Friday, September 12, 2008

A writing group and Edward Scissorhands

The new Quaker Writing Group met Sunday afternoon for the first time, convening in Jaya and Molly's apartment.

It made me happy to meet, because of how much I liked the Quaker writing group I left behind in Columbia.

Jaya and Molly's apartment was a pleasant "writing center," with big dormers and old hardwood floors. Jaya made us feta and watermelon salad with lime, lemonade and crackers with cream cheese and pepper jelly. Roger came, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well things went for a first meeting.

Roger and I watched Edward Scissorhands the other night, and I found myself writing about that. It's a movie I think we'd always meant to see, but never had. I loved it. It was good to watch when just settling into a new place.

In the movie, Edward is the creation of a mad scientist who dies before completing his project. Hence, Edward never gets human hands. Instead, he has garden clippers. He's befriended by a warm-hearted suburban woman who comes to his lonely castle selling Avon. She takes him into her home, where he confronts and tries to fit in with suburban culture. The housewives fall in love with him when they see him use his clipper hands to create beautiful topiaries and lovely haircuts. He, in turn, falls in love with his hostess's daughter.

I fell in love with (and simultaneously was repelled by) the fantasy 1960s brilliant pastel suburban homes with their console TVs and expanses of perfectly vacuumed wall-to-wall carpet. They evoked all sorts of memories in me of early childhood.

To move on, the theme of the movie is that the source of our creativity and uniqueness, in Edward's case his scissorhands, is also what wounds others and alienates us from others. When Edward tries to embrace people he cares about, he cuts them, which is what we all do when we try to enter into relationship with other people. So I wondered as I wrote, who do I hurt without wanting to and who hurts me? How do I fit into a new community?

Another question that came up in my writing was "why are we here?" Why have the winds blown us to Barnesville? I'm sure it's not for any reason I anticipated, but I thought about what some of my expectations were and how they align with the reality of being here. Certainly, already, we've experienced events like Nick fracturing his ankle, which never entered into my wildest pre-moving dreams, showing that the reality of lived experience breaks into our plans in all sorts of crazy ways. To other people that might make the world seem random and chaotic, but to me it's proof of the existence of God.

For me, a theme running through this adventure is a Thoreauvian desire to suck the marrow out of life (in Barnesville?), and not to die without having braved life's essentials. OK. That is just a bit grandiose! And I don't know that you need to move to do those things. Or do you? How much does place matter?

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