The gravel on my dusty road had been strewn with rose petals to guide me to the cabin where a healing gathering for women was in progress. In a little while, I was lying on a massage table from where I could hear the laughter of mothers and their daughters muffled through the curtains hanging in the doorway to the kitchen. As a reiki therapist circled the table, she asked me what I wanted from her session. I was hoping to write in the evening, so I asked for balance. I closed my eyes. I could not see her hands, but I felt them splayed like a hinge with my sternum the pin. I have a fondness for hinges.
Brass hinges of any sort. Rusted iron ones and butterfly hinges. As I laid on the table, I remembered the butterfly recuperating in my garden from a run-in with my car. Instead of leaving it on the hot road, I brought it home and tucked it among the flowers in a garden barrel. I hoped it would recover, but I noticed that one side of its hinged body drooped slightly. I was not optimistic. The swallowtail spread its wings in the sun and unsuccessfully attempted flight. When a hard rain came in the night, I tucked it under a canopy of large marigolds. The pale swallowtail folded its wings in an awkward off-centered way and now has remained there, quiet and still. Unhinged and off balance.
The reiki therapist's hands moved silently. Everyone brought something to contribute to the afternoon event. Her gift was the healing of hands. I had puzzled over what to bring. Rhubarb cake or fudge pie? And then I remembered much of my writing is about healing, so instead of desserts, I brought a few pieces to read. I have been slow to think of my work as a writer as having validity. Only the week before, I had finally ordered myself business cards. One of my writing classmates said, "What kind of business are you going to advertise?" "Writer," I responded with a wry laugh.
I designed the cards double-sided, as if hinged on the paper’s sharp edge. If the two sides of the business card were splayed open, one hinged side would hold the painted image of me - my gray hair blowing in the wind - and the other side would proclaim I was a Writer. The English language allows one to paint or to write, but culture is parsimonious in granting the award of nouns – artist or writer. I have been patient. Occasionally, my writing critics would refer to me as a writer, but it was only after completing my first manuscript was the noun of writer comfortable to me. A metal pin holds the two sides of a hinge together. The completion of my manuscript was my pin to hinge me to the name, Writer.
On my shed window each hinge has two kinds of screws – flat head and Phillips. This proved to me the window had changed locations. My moving to the cabin has brought the writing side of me to a new place. When I asked for balance from the soft-spoken reiki therapist, I asked for my body to be ready to slip into a chair by the fire with the river breeze blowing through my hair and the smell of pines and wood smoke drifting across my nostrils. Quid pro quo. If I feel balanced, I write. If I write, I feel balanced.
My reading went well. I came away from the gathering refreshed. A thank you to the women who brought their generous gifts of feminine spirit. Arriving home, I checked on the butterfly and took a last photo of a hinged purple petal with raindrops poised and balanced.