In wrapping up this series of writing exercises on sensory detail, today’s challenge (page 18, Room to Write) is to write through texture. Again, we have 3 different approaches we can take on this:
1. List textures;
2. Describe the textures of a person, place, or thing;
3. Reflect on how the textures help us find understanding.
I think I’m going to interweave #2 and 3 for this one, at least at the outset and just go wherever that takes me.
To lull myself to sleep at night, I often rub my fingers along the edges of my pillow case; it’s a habit I’ve had since childhood, one that I developed as a substitute for massage (I was very used to nightly back rubs from my mom). So when I repeat this ritual as an adult, the tickling sensation of that thin fabric whispers kisses on my fingertips to assure me everything will be okay. On the occasional night when I’m really sunken into a mode of regression, I’ll lay there in bed snugglng my panda bear, a gift from my parents when I was five. Holding her close, I’ll run a thumb over the course, pebbly fur, matted down and hardened from decades of hugging. Now and then I’ll still find a soft spot, a silken smooth patch that was not prone to friction and reminds me of the fluffy fuzz that once went up my nose and tickled my nostril hairs (and sometimes caused that sharp, almost stinging, muscle-constricting anticipation of a sneeze) when I sniffed the bear to find my own scent. I run a finger over the rugged, scratched surface of its eye wondering when I would’ve let my guard down to have ever let harm come to there. I feel how flattened and condensed the stuffing has become, the reason why this panda had actually grown an inch once on the family growth chart. I roll onto my stomach and worry that the weight of my arm is putting the panda into a strangle hold as I feel its unyielding lump beneath, and as I turn my head the opposite way, the slippery straightness of my fine strands of hair slide across my cheek in feathery protection. I nestle my face into the moon-cooled part of the pillow that I hadn’t yet laid on and sense its soft, suede-like fibers brush against my skin, which, newly cleansed and burning from an invigorating sandy scrub, prickles a bit at the thin fuzziness just skimming its surface, almost velvety after multiple washings. I feel the thick raised bands of its pattern press into my cheek to stamp its existence into my damp epidermis. Awareness of the tepid, downy pressure of my breath upon the back of my hand distracts me from sleep, so I move my arm outwards, outstretched until it bumps dully into the warm life-force emanating from my husband’s back. In short, vertical sweeps, my hand rubs up and down against his t-shirt, which has become flimsier and less abrasive to the touch after continuous wear has relaxed its threads. Through the fabric, my fingers feel a twinkling of bristles as tiny needles of hair penetrate through. Sensing a shift of the mattress below me with a tug of the sheet above me, I realize I’m waking him when not meaning to and so withdraw my hand to the top of the duvet and let it sink into cloudy puffiness as a brief escape of air from between the feathers huffs around either side of my wrist. I lose concentration of the regulation of my breathing as, limb by limb, my body numbs against these textures and my mind delivers me into anesthetized dreams.
Huh. So I didn’t really know where I was going when I started out. At first I thought I might be listing different textures that have come to have meaning in my life and then reflect on that, yet when the pillowcase and panda that both connote safety and reassurance to me (in representing childhood nostalgia) also both coincide with bedtime, I found myself just running with that image in my mind.
I didn’t realize it until the very end how much the sense of touch comes into play at that time of night when it’s quieter and darker, and, therefore, sounds and sights are more subtle. Touch logically comes to the forefront, then, as we try to situate ourselves in comfort conducive to fading from consciousness. A challenge was searching for different adjectives to describe what basically boils down to a bunch of different fabrics–the textures within a bed are not all that dynamic, so I kept wanting to describe things as “soft” all the time. On rereading, I notice how I used a visual word (“twinkling”) to describe a sensation of touch, and while that may be cheating, I don’t know, it works for me because there’s a sort of motion and sound that go with that word that lets me understand how it would touch against my fingers. I don’t even know if what I just said makes sense, but I am realizing that the boundaries between the categories of sensory words can be crossed time to time, as the different senses so often work together to elicit a shared sensation, so that leaves us open to all the more creativity in how we spin our language into the thread of a story line.
March 6th, 2010 at 12:54
I got such a lovely comment from you regarding my blog posting ‘Who am I?’ that I simply had to drop by to visit your blog. And I’m so glad I did, too! I think you’ve quite a future ahead of you in the blogosphere. (By the way, as is my personal philosphy I reciprocated your gesture because I was taught that if someone takes the time to leave me a little note the least I can do is take a minute to acknowledge it…goodness, my mother would be so proud!)
I also got the comment you left on the discussion I started called, “For Pete’s Sake…” and wanted to let you know that there are plenty of real bloggers out there. In fact, I actually started a group on BlogCatalog called REAL Bloggers United. We’re about 70 members strong but I think we’ll be growing even bigger in the days to come.
I’d love it if you could drop by for a visit. As it is an approval required group I’d like to extend an invitation to you to join and considering that I’m the administrator I think I can pull a few strings to get you in! The address is http://www.blogcatalog.com/group/real-bloggers-united and it should take you straight to your main page.
I’ll try to check my email through the weekend to see if you’ve signed up so that you can get to meeting all the wonderfully eclectic bloggers who make up our group.
Again, you’ve a lovely blog and I wish you a beautiful day.
L Avery Brown
March 6th, 2010 at 16:09
Wonderful, thank you! I’d be delighted to be part of your group and appreciate the invitation so much. I look forward to following your and the other members’ blogs, so I shall keep my comment here brief so I can head over now to the link you provided. Cheers, Avery!