. She says something like, “It’s only stories about our domestic life, and who would want to read about that? It’s not important.”

And Amy says something like, “Maybe if people wrote about it, other people would find it important.”

“Writing doesn’t confirm importance,” Jo says. “It reflects it.”

And Amy says, “I don’t think so. Write something down, and it becomes important.”

In another scene, Jo has lost her will to write for a different reason.  Rejections and criticisms have stolen her joy.  Beth says to her, “If you can’t write for you, then write something for me.  Do what Marmee taught us… Do it for someone else.”

I scribbled in the dark. And I came home to write.

What a delicious encounter tonight, in a theater with a hundred other people, and all by myself.

Happy New Year, lovely you. All and every-each  of you.

Thanks for letting me write for you.  Here’s to another year of scribbling.

“Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts.
And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty.
I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for.”
~ Jo March, my favorite heroine


Tricia Lott Williford

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