This afternoon I went down to the basement to get the lights for the Christmas tree. Down there, on the dusty shelves amidst all the boxes of children’s books, LEGO and trinkets from my grandparents, is a large wicker hamper stamped FM. It was one my godmother gave me for Christmas many years ago, and when all the treats were eaten, I filled it with papers. Notebooks, manuscripts, Les Mis programs… Everything I saved from when I wrote like I needed it to survive. (Hamilton lyrics are taking over my life.)
Yes, some of it is childish and juvenile and bears the clear mark of a teenage girl in love. But there is something more in there. The shaping of a soul. The evidence of a passion so powerful it seemed impossible that anything could ever sweep it away. The hundreds of pages I wrote, the ideas I jotted down. The world I built for myself ou
t of words, the dreams I cherished, the person I was.
The person I find myself returning to.
One of the dreams I cherished the most was to put myself into the narrative. To be a part of the historiography of the time period I read and dreamed so much about. To continue the story. To go, like Enjolras, all the way with Robespierre.
My mother wanted so much for me to write about it. I said I would, but outside myself as I was, it was a vague promise to consider some time in the future, when everything else was done. Something so that I could say to an agent ‘I have ideas for three more books.’ Or an excuse to open another notebook.
But I want to do it now. I want to pull every book I have on the French Revolution (and believe me, I have lots) from the shelf. I want to read them, immerse myself. Come back to myself.
Put myself back in the narrative.
And write about Robespierre.