Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Slot in the Wall

This morning, in the medicine cabinet I saw again the slot cut into the back, labeled "razor blades." The cabinet is sunk between studs in the wall and the slot is a leftover from a time when razors were thin, flat pieces of metal, double-sided and too dangerous to toss in the basket. It conjures images of the father from my childhood, lathered with foam from his Old Spice mug, carefully shaving the underside of his neck in short strokes.

Thinking of that slot, I see the narrow space between the back of the cabinet and the wall behind. It's dusty and dark and there are probably just a few blades down on the footer, if any, but I like to imagine a thick pile of the things squeezed between the walls that would cascade onto the floor if ever I pulled the wall apart.

The slot is this thing that doesn't really apply to now. My razor blades are mounted on plastic and don't fit in the slot. It serves no purpose for me other than sparking my imagining.

Since I was a boy, I've imagined the writing life, having come across a slot in the back of the world labeled "write on" I began dropping words into it, between the walls, waiting to fill it up. How long before there was no more room and I would be ready to push my words somewhere else?

I miscalculated. There's more space than I imagined and the words are so small. I listen to the plink-plink of each one falling and coming to rest. The sound is small and far down the wall, even after all these years. I'm not going to fill that wall up no matter how long I write.

What kind of goal is it to fill that space? It seemed a good game when I started, but I no longer want just a game. I want more. I close the medicine cabinet door, pour coffee, go to the computer. There's an idea, about a slot in the medicine cabinet. I type and blades still sharp enough to cut, are going somewhere other than into the darkness between walls. There is no space to fill, just room to write on.