By Katerina Bonderud, TIWP Student
My love is writing in a valley of flowers. The kindness of California poppies delicately caressing my fingers. As I sit, I am immersed in a whole other world where trees bloom and bees are dogs. They float back and forth, carrying pollen to and from their hive. They support the world around them and worship their badass queen. I hear their buzz and the songs of birds all around.
I’m taken back to the time I was in Yosemite’s valley, staring up at Al Capitan, immersed in the vastness of our world. I’m a mountain girl. The ocean is gigantic, but a dark blue film covers it–you can’t see how expansive it truly is. With mountains, you see its precariousness and magic right before your eyes. Yosemite’s cliffs look so small and shallow from above, but once you are in the heart of the valley, you appreciate every edge and curve of the stone, every brush stroke and sculpt from the glaciers millions of years ago. I can’t help but give an air-hug to the sky. This planet does so much more than we can ask for. It breaks my heart to watch such a robust and beautiful force be nothing but abused, taken photos by many, and only appreciated and cared for by a single percent. I lie in this valley and watch as the world becomes round. The heart of the sky is dark, the cliffs climb the sky, and the trees at the bottom frame the portrait. I sink into the earth, deeper and deeper. I drop my head to the side and see, once again, an orange poppy.
I fall through the earth to find myself in the thick of my storm. It is freshmen year. I am writing in a valley of flowers. Nothing compares to that bliss. I long for the sun caressing my chin, blinding my computer, and blushing my cheeks. The flowers tangle around my ankles as they reach for the sun.
Nature will give until it has none left. Even then, it will go along with its process to give more, only to be ungratefully depleted once more. Nothing refuels my energy quicker than spending time alone in the wilderness. Although my irrational fear of predators keeps me on edge, it’s a thrill that refreshes me from being worried about socializing, how I present myself, saying the right thing, acting the right way, studying studying studying, my insecurities, my never empty to-do list, being woman, being a student, not letting people down, balancing conflicting social demands, ill-health, politics, history, climate change, the future–it all stops. It’s left behind at the trailhead. The only belonging that makes its way onto the compressed path is a pen and paper. They greet each other, knowing what is to come. Nothing related to any of my worries, only fantasy’s about all good that is to come.
Writing is cathartic. It is fun. It makes me whole. During the 2020 quarantine, I put down my pen and paper and instantly felt lost; I didn’t know where I was going; the world around me imploded in my head. My pen and paper have always been there in the times of my deepest needs. It has been there to nurture me, empower me, get funky with me, and express me. Writing was there for me before I even knew how to read–Literally. I learned how to write four years before I knew how to read properly. Dyslexia comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s comical because I couldn’t even read what I had written. I just knew it was there. Writing has always been there.
Writing doesn’t need to be perfect. I once asked a Latin teacher why the Latin language died. The reason: because it got fixed. It got locked into a box, never to be altered again, just looked at and pondered. Writing is not fixed. It is complex, weird blobs on a page that make us hallucinate, and it is beautiful.