Birth class, Cambridge MA, 2010:
The midwife instructs the expecting mothers to close our eyes. “Picture your happy place,” she says. “The peaceful scene you’ll visit in your mind during labor.”
The other women picture sunny beaches.
I picture a desk in a window.
The point of my mental image was not the physical setting. Some of my most frenzied writing has happened in the confines of a Greyhound bus seat, or on scraps of napkin in a hospital cafeteria, or surreptitiously when I should have been doing anything else.
The point was the writing.
I wrote like a rocket from age eight. My first diary entry in my first diary (puffy cover with a teddy bear picture) declares that I’m going to become a “prefeshunal writer.”
I did, and other things too — city planner, environmental activist, homeschool mother, teacher of Socratic seminars for teenagers.
But writing does a bigger variety of things than all of those. Writing is a playspace, laboratory, and therapist’s couch. Also, sometimes, a stage. Writing can show us ourselves and help us escape ourselves.
Not that I gave any of this a moment’s thought during labor.