This morning as a made my way to Whole Foods, I walked by a coffeeshop across from my new apartment building and saw four people inside typing away on their laptops. I imagined myself among them, sipping an Americano while I worked on a short story or a novel chapter.
I have only ever heard about writers congregating in coffeeshops to work on their projects, and because of the pandemic, I’ve never had the opportunity to have this experience.
Of course, I had no idea whether any of the four were actual writers, though in my own mental bubble, they all were. It feels like it has been a long road back from the COVID lockdowns, and I was just happy to see folks going about their business inside the small shop.
Who knows? Maybe tomorrow morning I’ll join them. I have had some trouble coming up with a consistent writing routine. This might finally be the one that’ll stick, and I’ll be one step closer to becoming a bonafide writer.
Anyway, watching those folks in the coffeeshop got me thinking about how far I’ve come in my brief writing journey. I would’ve never guessed in a thousand years that I would be investing in a writing desk and chair, let alone contemplating spending hours at a time sitting by myself in a coffeeshop.
I’m sure if I told most of the people I grew up with, they’d think I was joking or had gone mad.
I grew up in Palau, a small island country just north of the equator, a couple of hundred miles south of Guam and east of the Philippines. Looking back now, it honestly feels like an alien world compared to today’s.
Most of the roads back then remained unpaved until I was well into elementary school and almost every house in my neighborhood had corrugated tin roofs, which turned into tin drums during rainstorms. A few houses, including my great-aunt’s, were quieter because they still had thatched roofs made from coconut fronds.
My friends and cousins and I used to play baseball on those unpaved roads, tennis balls and bamboo bats as our baseball gear. And for bases, we used a pair of rubber slippers for home plate and first base. That was it. No second and third base, which for some of us, was sad for reasons other than baseball.
The good news was that we didn’t have to spend any money on balls and bats. We just harvested them—balls from a resort tennis court and bats from a bamboo forest behind my cousin’s house.
My friends and cousins and I also used to take a bamboo raft out for a swim in the channel separating Koror and Babeldoab, unsupervised. Of course, I say this not as an indictment on our parents parenting skills because we’d become experts at sneaking away, but . . . we’re lucky none of us drowned.
We did everything outdoors. Outhouses, outdoor showers, and outdoor kitchens were as common as the tin-roofed houses. It also wasn’t uncommon to see dogs, chickens, and ducks roaming around front yards.
Movie nights were a big thing back then, and the entire community participated because only a few households had cable television and even fewer had VCRs. The first movie I ever watched at our community house was “The Mask”, starring Jim Carrey, and I still remember the anticipation in my belly as my uncle slid the videotape into the VCR player.
Since then, I’ve grown about 3 feet and gained over a hundred pounds, graduated from high school, moved to the U.S., spent half a decade in the Army, and have become a husband and a father.
I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with my life when I got out of the military, so I decided to go into culinary school. That episode lasted about three quarters before I dropped out to spend more time wandering aimlessly through life.
It took a lot of self-medicating and a lot more patience and support from my loved ones before I finally decided to seek both physical and emotional help from actual medical professionals. I can now say that I am stronger for all my past experiences. It also doesn’t hurt that I have a bunch of blunders that I can burden my characters with in my fiction writing.
I try to remember every day to be grateful for all the opportunities and blessings that are available to me. The act of writing has helped me so much in this regard.
In December of 2019, after many months of recovery, I decided to enroll at Seattle Central to take some music and art classes while I worked on my portfolio for the college’s Visual Media program.
I did that until summer quarter when I took an Intro to Fiction class and instantly fell in love with short story writing. It has since evolved into an insatiable love for everything from flash fiction to blackout poetry.
This past quarter I completed Creative Writing with the same instructor who taught me Intro to Fiction, and my love for writing has only been reinforced. It’s been so long since I’ve felt this passionate about something, and I can’t imagine doing anything else in the future.
What has your writing journey been like?
Featured Image By LuxTonnerre from Munich, Germany.