Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Creativity Boot Camp: Heavy Metal {Day four}

During Creativity Boot Camp, I want to be intentional about sharing the writing that comes from the daily assignments. Perhaps, I'm sharing here because it will hold me accountable to the project. Or maybe I'm trying to recreate the soft space I found and loved so dearly in my college creative writing classes ... a whole group of writers creating, sharing, commenting, pushing each other and themselves toward birthing new ideas and raising them into great forces.
If you've posted an assignment on your blog, please feel free to put the link in a comment so I can stop by.

I'm taking a break from fiction today because yesterday's post kind of blew my mind to shreds as is what normally happens whenever I start talking about nakedness and skin and such. {Relatedly, it rendered two of my really good friends to become speechless, and if you knew them {and you may}, you'd know that doesn't happen too often as they are both really gifted with words.}

Heavy Metal {Day Four}

My dad had enough ammunition in his basement to venture out every day and hunt his own food for the rest of the century.

A sportsman, hunter and fisher, he spent copious amounts of time wandering through the wilderness, submerged in open frontiers, middle of nowhere types of places where you'd be happy to have a rifle and bullets, a fishing pole and some fishing line because it meant you could survive.

However, most of us have grocery stores instead of a wilderness from which we can go fetch dinner. So after my father's unexpected death, my step mother, realizing she'd never use any of his rifles or ammunition, took one look at his collection of hunting paraphernalia and decided to give all of his gear to my boys, placing it in the careful care of my husband, also avid outdoorsmen and hunter.

So, John, when faced with being the sole decider of what items to keep amid the boxes {and boxes and boxes} of hunting gear, did what any normal grunting, hunting man would do; he kept every.single.item in my dad's collection.

"It's for the boys," he said. "Your dad would want me and my dad to go out with them and use it in the ways he had wanted to -- for hunting and plinking and shooting. I'll use it to do what he himself had wanted to be part of; and we'll talk about how Papa Brian left it for them."

I couldn't argue with that, though I felt it was excessive and overwhelming.

Nonetheless, I didn't protest; I remained silent when my husband loaded each and every box into our car with plans to store the entire collection in our basement ... box upon heavy box of heavy metals, all precious to my father, and now newly important to my husband for reasons beyond my understanding.

Each night for the past week, John has busied himself wading through all of the boxes, heading to the basement upon arriving home from work to separate, organize, clean and inventory the contents of every box. He's been marveling while examining the shape and size and color of the different bullets, all while dreaming about future adventures of teaching our boys about the complex life of a hunter -- a rich family history of sportsmanship, conservation and ecological balance.

But I'm not a hunter. My dad and I never bonded over his passion; my husband and I never have either. And I'm pretty sure I won't ever be found making turkey calls from some field in the name of bonding with my boys in the future. I see the value in hunting; it's important to live in a symbiotic relationship with the land, nature. Real hunters respect this delicate balance. My husband is a real hunter; so was my dad; and so will be my boys. Therefore, I've appreciated it in my distanced, non-participatory way, but simply, I just didn't get why we needed to keep every single piece of his collection.

Nonetheless, I stayed silent. I didn't complain about John spending so much time organizing these boxes.

A few nights ago, John emerged from the basement, a small box in his hands.

"You ever seen this box before?" he asked.

I shook my head no, asked where he found it.

"In one of your dad's ammunition boxes," he said. "I thought you might like it."

I scoffed in my head, prepared to share with John that I knew he thought the rare, unusual bullets were interesting, but I didn't really have any interest.

Before I could say anything, he opened the box, pulled a shiny gold ring out and placed it in my hand.

"His wedding ring from my mom," I breathed, tears brimming in my eyes.

My parents had been divorced for 24 years when my dad passed away just a little more than a month ago; it never even crossed my mind that he'd held onto his ring. But he had. And I felt, there, in that moment, unexplainable joy.

I won't pretend I know why he kept it -- probably simply because it was gold and valuable. But I'd like to think he subconsciously knew if something happened to him, I would have wanted to have it, so he put in a box he knew would most likely go to my house, discovered by the thorough hands of my husband.

A beautiful present, a precious metal I could hold close to my heart, a reminder of his large strong, gentle hands, something I could physically run my fingers over stashed amid the heavy metals my boys will one day run their fingers over as John tells them stories about their Papa Brian.

Beautiful, priceless gifts stemming from my moments of silence. Oh, that golden silence.


  1. Again, speechless.
    You're ramping it up this week. Tears brimming on this one... what an incredible gift.

  2. My most precious gift of things from my dad is a ring. I had it remade into a woman's ring, but designed just like the way he had it for a man. I LOVE that ring.

  3. Wow.
    I don't even know what to say.
    Superb writing.

  4. what an incredible story, and gift - for you and for us who read it.

  5. Streaming tears, I truly believe that the metal forged into he ring of marriage (whether successful or not) is the heaviest of metals in the world.

    Simply Beautiful.


There's nothing better than good conversation ... but not while talking to myself. Will you play a part in this discussion?

AND will you pretty please have your email linked to your account or leave it for me so I can respond?

Thanks for taking the time to make these thoughts into conversation.